“Action cures fear” – Mike Kim.
I am someone who needs structure. And you do to.
For the last 18 months, I’ve been on my own workwise. Before you roll your eyes, this isn’t a missive on entrepreneurialism. However, going from larger corporate environments to working for an organization of one (me) has forced me to analyze every nuance of my personal work habits. Some of them are really great and some, this will shock you, are horrible.
I’ve realized if left to my own devices, without some minor structure in my workday, whether at a corporate office or the Starbucks down the street, my overall productivity goes down. A lot. This is a no-brainer, I know. But here is the double-suck factor. That lack of simple structure does something worse – it breaks down my ability to innovate, try new things, or create.
And for someone who usually has a fairly spontaneous spirit in my work life (“Team, how about we try it, if it doesn’t work, let’s try the next idea…”), some may think the idea of “structure” or “discipline” or “rigor” would squelch that energy.
Actually, it has the opposite effect.
Without that discipline or structure, too much mental bandwidth is wasted on things that don’t move me forward. This phenomenon happens to all of us. Without some routine, our minds get stuck on the “how should I do this”, the “why should I do this”, and the “when should I start to do this” and stalls the doing.
The equation we’ve now manifested with our lack of structure: Low productivity + low creativity = low wins.
You have to have wins no matter what environment you work in. For your “wins” are the anecdote to your complacency and fear. Even the smallest of wins inspire us to win again, because it feels really great! Just like a plane needs momentum to maintain lift, at work we need wins to maintain a sense of agency and get great results.
But when our wins stall, it’s easy to become complacent.
Simply put, feeling complacent hurts less than the belief we may be failing.
So, if you are floundering on a project, if momentum is stalling on that big proposal, or if you simply feel a sense of failing, analyze your daily routine. If your routine is little too “wild west”, then perhaps building a small fence around those wild horses may get you the small wins you need to get riding again.
Dawn Burke, Sr. Consultant for Recruiting Toolbox and founder/advisor for Dawn Burke HR, is an HR leader, speaker, and writer specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/recruiting/leadership career has spanned the last 20 years, with past gigs including a foundational role as VP of People for Birmingham, AL’s award-winning technology company, Daxko (And yes, Kris Dunn and Dawn are making Bham the HR capital of the world! Who knew?). You can also check her out at DawnHBurke.com and a variety of other interesting places. Google her, it’ll keep you posted on what she is up to.
Most importantly: She is addicted to TV, knows most of the lyrics to Hamilton and West Side Story, loves to cry at movies (check out Cinema Paradiso for a cry fest!), thinks wine, a wheel of Brie and Milk Duds make a well-balanced dinner, and sings in her car daily. Her husband and cat are the Yin to her Yang.