We are coming up to the 20th anniversary of writing my first book How to Make Work Fun!
How to Make Work Fun! was written for a very different world of work. In the mid-90s, the biggest stress we seemed to face was the possibility that each day of our working life would be so predictable as to be boring.
Now my clients receive extraordinary levels of pay but in return for extraordinary investments of their time – morning, noon, night and weekend (“…but I always stop at 6pm Sunday to have dinner with the family”, said one) – and exhaustion rather lack of stimulation seems to be the main danger.
But oh what innocent days the 90s seemed to be.
I cringe now at some of the prescriptions I wrote back then. I like to think I was responsible for an early version of Bullshit Bingo with my ideas of how to enliven a deadly-dull meeting by scoring points for weaving into your dialogue names of movies (and losing all your points if someone outside the game realized what you were up to).
And some of the anachronisms are entertaining. Pre-email, the fax machine seemed to be a cutting edge technology and something I seemed to make much of. But you must understand, I was writing this book only a couple of years out of theater, where we were still waving our arms around as a communication channel.
But much of the spirit of the book I stand by to this day. For example, that work is an undeniably time-consuming aspect of our life and to consign it to being some form of punishment or slavery necessarily consigns much of our whole life to imprisonment. That work can be an expression of our gifts and talents in the world as well as being the way we create wealth through our efforts. That work can be anywhere on a scale or ladder from drudgery down at the bottom to toleration in the lower-middle, on to enjoyment and upwards to meaning, purpose and service. Our work as making a difference, for ourselves as well as others. That is still true for me now.
I was always proud that nowhere in the book did I define what ‘fun’ was or should be, leaving that ‘fun’ (or indeed lack of it) to be something we are each responsible for expressing.
In this sense, there was always a question hidden behind that upbeat, promising title (I remember the meeting with the publishers where we debated whether to have an exclamation point at the end!) – and the question is ‘Because if it is not ‘fun’ then what is work for you – and why would you do that to yourself?’
And in this sense, my work on The 1000 Letter Project – and my inquiry into Work As Love Made Visible has the same source as How to Make Work Fun! – not just a stand against the default idea that work is some form of suffering, but that our life is all work, all a making – from OE woerken, meaning ‘to make’ – and we have a say how mean or magnificent that making is.
I’m running a webinar next Friday called How to Make Work Fun!: Then & Now where I’ll explore some of these developments and themes and answer your questions about work, life ‘and the whole damn thing’.
I’d love for you to join me! See the post below…