The #1 most emailed New York Times article this weekend?
“Why You Hate Work” by Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath.
Ironic, isn’t it? Instead of taking a complete break to recharge our batteries and spend more time outdoors now that we’re experiencing lovely summer weather in the Northern Hemisphere, we read an article validating our crummy work situation.
Then we email the evidence confirming our standard of living to others.
This action reinforces our distressing feelings about our work life and “the Man” who controls us—or the system.
People, it doesn’t have to be this way.
You have more control than you think you do.
You can take some simple, easy steps to improve your well-being, your attitude toward work and your performance. And you can help others too.
First, start by paying attention to science.
In his 2009 best-seller “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” Daniel Pink exposed the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of life.
Five years later, I maintain that Dan’s observation has become the biggest understatement of the century in the world of work.
The gap between what science knows and what business does keeps expanding. What might have been a crevice a few years ago is now a gaping cavern.
Over the past decade, neuroscientists and social cognitive psychologists have made major advancements in understanding how the human brain works.
Thanks to the fMRI technology, a type of brain scanner that collects images of oxygen use inside an individual’s brain, researchers have been able to observe brains of live humans as well as conduct experiments.
For example, we now know that our brain’s prefrontal cortex, often referred to as the “executive function” which knowledge workers rely on, is relatively small. If we don’t rest and recharge it, we can’t think very clearly.
When our prefrontal cortex gets tired, the brain’s automatic system or the default network—commonly known as the unconscious—steps in.
The automatic system manages our emotions, as well as our memories, the skills we’ve learned and the habits we’ve developed. It also is our source of creativity and innovation.
In contrast to our prefrontal cortex, the areas of the automatic system are the size of the Milky Way.
But when we’re tired, we don’t have the energy to call on the best parts of our unconscious.
Instead, the amygdala can get stimulated and it’s likely we get fearful, stuck, cranky, error-prone and forgetful. We feel overloaded and overwhelmed.
In an ideal world, organizational leaders would already be embracing neuroscience. Furthermore, they would have made the changes proposed by The Energy Project, the ground-breaking company that Tony Schwartz founded and leads.
You don’t have to wait.
Nor do you have to make all the changes I’ve done in the past few years after reading the book Drive. (For instance, I’ve studied with Dr. David Rock to become a brain-friendly coach, worked with Dr. BJ Fogg to learn his behavior model and become certified in his Tiny Habits® program and am now enrolled in an applied neuroscience course through the Neuroleadership Institute. Oh, and I follow The Energy Project. Yes, I was motivated to act.)
Consider taking a Tiny Habits for Work session with me. (This week’s session is totally full.)
The session participants are each creating three tiny habits to help them focus, de-stress and take steps to optimize their work actions. As a result, they can feel better and improve their performance.
After just five days, the Tiny Habits for Work alums report being able to focus better on what they want and need to do, get more enjoyment from tasks, break through their resistance, and have a healthier internal dialogue about their actions.
Let me know if you want me to contact you when I offer the next Tiny Habits for Work session.
Tiny Habits for Work. Good for your work. Good for your brain. Good for you overall.
Life is too short to hate work.