How do you communicate passion over practicality in the workplace?

Man holding a red woolen heart concept for valentine's day, busi

By Mark A. Leon

I grew up with an overwhelming amount of imagination. I was the youngest of four and for the most part my parents loved me, but didn’t feel like going through the motions of involving me. From a very young age, I have been on my own to discover the world. This most likely has contributed to my nomadic and creative persona.

For the last decade, I have been motivated by a world of possibility. Not quite in the Houdini manner, but I look at organizations and I see potential outside the walls of accepted practice.

A number of years ago, General Electric (GE) coined the term “boundaryless”. That term has stuck with me throughout my career.

In 2008, the idea of a corporate community page on Facebook was taboo. In 2009, creating LinkedIn groups focused on building a skill specific talent community was silly at best. In 2010, a career experience blog highlighting individual success stories and telling the cultural story one person at a time was shunned upon. “What is the value added?”, “How is this going to help us hire people?” – These were the questions posed by the senior leadership or the naysayers.

In 1998, we had a challenge: How do we support our growth in Engineering and Product Development as a result of a major decade funded government contract? The solution: Let’s show them what we got. The idea was formatted for an on-site career fair and expo.

Here was the pitch:

  1. We reach out to the professional sports teams, museums, theaters and radio stations asking for donations and participation.
  2. We do a picture collage of the last 80 years and focusing on the number of generational families that have worked here.
  3. We show off our state of the art 3D simulation studio.
  4. We have hiring managers on-site to answer questions and do same day interviews.
  5. We offer an inside look at the future of military design and development with plant tours.Impossible they said. You won’t get buy in from all the departments. We can’t interview people right off the street. This will be overwhelmingly expensive.At about $600 per attendee and 21 confirmed hires, this was a raging success. The answer was simple; we brought passion, culture and a very intimate personal touch to the candidate experience. If you drove by our facility, we looked like an old manufacturing plant gated in with no clue what was going on inside. Invite them in and they will come. They sure did. Almost 300 attendees on a Saturday morning.In the last 15 years, I have updated my resume once and have not seen the light of day of a job board. I am approached and on occasion I listen.The career choices I have made have been because of a few common trends.

    1. The recruiter provided me with an incredible candidate experience. Quick follow up, education on the role, deep interest in my background and love of their company.
    2. The hiring managers challenged me. They weren’t looking for a body with some technical or soft skills to fill a role. They were looking for individuals to partner and contribute to the growth and innovation of their teams.
    3. A set of values that were demonstrated in the words and actions of the team.

    I am very good at what I do and I know I have limitations. I work extremely well as an individual contributor, but thrive with a team that shares expertise and values support.

    We all have good and bad days, but the minute it becomes a regiment of mental clock in and clock out the passion dies and the wall come tumbling down.

    Do we need process? Absolutely
    Do we need checks and balances / QA? You bet
    Do we need mandatory training? Hmmmm, I suppose
    Do we need structured hierarchy? No always.

    What companies truly need is a human capital element that thinks and acts with emotion. The ability to care about your team, clients, supervisors, subordinates and cross functional groups is a gift. That gift will reverberate and send positive shivers down the spines of all you are in contact with.

passion1

  1.  

    Start each day with positive electricity and energize those around you.

A Lifetime of Happiness: Communication, Love and Family – The Glue and the Fuel

Is it possible to spend forty-three years of your life, fifty weeks a year, 86,000 total hours, 8600 plus hours commuting, 1375 hours in travel in a place and be satisfied?  More importantly, can you leave behind a legacy that makes yourself and your family proud of the career you have made?

That was a mouthful to swallow.  Let me take a step back.  How many remember exactly what they did at work yesterday?

Sometimes that is even a hard question.

We work our little butts off making crafts and climbing robes in elementary school and junior high.  Then we fight for a reputation in high school and then start right over again redefining ourselves in college.  If we are lucky, we get to stay a little longer in graduate studies.  Then the big decisions happen.  What do I do next?

What do you like, you ask yourself?

  • Sleeping in
  • Drinking, partying and dancing
  • Hanging with the friends
  • Ultimate frisbee
  • Afternoon naps
  • Road Trips
  • Playstation

Not the most transferable skill sets.  We obviously have a dilemma.  How do we translate current state to future state and still find the same level of happiness we had for the first twenty-two years for the next forty-three?

happy2If there was a simple answer, we wouldn’t have all these blogs and articles on career planning and career management and happiness in the workplace, blah, blah, blah.

Throughout history, we have seen very content and satisfied employees that have had roles ranging from extremely complex to overly simple.  From Thomas Edison to Fred Flintstone, Einstein to Homer Simpson, one constant is true, finding value in your work and balancing it with the true elements of happiness:  Love and family.

Maybe we found our variable.  Love and family.  So, we have two wandering puzzle pieces:  Crazy fun you and responsible consistent you.  Both are running for the hills in opposite directions.  What if….What if, there was a magnetic glue that could push the two together and then hold it tight.  Love and family.

I believe we have solved the greatest mystery of life.

Let’s take five minutes to do a little assignment.

Take these three categories and list five things you love about them and five things you do not love

  • Social / Play Life
  • Work Life
  • Family

Next, find the common elements in all three.

Put those common elements on a piece of paper or index cards with the title “Things that make me happy in my social, work and family life.  What are yours?”

Now mail these cards to five of your closest friends and family members.  No texting, no emailing, no cloud sharing.  Mail!!!!!  Stamps and all.

Add a post it asking them to find five things that make them happy at work, life and family and then share it with five people.

Besides the fact that this is a great way to communicate and a unique and fun exercise, it will open some eyes.

One of the areas so many of us fail at in life is communication.  We hold back and bottle up our feelings in fear of confrontation, loss or disapproval.  This is a passive method of letting others know, there is happiness in all we do and sometimes we need to look to others to harness this.

This is an exercise that can be done at work in a team building session as well.  Don’t rule that out.

Love and family may be the glue, but communication is the fuel that will lead down the road of a lifetime of happiness.

Don’t forget that.