Celebrating Work by Not Working

grillingHere in the US, today is Labor Day. A day we celebrate work, by not working. As a self employed, home-based business person, I usually forget these things.  My wife will ask, “Are you working on Monday?” And I think, “Of course. It’s Monday. Why wouldn’t I work?”

At this point I realize that for most Americans, it’s a day off. Again, from a home-based business perspective, I think of it differently. Since most of our clients are off, colleagues are off, and I can only assume all those people who call selling yellow page ads are off, I can get some actual work done. No phone calls, no email, no IM.

The flip side is that since the kids are off, it’s a great day to just hang out and play – and cook something with fire, outside. So like all things home-based business related, the key is to find a balance. So this morning I’m working.  I’ll do a little more after the kids are in bed. Then the rest of the day is in celebration of work – by not working.

And cooking with fire, outside.

In Service of Others – Choosing from a Different Perspective

file-checkerYou want to work from home. That you know more clearly than anything you’ve ever known before. The only problem – what kind of work do you want to do? You’ve explored and quickly ruled out all the semi-legit “work-from-home-opportunities” that cover the internets like kudzu. Your neighbor’s kitchen gadgets franchise seems interesting (you love to cook) but everything you bought from one of her parties is broken in a drawer somewhere. You know your talents, your unique genius, and your values, but can’t seem to think of how to turn those into a business. One excellent way to help get to the answer is to stop thinking of what will make you happy, and start thinking of what you can do for others. To borrow from Kennedy’s well known speech, “ask not what you can do for you, but ask what you can do for others.”

Ask yourself this question several times a day:

“How can I best use my unique talents and gifts to be of service to others?” Then, listen for the answer. Once you let your ego know that this isn’t just about me, the unconscious part of you that wants to contribute something of value starts to speak up. Chances are, within a few day (if not a few hours) you’ll get some clear indications about the best path for you.

Dick Richards, the author of the fabulous book Is Your Genius At Work? (which I’ll be talking about more in an upcoming post) writes this in a recent post on Purpose:

…knowledge of purpose will arrive only after the demands of ego have been transcended enough to allow that knowledge to enter awareness.

By “ego” I mean that set of personal underlying programs that concern themselves only with their own survival and gain… Those programs drive out what is needed to seize and run with a purpose: courage, willingness, surrender, open-mindedness, and other-centeredness.

Turning the spotlight on how you can serve others allows the pressure of finding work that will make you happy to be released. Once you know how you can best provide value to others, using your gifts in a way that brings you fulfillment almost always follows.

The Effect of Positive Energy and Fun

Maria Palma from CustomersAreAlways mentions a couple of overheard conversations regarding work – both positive.  I had a similar experience the other day at my favorite Chinese restaurant – only from two different ends of the spectrum.

file-checkerA few tables over, a couple was discussing their newly launched home-based venture.  I wasn’t able to gather what it was exactly, but they were ecstatic about it.  The positive energy just seemed to flow from them as they talked about being able to be home with their new baby who was quietly sleeping in next to them.

Contrast that with the conversation overheard from the table behind me.  A group was out to lunch from a local office and they were all complaining about their jobs.  One young lady in particular was livid that her boss was making her check that all the files on the network were okay after she transferred them.

“So for 4 days this week, I’ve spent most of my time opening files, looking though them to make sure they looked okay, then marking it down in a spreadsheet.  What a bullsh** job!  I’m paying a ton of money for daycare so I can come here and do busywork!  So much for my business degree…”

Now, I’m paraphrasing a bit.  I can’t remember the conversation exactly, but the bullsh** part I remember.  And the part about the money for day care.  I had this barely controllable urge to turn around and shake her yelling “dear God lady!  Do you hear yourself!  Is your new Navigator really worth THIS!”  (Okay, I’m not sure the Navigator they came in was hers, but it makes the point more dramatic.)

Maria’s point about positive energy and fun are right on.  Not only were there two radically different types of energy being felt, but they affected those around them differently.  I couldn’t help but notice how the same waitress was a great server to the first couple and a “…slow and I ordered a spring roll” type of waitress to the file-checker lady behind me.  The waitress didn’t change, and neither did her level of service. The difference was the perception of the ones being served.

A Nice Surprise

good-lifeWell yesterday was not only Blog Day, but it was Blog Surprise Day as well. I was fortunate enough to be surprised by Easton Ellsworth from BusinessBlogWire. What a cool feeling to be read after only 2 days! I actually have a couple of subscribers that aren’t my wife. And traffic! (Well more back road type traffic rather than highway, but still, traffic!)

Okay, no more exclamation points. On with the show…

New Pin Drop Test – Back to School Week

pin-dropSprint used to have an ad that used a pin drop test to show how clear calls on their network could be. This week I had my own annual pin drop test – the kids are back in school and the silence is deafening.

Working from home you get used to certain routines and work habits. Annette Clancy at Interactions talks about rituals as part of “Staying Sane When You Work From Home:”

Ritualise: Create rituals around the beginning and ending of your work day – this is particularly pertinent if you don’t have an official work space in your home. I sometimes burn different aromatherapy oils to transition from one space to another. Clients of mine dress in a particular way if they are in work mode and another when they are not – simply to create a boundary.

These rituals naturally revolve around the rest of the household – for me, the wife and kids. So during the summer, the routines, along with the noise level, reach new levels of fullness. After about day 5 of summer vacation, I get use to the noise. It becomes part of my office chatter (which sure beats “Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking. Just a moment… Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking. Just a moment… Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking. Just a moment…” and repeat). So when the silence returns, it takes some getting used to.

So I fire up the iPod, invite the snoring dog back into the office, and get ready for a few months of new office rituals.