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8 Ways to Recharge a Tired Old Job

8 Ways to Recharge a Tired Old Job

    There’s been speculation that as the economy recovers, many people who’ve been stuck in their jobs and unable to find new ones, will suddenly pick up and move to greener pastures. In contrast there are also predictions of a “jobless recovery,” which may mean being stuck in a lackluster job longer than these people (or maybe you) expected or would prefer. If that scenario plays out, it’s vital to recharge while still in your current job. Both near-term success and preparing for future successful moves make this essential.

    Having been in one company for way longer than I ever expected, I had to reinvent myself multiple times to stay sane, productive, and continue to grow personally and professionally. These 8 strategies can help you recharge your job if you feel you’re getting stale:

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    1. Document the lessons you’ve learned.

    Having been around the block a few times at your job you’ll have learned many lessons about what works and doesn’t in your profession, your company, and your industry. Thinking back on the strategic lessons you’ve learned provides an opportunity to start a blog, do presentations, record a podcast, or write an ebook. Sharing your knowledge in this way can build your stature with a broader audience to help pave the way for your next career move.

    2. Reuse, recycle, and revamp.

    If you’ve been a student of what you do, you should know a variety of techniques, models, and strategies that make you more effective. Having previously worked through them to understand what and how they deliver results, you’re in a unique position to begin tweaking them more aggressively. Rather than being stuck doing things one way over and over, you can modify certain elements to test for improved performance in subsequent uses.

    3. Simplify business models, processes, or messages.

    Mark Twain had a famous quote apologizing for the long length of a letter, mentioning he didn’t have the time to make it shorter. Most of us face the same challenge – it takes time to simplify things. Having been in your job for some time however, you’re in the perfect position to bring simplicity to your job and what your company does. Every business can use more simplicity. Take advantage of your tenure to create greater value by being the person who has the experience to make things easy, clear, and free of unnecessary detail.

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    4. Devote yourself to new learning.

    Smart kids who are bored with school get into trouble when they aren’t challenged. Same thing happens in careers, too. The difference is in a work setting, you typically have to find ways to challenge yourself. If your mental energies aren’t fully engaged currently, get yourself going mentally with additional reading, training, or just plain experimenting with new techniques in your chosen field. You’ll become even more valuable in today’s job and whatever lies ahead for you.

    5. Become a mentor.

    What better way to take advantage of expertise you’ve developed from having been in one place for a while than by sharing it with others in your company? It’s not only beneficial for another person; mentoring pays dividends for you as well. You’ll learn new angles on what you know through explaining it to someone else. You’ll increase the size of your “fan” base within the company. Ideally, you’ll also prepare someone to be your own replacement, helping free you for other opportunities inside your company should you elect to stay longer.

    6. Redesign your job.

    Use your knowledge and view of the business to identify areas where you can make a stronger contribution or fix problems that exist today. Document your thoughts and start introducing them to your boss toward redesigning your job. Just remember this: focus on the results and benefits you’ll deliver for the company, not on what’s frustrating you about your current position. Doing so will make your boss a lot more likely to hear you out and consider your proposal.

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    7. Find new ways to use your talents.

    If you’ve delivered results in your current job, you’re obviously known for the talents you possess. Build off that success to find new places to apply your talents inside your company. The key is to generalize what you do. For instance rather than thinking of yourself as a “finance person,” recast that as having “an aptitude for numbers and measurement.” All of a sudden, you might be able to look at a variety of metrics and monitoring-oriented positions such as project management, marketing analysis, call center management, etc.

    8. Be a bolder you.

    Early in a new job, you may feel pressured to dial back your personality to fit in. As you gain comfort, it’s time to introduce more of your personality into what you do. Are there talents, hobbies, or other passions you have which only get time and attention outside work? If so, look for ways to introduce those elements into your work. Maybe you’ve developed knowledge and experience in social media. Look for ways to bring that to your work setting to help drag your company into this century.

