Five lessons from fatherhood that’ll increase your satisfaction at work

Mark Fielding recommends being more like your children if you want to get ahead at work. In some ways.

Toddler plays with multicoloured bricks in childcare setting

 

80% of the working population don’t like their job. And yet work makes you happy.

“The strongest predictor of men’s happiness and well-being is their job satisfaction, by a large margin.” By a large margin? This is both interesting and alarming. Can more light be shone on our wellbeing project? “…and the strongest predictor of job satisfaction is whether men feel they are making an impact on their companies’ success.”

There is a troubling disconnect here between what we know and how we act: a mass unhappiness pandemic is streaming out of our workplaces and only a small percentage of the media is talking at length about it, much less how to fix it. This, running in tandem with the emotional and professional chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaves us pondering a very concerning future.

As working dads we have to lead by example and show our children how to live a happy and fulfilling life. But we also have responsibilities. We can’t all just quit and look for another job, seek out satisfaction under another employment stone. But neither should we resign ourselves to an unhappy work place.

Instead, perhaps there is something else we can do? A middle ground which empowers us to make an impact in the working environments we now (mostly) call home, and give our happiness and wellbeing a boost?

Pivot is the wrong word

Pivot is a designer word Time Magazine is throwing around like confetti at a wedding. I don’t feel it is completely relevant for most working dads. You know, because we aren’t all entrepreneurs altering our strategy to an increasingly agile and precarious world.

Instead of pivoting, I want you to do something much more fun. I want you to think like your children.

Bear with me; this is much more lucid than it might first appear.

LinkedIn recently published an article on the most in demand soft skills of 2020.

Would you agree that by increasing your skill base you increase your utilisation in your company? And by increasing your utilisation you increase you responsibility? Follow the logic and by increasing your responsibility, yes, you increase your job satisfaction and in turn your happiness and wellbeing. (You may think you can reach the same goals by doubling down and focusing on one particular skill. The anti-fragile future isn’t one of specialisation, you need to be adaptable.)

Right you are Mark, but what has this got to do with my children?

Look carefully at these five skills and you will see that LinkedIn and, as a consequence, business in general, is essentially looking to hire your kids.

Creativity

Find me any adult who is one tenth as creative as your kids.

Creativity is born of curiosity. It is defined as the tendency to generate or recognise ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and those around us. In other words: four-year olds.

Picasso said, “Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” Einstein said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Matisse said “Creativity takes courage.”

Creativity is in short supply in the adult world; it’s no surprise it occupies position number one on the list of desired traits HR departments look for in new hires. Our kids, on the other hand, are creativity personified. So be like your children and get more creativity flowing through your bloodstream.

But how?

Creativity is a muscle, flex it. Place a dumbbell on it and do some reps.

What should I lift?

Andrew Ng (formerly) of Google said, “In my own life, I found that whenever I wasn’t sure what to do next, I would go and learn a lot, read a lot, talk to experts. I don’t know how the human brain works but it’s almost magical: when you read enough or talk to enough experts, when you have enough inputs, new ideas start appearing.”

Be curious, be passionate. Read. Reach out. Sleep more. Journal. Walk, run, relax. Meditate. Try a new hobby, exotic food. Read fiction if you only read non-fiction, and vice versa. Watch something new. Broaden your horizons.

Your input equals your output. As a writer, this is one of the mantras I live by. To be more creative, do likewise. And new ideas will start appearing.

Experiment and discover what works for you.

Persuasion

“This is the last one.”

“This is the last time.”

It rarely is.

Persuasion attempts to influence a person’s beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations, or behaviours.

And your children have it in abundance.

Whereas the other soft skills on this list could take time to see fruition – at least to the outside world – a little work on persuasion and you will start to see changes instantly. Learning a few persuasion – or, my favourite at the moment, PRE-suasion – techniques could radically change the way you speak to your superiors, equals and subordinates, causing them to see your skills, input and creativity in a different light and, as a result, thinking of you next time they need someone’s ear.

Collaboration

Getting ready for school, getting dressed, packing the car, lunch times, dinner times, bed times. Being a dad is all about collaboration. Collaborating with your wife, husband and kids to reach a goal. And you know when you are collaborating well and when you aren’t. Take the same philosophy to work.

Adaptability

You don’t need to be Charles Darwin to know how important adaptability will be in the increasingly fragile working landscape. But just as apex predators adapt to their prey, you are adapting to your children’s developing language, fluctuating emotional state and constantly changing questions, wants, needs and problems. In turn your children have to adapt as their body and mind develop. Every day they learn new skills and social norms which have to fit into the mental constructs they are building.

As Darwin said, “it is not the strongest or the most intelligent of the species that thrives but those who can best manage change.”

Take this knowledge from your home life and use it at work. Being more adaptable will spread your utilisation in the company, and, as we have already said, increase your responsibility and in turn your satisfaction.

Emotional Intelligence

Hello Empathy. One week you say something and your daughter sits serenely and listens. The next week she explodes like Krakatoa.

Emotional Intelligence is defined as the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions and those of others in positive ways (to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict).

There are four types of Emotional Intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, all of which you use in your family life. Take this expertise to work.

Final Thoughts

You have experience and familiarity with the most in demand skills in the world of work. How I have described it may appear childlike, but having this knowledge will add depth and clarity to your understanding and give you an anchor for joining the dots when you read, take classes or look for certification. It will help you to leverage what you know and be more salient at work.

So be like your children.

And get more satisfaction at work.





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