Leadership

Never Underestimate The Power Of Fun As A Key To Resilience

Exactly this time, these pressures, this pain, this uncertainty, these risks, and all of those threats can and will add up in the minds and hearts of your young colleagues as the quintessential meaning of fun.

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Leadership

Never Underestimate The Power Of Fun As A Key To Resilience

Exactly this time, these pressures, this pain, this uncertainty, these risks, and all of those threats can and will add up in the minds and hearts of your young colleagues as the quintessential meaning of fun.

Together with
November 27th, 2022
Never Underestimate The Power Of Fun As A Key To Resilience
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More than one of every six GDP dollars the U.S. economy generates annually, literally shouldering tens of millions of livelihoods here and around the world, springs from residential investment, construction and real estate.

The build-to-rent segment, still toddler-age in the scheme of things at 11% of the single-family home construction market, is by itself a $4.4 trillion business in the U.S.

Serious stuff, especially on the brink of a dislocation in economic and consumer behavioral dynamics the severity and duration of which nobody really knows. These seismic shocks and stresses come atop a chronic talent shrinkage, a "great resignation," a wave of "quiet-quitting," and a high-wire balancing act of work-from-wherever disturbances and trends. It better all be worth it.

And, for all of those who make this business their livelihood, it better damned well be fun considering some of the nature of the rough times people and firms will have to weather.

You wouldn't think "fun" would be the highest of priorities when sales orders, customer coddling, inventory clearing, and near-flawless deliveries rank among the leading ones – in a context of cost cuts, staff reductions, reorganizations, and meaner, leaner operations.

Still, it had better figure into both tactical and strategic workplace dynamics, up and down the chain, from the corner office to the frontline at the job sites.

Fun is essential to resilience.

And the good news is, your folks will have it – even in the toughest of circumstances – if your workplace culture, just lets it happen with pure common sense and Golden Rule practices.

Here's a for instance from my own work life, dating back 40 years or so.

Besides being one of the best New York City daily newspaper sports reporters in an era that really meant something, David, one of my colleagues in the late 1980s, had an uncanny sense of timing in the newsroom.

When things got hard, and the clock ground away the minutes through the wee hours of the morning toward our weekly news magazine's "ship" for the pages' air courier run to the printers, some of us less experienced ones might feel a tug of panic. Knowing my own time was running out for whatever project I was working on, and that the stress-level was well above what I could, he'd often approach quietly from behind me, look over my shoulder at the screen where the article waited for me to add or cut or rearrange the umpteenth draft before I'd relent and send it to my editor at "pencils down" time.

Having any fun yet?" he'd say, quietly, ribbing me further, "Is that the lead-in?!?!"

He'd wheel a chair up next to my desk, scroll up and down the story for a minute or two, and then point to two lines or so midway through the draft and say,

There it is right here. You wrote the lead but it's buried. Move it to the top, cut these paragraphs out, tighten this section here, and you're ready to hit 'send.' Then you can grab your coat and hook up with the rest of us down at dinner."

It was never quite that simple. But, deadline pressure now, these 35-plus years later, has never been the same. "Having any fun yet?" has leapt to mind during a career of moments of duress, pain, challenges I'd imagined were insurmountable, and a host of serious, at times desperate tests of tolerance, endurance, and near mental paralysis.

Real ordeals – no matter their gravity nor the havoc they'd wreak -- forever melded in my worklife with that refrain, "having any fun yet?" The never-changing answer to that question at that moment.

Yes, it doesn't get any better than this!"

Look, this housing downturn is already rough and taking a toll. By all lights, its path is downward and more destructive from here. Financial turbulence and a toolkit full of defensive measures to withstand the bumps and air pockets – cost cuts, layoffs, resource constraints across the board – all only mean more pressure and urgency for the ones whose deadlines keep counting down the minutes.

And yes, it may get worse, and it may get worse than that before it gets better. But that's just it. It will get better.

And another thing is just it.

Exactly this time, these pressures, this pain, this uncertainty, these risks, and all of those threats can and will add up to to some of your young colleagues as the quintessential meaning of fun.

For your youngest team members, the throes of urgency, of adversity, of stress, and anxiety – or however you'd characterize the business, economic, and operating conditions of the next six to 18 months – could well be the experience that defines their career's ballast of meaning, inspiring a life-deep well of 100% effort and no-quit.

As hard as these times may be, their difficulty won't be lost on your young colleagues. Still, remember that they can come out of these months both fit for adversity and even more-deeply-than-ever enthralled with this livelihood.

There's truckloads of leadership counsel that focuses on all the serious things you've got to do to stay afloat.

Personally, though, I think fun got me through the hardest times, and inspired me to push through them, and work to improve, and keep trying to excel more than any force factor I can think of as a motivator.

Here's someone who recognized that:

I think we're having fun. I think our customers really like our products. And we're always trying to do better." – Steve Jobs

For me fun was learning – in the foxhole heat of deadline -- directly from a self-appointed mentor, David, how to find the lead of a story somewhere in the middle or toward the end of my second or third draft, and give it its place where it belonged.

For your folks, it may be other experiences that go with enjoying the work and constancy it takes to reach mastery.

The power of fun in business success is a thing. Bob Nelson, a Ph.D., has co-authored with Mario Tamayo, a book Work Made Fun Gets Done! Nelson frames it out here, in a brief essay with some ideas. Here are a few:

How can you make your job more fun?

  • Make a game of it: Number the tasks on your to-do list and set a duration for completing each one. As soon as you finish a task, reward yourself with something small.
  • Switch things up: Making simple changes, like calling your “to-do list” a “fun list,” can give you a fresh perspective.
  • Vary your location: Need some inspiration? Head over to a coffee shop or public library to complete your work. A temporary relocation can be restorative.

These may or may not apply. That's obvious. What's also obvious is that the measures of difficulty we endure often recombine in our minds and hearts into the most passionate ties we form with our livelihoods. I'd bet that most people who love what they do find the purest experiences of enjoyment in the moments they emerge from the hardest parts of their occupation.

In homebuilding and residential real estate, the challenge of the moment is resiliency – for your firms and your folks. As Bob Nelson notes:

Though fun at work is sometimes thought to be a distraction, research suggests that it has a positive impact on engagement, creativity, and purpose — increasing employee retention and reducing turnover. When we find tasks enjoyable, we’re more eager to dig in and complete them. When we make time for joy and laughter, we become resilient.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

ABOUT

Staffing and recruiting done right. Fast Tracking Solutions specializes in delivering top talent in accounting/finance, construction, and technology operations.

Website

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John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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