    Try these strategies while you’re seeking something better. You may improve your current gig so much that staying actually becomes viable!

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    Last Updated on June 12, 2019

    Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

    Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

    Humor and laughter provide so many rewards. Studies have shown 20 seconds of laughter yield the same benefits as 3 minutes of hard rowing. A Robert Half International study reported 84% of executives believe a worker with a good sense of humor does a better job. Incorporating humor more effectively in the workplace allows you to defuse difficult situations, reduce stress, create attention for new ideas, build rapport, and be a more approachable and memorable leader.

    With those benefits, it behooves you to hone your workplace comedic skills. So in the tradition of David Letterman, here are the top 10 ways to more effectively lead with humor!

    #10. Look for Joy in Life

    An important step is continually looking for joy throughout your life. This happens in a variety of ways:

    • Focus less on yourself and more on helping others. Need help? Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the classic by Dale Carnegie.
    • Laugh more – kids reportedly laugh 400 times per day vs. 15 times for adults. Aim for laughing 40 times daily to be at least 10% of your former self!
    • Regularly read humorous comic strips and look for quips and funny comments in your reading.
    • Even in challenging situations, hunt for something funny or humorous you can take away.

    #9. Learn What Makes You Laugh

    If you’re trying to laugh 40 times daily, it’s important to know what makes you laugh and have ready access to laugh-provokers. Figure out 107 things which make you laugh. Unrealistic? Hardly! Why 107? Because 107 is funnier than 100! Here’s a recipe for listing what makes you laugh by simply identifying:

    • 13 Movies
    • 11 TV Shows
    • 5 Words or Phrases
    • 19 Personal Stories
    • 5 Cartoons
    • 7 Audio or Video Pieces
    • 11 Comedians
    • 7 TV Personalities
    • 7 Funny Photos
    • 7 People You Know
    • 15 of Anything Else
    • TOTAL = 107 Funny Things

    Collect & save these humor starters in a “Smile File” when you quickly need a laugh or comedic inspiration.

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    #8. Use Your Own Comedic Material

    Personal experiences are the most genuine humor sources for effective leadership. Look for humor in situations from your own life:

    • Funny things you have said or others have said to you
    • Pratfalls, be they mental, interpersonal, & physical
    • Embarrassing moments or unexpected happenings
    • Times of change or learning
    • Difficult life events (yes, even these can be humor sources)

    When turning personal situations into comedic material, remember lessons learned from a childhood humor staple: Knock-Knock Jokes. These simple jokes work because the knock-knock structure highlights familiar situations, uses only essential words and phrases, and clearly signals a laughing opportunity. They also demonstrate how humor springs from surprise. The laughs come from not knowing who or what exactly is behind the door based on the initial response to “Who’s there?”

    #7. Adapt Somebody Else’s Material

    Beyond your own experiences, there’s a tradition of “borrowing & adapting” (I didn’t say stealing) funny stuff from others. That’s why old-time comedian Milton Berle was called the “Thief of Bad Gags.”

    Part of borrowing successfully is using easily accessible humor sources in ways many don’t consider. Beyond simply Googling “funny” in front of quotes, one-liners, definitions, pictures, or videos, here are two other common sources you can adapt:

    • Cartoons – You can use cartoons in various ways by showing one in a presentation, telling the cartoon’s story (potentially making yourself a character) without any images, or using its punch line as a starting point for new humor.
    • Comedians – Mainstream comedians’ jokes or catch phrases are another source to modify and adapt to your personality or work situation. Watch lots of comedians and learn how professionals do it so well.

    #6. Understand Your Audience

    Using humor in a leadership position requires understanding boundaries on its proper use. It all starts with really understanding your audience by:

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    • Paying attention to top management’s attitudes toward humor.
    • Knowing the audience’s composition – this directly affects which humor types are appropriate.
    • Loving your audience as much or more than you poke fun at them.
    • Inviting others into humor since you can’t assume they share your same humor sensibilities.

