How good are you at making friends?
You, my friend, are one helluva intelligent and aware human being! (Free compliments today).
You've had a lifetime of being you. And so, by now, you know full well what makes you happy.
So life's pretty ace. When you need some happiness, you just do those actions that make you happy. Holiday, dance, cinema, pub, all you can eat buffet, bottomless something, unlimited everything.
But what happens when you can't use those strategies?
When you’re not able to use the methods you’re used to to make yourself happy?
I'll stop talking abstract and share an example from one of my coaching sessions. A lesson that would be useful to all of us (myself included).
Notes from coaching
My coaching client, let's call her Sapphire, came to me deeply unhappy in her new job. She'd only recently moved but was already struggling as she hadn't bonded with anyone. Not like her old job where she worked in a team and was very close with her peers. Having friends at work is hugely important to your happiness! Think how much of your time you spend at work? You see work people more than family, friends and loved ones. Gallup’s research found that having a best friend at work meant that you are seven times more likely to engage fully in work. Seven times!!
However, Sapphire’s new role was very autonomous, which she found isolating and disabling.
I can unpack this example in many ways but I wanted to focus in on one particular element here. Our first experiences and the rules we make from them.
Her first experience of creating happiness at work was through making friends in her team. Being in a team of peers and bonding over a shared boss and similar work. Although she didn’t recognize it as that at the time, peer-bonding was her happiness strategy at work – make friends with team mates. So naturally when this new role was more autonomous, when the role didn't come with a peer team, when she was actually above some people, she started to despair. How was she ever going to be happy? She must quickly leave and find a job that has the same structure!
So she came to me, as many of my clients do, desperately wanting to leave the current situation but unsure of their next move as they don’t want to repeat the same ‘mistake’ again.
As a coach I never say what’s right or wrong. What I do encourage is, before you leave a place, to make sure you give it your all in your current place. How? Adopt a new perspective. Why?
It would force her to find a new strategy for making friends. To let go of her tried and tested method, and try on a new perspective for size. Test out a few approaches!
All of us find ourselves in new environments, be it new jobs, or metaphorically speaking, when we step outside our comfort zone. It's new, it's unfamiliar. So what do we do? We panic and want to retreat to what's familiar. We want to go back to a place where we can use our well honed strategies. We don't want to be the beginner again. We want to feel and look like an expert.
But what happens if we embrace the beginner mind, and start testing out a new version of ourselves? Amazing stuff happens, that's what! We develop as a person.
Sapphire is now trying new ways of making friends. She’s creating a friendlier atmosphere in her new place. She's going out her way to engage with the freelancers, who also like her, don't have a team. That's not something she may have done had she been placed into a team. And I'm pretty sure she's going to become the most popular employee in her company very soon. So by the time she does actually leave, she would have developed many strategies for creating support and happiness in her place. So in future, she can go work anywhere, in any kind of set up. She doesn't need to rely on having one sort of set-up to be fulfilled at work.
Over to you
Have you retreated from a new environment recently? Have you shied away from being a beginner with the excuse of “I know what I like, and what I don’t like”? Staying fixed-minded about who you are, and more importantly, what you can do?
Or do you rely on one strategy to achieve results and happiness?
I know I have it in my life. Through doing talks and workshops, I’ve developed my one style of presenting. But I’ve never tried any other style. So it’s time to push myself out my comfort zone, and try a different approach (anyone know good courses let me know!).
So, over to you, what are you going to try differently this coming week?