Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Finding Happiness as Your Own Boss

Since early April, I've been an independent consultant. I've never been a big risk-taker, and I actually have always enjoyed the security that comes with a steady paycheck and the benefits of a corporate job.

I'd often read those self-help books that encourage people to quit their jobs if they're unhappy, but, being the frugal, responsible person I am, I disagreed with the approach of quitting.  Instead, I thought, better to find happiness and resolve whatever problems you have with your job.  Reorgs happen, bosses change, responsibilities change, and if you have a positive attitude and do your best, you will find happiness...  at least that's what I thought.

But as it so happened, I got laid off, and I got my chance to give this independent consulting thing a try. My kids are all grown and I had a nice little nest egg saved up to tide me over while I was getting started.

As it turns out, I've never been happier. I hadn't realized how absolutely freeing it is to have total autonomy! I can decide when and how I work. I can decide to take a nap in the middle of the day. I can decide to take my laptop to Pearl Street and sip on a margarita while I'm working on an article. I can take my granddaughter to her 9am dance class and watch her joyful little 3-year-old body spin around without feeling a twinge of guilt or worry about "getting back to work."

Now, of course, not everyone who quits their job can suddenly enjoy this leisurely lifestyle.  I feel extremely fortunate that I have a great network and contacts, so I'm getting enough work between short teaching gigs and writing assignments to still bring in a good income. It's not as steady and secure, but the trade-off of flexibility and more time to enjoy life has been priceless.

Do I recommend this? Not necessarily. I couldn't have done this 5 years ago. I still had a son in high school and more responsibilities and bills to pay.  It can be stressful to find clients and always be on the lookout for work. And even though you no longer have a boss to answer to, if you want to make it on your own, you have to be disciplined in continuing to work your business. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Baltimore, teaching a class, and on the second day, I got sick.  It was the first time, I saw a real downside of working for myself... there was no option to "call in sick." If I didn't finish teaching the class, I wouldn't have gotten paid, and probably would have hurt my chances for getting additional training opportunities.

If you're dependent on the income, I still think it's better to keep your job if most of the time, you're happy at work.  For me, one of the most important factors of my workplace happiness is having a boss who believes in me. In one of my recent articles for TechBeacon, I share 13 motivators for software engineers. We're living in an age now where managers are recognizing how important it is to give their staff more flexibility and autonomy. If you're lucky, you will have that whether you work for yourself or for someone else.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Future of Work

The Future Of Work Will Look Like ThisThis infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe. Learn about employee engagement surveys that will help you create a better tomorrow!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Join My Happiness Circle

I am starting a Circle and would like you to be part of it.  It's easy to get started, just follow this link:

Because of all my interest in "Happiness," I'm subscribed to a site called "Project Happiness," and recently signed up to be one of the first leaders of a "Happiness Circle."   I received a "Circle Kit" and prompts and suggestions for how to run a Happiness Circle.  The next step is to invite friends.

Even though I have over 800 Facebook "friends," historically I haven't gotten too much interest in any of this "touchy-feely" kind of stuff, so I'm a little skeptical about how big my circle is going to get, but actually, this is a great opportunity for me because I really wanted to research "virtual connection."

So, what I'd really like to do is form two Happiness Circles...  one of them would meet face-to-face (as the Circle Kit suggests). The other would be a "Virtual Happiness Circle" and we would "meet" either with a conference call, a virtual meeting room, or maybe through some other tool...  It would give people more flexibility, but I'd like to come up with some exercises designed to help create friendships and trust, to see how people bond when they aren't face-to-face.  (I'd like to write a book and create a workshop about forming strong virtual teams, so this would help with that research.)

If you have any interest in being part of my Happiness Circle, click the link above, and also leave me a comment or email.  If you don't live close to Superior, Colorado, let me know if you'd be willing to be part of a Virtual Happiness Circle!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Positivity Leads to Productivity

Though Agile Coaching has been one of my responsibilities as a development manager in the corporate world, I've very recently transitioned to independent consultant and full-time Agile Coach!

Those of you who aren't in the world of software development probably have no idea what an "Agile Coach" is, but basically, it's a coach who helps teams adopt "Agile practices."  And what are "Agile Practices" you ask?  Well, that's a pretty long topic, but one thing that Agile coaches care about is.... you guessed it...  Workplace Happiness!

In fact, in a LinkedIn Agile Coaching Group Discussion today, Michael Tarnowski posted a link to this article: Positive Teams are More Productive.

The article, written by Emma Seppälä, (that's a pretty cool name, isn't it?), published in the Harvard Business Review confirms that a workplace that promotes positive and virtuous practices is the surest way to improve productivity.

From the article,

Positive and virtuous practices include:
  • Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  • Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling.
  • Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes.
  • Inspiring one another at work.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust & integrity.

There are four recommendations for organizations to add positive practices to their company:

  1. Leadership - Support from the top
  2. Culture - Implement changes designed to be positive and virtuous
  3. Small Steps - Spend time each day doing things like gratitude journals or other positive habits
  4. Retreats and Workshops - Strategic focus on positive practices and leadership
I love that last one because creating Agile Retreats is one of my future goals! I even bought the domain the other day!

What small steps can you take to create a positive atmosphere at your workplace?