    In case you’re contemplating using ad lib humor, completely knowing your audience is even more vital. Ad-libs have the potential for going horribly wrong because audience sensibilities have been misjudged. It’s very beneficial to actually plan and rehearse ad libs. It may sound odd, but identify common work situations you encounter and think through what usually goes wrong or provides a source for potential humor. Work out some “safe” funny comebacks to use as “planned” ad libs.

    #5. Know the Rules and Boundaries

    There are blatant humor no-no’s in the workplace which are quite acceptable for an onstage comedian. At work, avoid harmful practical jokes or pranks, heavily sarcastic comments, and humor rooted in religious, sexual, ethnic, or racial themes. Think you know your work setting well enough to tread on this dangerous ground? Here’s some advice: DON’T. The way questionable humor will be perceived by a workplace audience is too much of an unknown to take big risks when your career is at stake.

    Use this checkpoint to actually see if your intended workplace humor is SAFE. To pass the SAFE test, all of these statements need to be true regarding your joke, comment, or image:

    • I can Say/Show this to my mother.
    • It wouldn’t Anger me if I were the butt of the joke.
    • This wouldn’t trigger an FCC violation
    • Everyone in the audience will be able to get it.

    With even a hint of one false answer, dramatically modify your idea or better yet, abandon it and start over.

    #4. Get over Yourself

    Effective leaders don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re comfortable laughing at themselves and letting others be funny as well. Leaders should become adept at appropriately using self-deprecating humor, i.e., self-directed humor downplaying your own talents, stature, or accomplishments

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    You don’t want to use self-deprecating humor on simply any topic, however. It’s most effectively & appropriately used in:

    • Situations where you’re comfortable & self-confident
    • Areas where your credibility & competence are clearly established
    • Ways that fit your known personality & sensibilities

    Remember – when trying to borrow someone else’s self-deprecating humor, you need to share that person’s perspective & situation. If not, it’s simply deprecating! I once heard a decidedly non-technical Marketing VP call out “data geeks” in the audience. While that’s what they called themselves, she wasn’t a part of their group, and her comment, intended to build affiliation, fell completely flat.

    #3. Need Humor Ideas? Just Look Around

    The workplace is filled with situations lending themselves to comedy. Humor springs from exaggeration, wordplay, misunderstandings, ambiguity, contradictions, paradoxes, pain, and inconsistencies. If you work in any type of business or organizational setting, there are plenty of these situations to go around!

    As a leader, it’s your role to use the proper opptunities to encourage and employ humor successfully by ensuring that:

    • Your humor makes others feel good about themselves.
    • Hurtful fun isn’t made of those less tenured than you in the organization.
    • You don’t use humor when agitated since it can lead to apparent meanness.

    #2. Surround Yourself with Joy

    If you’re looking for more joy and levity in leadership, surround yourself with joyful people. These are people who are funny, easily spur laughter, and routinely cheer people up through their presence.

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    Cultivate relationships with these types of people. Spend time with them, learn from their successful uses of humor, and emulate elements of their approaches that work for you.

    Beyond basking in the joy these people create, select 3 or 4 of them to be an informal comedy team. As your comedy team, solicit their opinions to help you generate and refine humor ideas. They can also provide perspectives on potentially questionable humor material that makes it through the SAFE test, but still feels like it might not be right for a workplace audience.

    #1. Dive into the Fun

    Ultimately, the most important part of successfully using humor as a leader is actually sharing it in the workplace. Here are a few final tips to keep in mind:

    • Practice your humor in appropriate, low-risk settings to find out what works before trying it out with a bigger audience.
    • Signal a laughing opportunity through your words, actions, and tone. It’s also a good practice to give people “permission” to laugh in the workplace.
    • Finally, be earnest in using humor; don’t focus on laughs so much as lightening and adding fun into work settings.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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