Sometimes, well, actually, quite often it seems, when you’re running a business, there are moments in your day when it all feels like… well, like really hard work. An uphill slog. Like you’ve been working sooooo much and you just need a break – or more to the point in some cases, a breakthrough.
Time, methinks, to reevaluate the joy and freedom of not being employed by someone else. I don’t mind the hard work bit, but I do mind the feeling it’s not so much fun anymore bit. If I turn the thing I love into a J-O-B, does that automatically kill my enjoyment of it? No, I tell myself, of course not – think of the worst job you’ve ever had and you even had fun (at times) doing that – you had to or you’d have gone crazy.
In fact, when I think about (one of) the worst employed jobs I’ve had, my memories of it are actually very fond ones because
a) we had fun in spite of the lousy hours, pay and conditions and
b) I met one of the most special people in my life there – my dearest friend Jessica
– life itself would be very much less fun and meaningful without her in it.
How are the hours, pay and conditions you’re providing yourself this week?
And if they feel somewhat lousy, what can you do about it?
Hmmmm… well, this week I went on the weekly forest walk with our son’s class (age 9) and the girls were playing one of my favorite games as a child – Horses. (remember, girls?!) It goes like this…
First of all, I’ll be the horse and you’ll be the rider. We get a rope and you ride me round the place, trotting here, galloping there, popping over the odd fence or two together. I might make some neighing noises and you might have to use all the horsey commands in your repertoire – ‘woah’, ‘steady’, ‘stand’, ‘walk on…’ I’ll know what you mean and do what you say (mostly).
Then we swap and I ride you round. Just for the fun of it. If a friend of ours shows up, we can play showjumping or dressage and one of us can be the commentator… And if more show up, we can have more horses and riders and all go out for a ride together – it’s totally scaleable, hours of endless possibilities and fun – providing you like playing Horses, that is!
That’s all very well, but how can I use that in my running my business, I hear you ask?
- First of all, you need more than one person to play Horses or it’s just not as much fun – this translates as Step 1 is: find someone else to play with, and who wants to play. Another person running their own business who’s facing similar challenges.
- One of us is the horse and the other the rider first and then we’ll swap over roles part way through. Step 2: pick two simple roles/tasks you both want to do/master. For instance, I need to get in the habit of checking my numbers weekly, monthly and quarterly. I’m sure there’s someone else out there who does too and who’ll, like me, know what to do, but just not do it. First I’ll ‘ride’ them and we’ll do the numbers for their business and then they’ll ‘ride’ me and we’ll do the numbers in my business. Or when I ride them, I could instead get them to do the numbers in my business and vice versa. we’ll have to agree on the rules we play before the game starts…
- We’re fastened together by a rope, which to me translates to Step 3: be 100% present and there for each other. I’m bound to learn something too, if I pay attention to the way they approach the same task. And if neither of us know what we’re doing, we can both improve together. It also means we’re accountable to one another.
Or, thinking about it, I could just find someone who likes riding and we could go do the real thing on real horses (like Lucy Perera and Mr.Tex during my visit to Taos, New Mexico pictured above), which may have an equally positive effect!
How about you? What game could you play next week? In business and outside it?
Or put even more simply, how can you make it more fun?!