By Barry Maher
As I was leaving after a keynote the other day, an extremely handsome, extremely well dressed, extremely sophisticated looking gentleman stopped me in the hall. The kind of guy that makes you feel like Gomer Pile on a bad day. Picture George Clooney. But better. Much better.
“How did you avoid a midlife crisis?” I thought he asked.
“You haven’t seen my new Corvette, my giant bottle of Viagra or my 18 year old blond mistress,” I replied.
“No, I didn’t mean you personally,” he said, looking at me like I might actually have a 18 year old mistress and wondering whether to be outraged or envious. “How do you . . . how do people in general . . . at least people who’ve devoted their lives to their careers . . . how do they avoid a midlife crisis?”
“Hmmm,” I replied.
“I just mean you’re my age, maybe a little older . . .”
He had better hair, better teeth, and better skin than I did. He even had better shoes, and I was wearing my custom-tailored Italian loafers, a gift from a speaking client for adding-on a last minute replacement session. Mine were never all that comfortable; his were probably made by elves.
I was getting a midlife crisis just looking at this guy. OK, maybe I was older. At least I’m sure I probably looked older.
“It’s not me,” he continued, ”At least, it’s not just me. Every executive, every manager on my team seems to reach a certain age then slack off or lose focus or just start wondering what it is they’re doing with their lives.” He shook his head. “You just seem to be having so much fun.” And now he did sound envious.
“Really?” I managed. Hey, communication is my business.
“I just wish I had your joie de vie.” This guy could even say joie do vie without sounding inane. “I wish my people did too.”
I wish I had your shoes, I thought as he sauntered off.
After a moment, I started off myself, not sauntering certainly not sauntering, (with me that comes off like prowling. Or stalking). And I realized that while I may not have the answer for a midlife crisis, I do have a tactic.
It’s simple and it’s self-evident. It’s also effective. It shouldn’t take any selling at all to get people to
buy into it, yet it always seems to be the hardest sell.
I told you it was simple. At least, it’s simple to say. It’s not always that simple to do. But the first thing
I would tell an executive or a manager going through a midlife crisis is that business is like making love: if you’re not having fun you’re not doing it right. The converse is also true: if you’re not doing it right you’re probably not having any fun.
You’ve got to have fun with your job. The last thing I tell myself before I start work every morning is just
that, “Have fun. Enjoy.” Once in a while I even manage to pull it off.
If you can’t ever have fun doing what you do, maybe you should find something else to do.
Think about working to make your work fun. And making it fun for the people you work with. Sure, you’re anxious to reach your long term goals. Sure, you’re anxious to help them reach their goals. But the more enjoyable you can make the journey towards those goals, the more likely everyone is to be able to sustain the effort it takes to get there.
If you’re one of those people who’s not enjoying your life now, how long are you planning on waiting before you start?
Joie de vie! Okay, I can’t even write it without sounding inane. But you get the idea.