Do you leave yourself at home when you go to work?

An associate director in the operations division of an Australian financial institution was hitting the snooze button, Monday to Friday, without fail.  At work she felt like a square peg in a round hole.  She was in a senior position with plenty of responsibility but she wasn’t a numbers person at all, and being at work drained her of her energy.

It won’t take a great leap of imagination for many of you to connect with the situation of the associate director. I can certainly relate, myself.

Especially because that associate director was me.

Light at the end of the tunnel

The turnaround came when I started to rebel. But I didn’t take on my boss.  I didn’t have a go at anyone, have a tantrum, or quit on the spot.

What I rebelled against was my own pre-conceived, tired, stale idea about how I needed to behave as a person in authority.

And slowly, I started to love my work again.

Here are 3 steps to reconnecting the real “you” with the work “you” so that you can open up your heart to loving what you do for a living.

 Start to notice the moments that you enjoy at work

I was so steeped in my “story” that I wasn’t a numbers person that I blinded myself to the times at work when I actually loved what I was doing.

Over the next week, notice the parts of your day (even if they’re fleeting) that give you a warm feeling of inner satisfaction, or that make you smile.  Capture what you’re doing in those moments.

Identify what you’re contributing

At the end of your week, review your list.  Is there a theme or a pattern for your moments of joy?

Take those specific items on your list and see if you can come up with a few words to describe yourself.  If your happy moments come when you’re explaining a complex idea to someone and they suddenly understand, are you a teacher deep down?   Maybe your smile happens when you run a meeting and keep people organised.  Is facilitation your joy?

Find ways to do that more of that

The things that you enjoy at work are already a part of what you do, or you wouldn’t have experienced them.

Now that you consciously know what they are, examine how these happy moments can become a regular part of your work day.  Even if you have little control over what your actual tasks are, you do have at least some control over how you do that work, so why not bring more of the best of you to it?

My joy was in developing the managers in my teams and watching them become true leaders.  Over time, that discovery resulted in a career change and now leadership development is at the core of what I do.

And I’ll never leave myself at home when I go to work again.


Debbie Thompson is a leadership coach who combines her years in leadership positions with her love of coaching high achievers to outstanding results.  She works to help managers, leaders and business owners master “that leadership thing” so that they get more clarity, have more impact, and multiply their influence.