Note: While reading a book whenever I come across something interesting, I highlight it on my Kindle. Later I turn those highlights into a blogpost. It is not a complete summary of the book. These are my notes which I intend to go back to later. Let’s start!
He took the first step designers always take—he accepted the situation and, by accepting his situation, he began the process of designing his work life. First, he decided to plan positive energy breaks at three-hour intervals every day. He would get up from his desk, take a walk around the grounds of the company, then go to the cafeteria and buy an ice-cream cone. He gained weight, but he also found something that made him happy every few hours and helped him feel reengaged with his work when he sat back down at his desk. The day felt less difficult with these scheduled breaks, and Garth felt less like he was doing time in prison. Buying an ice-cream cone is pretty doable. That was solution number one. Second, Garth looked around at this large, vast, complicated company and decided he could learn a lot from the smart people there, particularly those outside his Marketing department. He decided to visit the other parts of the organization and learn as much as possible. He especially connected with the Sales department and learned everything there was to learn from them when it came to telecommunications sales. It turned out that having friends in Sales helped him in his marketing job. Garth’s job still sucked—it was not the one he had been promised. But Garth got curious and started talking to people and, because he was learning new things every day, the pay was decent, and he was able to get good work done, he was able to live into the “good enough for now” point of view. And after eighteen months—enough time that it wouldn’t look so bad on his résumé—Garth decided to change jobs. Because of some positive recommendations from his friends in Sales, he was able to move to a better job in a much better company. In the end, he left feeling successful, with some great relationships, and with his résumé (and soul) intact. The good enough for now reframe helped Garth, and it is going to help you stop being one of the disengaged at work, stop being a statistic, and begin designing your work life. Let’s be really clear here—we’re not trying to tell you to lie to yourself or settle for a miserable job or even for an unsatisfying one. We are suggesting that, to change your point of view and to start moving toward more happiness, it is best to stop waiting for something or someone else to change. You have no control over other people, and little control sometimes of your circumstances (just ask Garth). When we design our work life, we begin by accepting what is, and then find small ways to redesign our circumstances. We get curious, talk to people, try stuff, and start telling a new story. In the process, we find ourselves more engaged, and more energized. All from adopting the point of view that what we have is good enough, for now. Not for forever. For now.
Good Enough for Now is a reframe, not a rename.
- When you reframe, you are actually completely reorganizing how you structure your perception of a situation (which of course means a new point of view), which fundamentally alters how you focus your attention and deploy your bias to action. When it works, this results in a substantively different story and experience.
- Let’s analyze Garth’s reframe to good enough for now with this understanding of the difference between renaming and reframing. First Garth accepted his situation, and then he reframed it from “getting satisfaction from my job and my boss” to “being around new talented people and learning new things.” He also identified something in his situation that would be of real value to his employer (and to Garth) and focused his attention there (in Garth’s case, getting Marketing and Sales working together). Garth didn’t just put a happy “rename” on a bad job; he designed a whole new outlook and framing (reframing) for his job. He could answer the question “How’s it going?” with “It’s going pretty well, thanks,” and that was an honest answer based on his reframed reality. Sure, the crummy parts of the job persisted, but by accepting his situation and directing his attention to other things, Garth was able to make it work at work.
Complete a 7th Day Reflection exercise once a week. Savor your experiences, and then dig around in them for insights. You may find that the mind-sets of bias to action and reframing are becoming second nature, and this will cause you to experience your work, whatever it is, in an entirely new way. You will start to notice how much more relaxed and energetic you are. And how much more available you are—to other people and to the opportunities that have started showing up all around you. Pretty soon, good enough for now will start to feel really good. That’s because you are no longer asking from the backseat of your life, “Are we there yet?” You’re in the driver’s seat.
- Dave finally accepted that he is actually a workaholic, not because he loves work, but because he can’t stop. And just as alcoholics probably shouldn’t work in liquor stores, workaholics like Dave shouldn’t work in Silicon Valley start-ups where the jobs are never, ever done. As a consultant, Dave was able to bring his Workview and Lifeview into coherence, and he found a way to manage his tendency to overwork. And he’s never looked back.
- Money, impact, and expression—three different ways for people to measure what they make, at work and in their lives. It’s a good way to “measure” how successful you are, and note that it is not another false dichotomy or an either/or situation. Finding your “mix” of all three maker-metrics will increase your sense of success and happiness, so coming up with a good mix for you, for now, of money, impact, and expression is important.
You may have heard of MVP, which stands for Minimum Viable Product. It’s a big idea in the world of innovation and entrepreneurship. Start-ups know that getting any new product to market is really, really hard. You don’t want to make it any harder than you have to—so the idea is to just build your first product with all the valuable (viable) features and no more. That’s a great idea, and it applies to reframing, too, but this time instead of MVP we will call it “MAP,” which stands for Minimum Actionable Problem. Once you have reframed your big hairy problem, once you’ve turned it into its Minimum Actionable Problem, you get to solve a much smaller and more tractable problem. Life is hard enough on its own. Seriously. If everyone’s life was perfect and jobs were hassle-free, nobody would be reading our books. Don’t add to the burden by making your problems any bigger than necessary.
We find that so-called insurmountable problems like Bernie’s are usually either (1) truly inactionable and therefore circumstances to accept and not actionable problems (we call these “gravity problems,” because, well, there’s nothing you can do about gravity, it just is), or (2) poorly framed problems that we can reframe to make them more actionable. It’s that second group we really want to focus on here. So it’s time to learn the art of reframing and cash in on our free do-over. It takes a few tries to get it, and you’ll get a lot better with practice.
Reframing will get you moving toward a Best Doable Option that can result in a better design for your life at work—and that’s what we’re after.
We encourage you to start prototyping small changes to your task list. You will discover that you have more agency than you think, and whether you have to ask for permission to try something or not, you are the initiator.
- At the end of the workday, we are the one responsible for making our job feel challenging and fun. Whether we are driving a bus or driving a corporate merger, this is true for any and every job. And to make our job fun and rewarding, we need to again turn to the psychologists. The research on human motivation, called “self-determination theory,” says that we are intrinsically motivated animals, and, in addition to responding to external motivations, a full understanding of human motivation requires an understanding of our innate psychological needs for Autonomy, Relatedness, and Competence (ARC).
Ask yourself, any time you’ve seen something change where you work, what happened just before that change? The answer is a decision. If we changed the carpet, if we got a new copier, if we sold the company to some multinational banking operation, if we decided to buy trucks and stop renting them—any and all changes happen because of a decision. A decision caused the change. Directly. So, ask yourself, What is required at work to make a decision? It’s not time, or luck, or good looks. It’s authority. To make a change happen, you need to be the person who has that authority.
- Influence that matters acts on the people with the authority who are making decisions, often by providing an informed opinion on the pros and cons of the decision in question. So if you’ve been influential on a decision that resulted in a change, your influence was well received by the authoritarians. That is a form of power in any organization. Making a lot of noise and trying to insert yourself into the decision process might look like it’s being influential, but it’s not. If the wannabe influencer doesn’t have an impact on the decision, he or she isn’t one. Influence equals having an impact on the authoritarians who are making decisions that cause changes to occur. At the core of it, the true definition of politics is the wielding of influence.
- Influence is therefore the sum of the value you contribute and the recognition you get from contributing that value. Influence = Value + Recognition It’s all about value. This is a really important idea to understand, and it’s going to get you over your negative feelings about politics. When we’re talking about politics, we’re talking about the wielding of influence, the kind of influence that acts on authority, authority with the power to make decisions. And that influence comes from a very legitimate place; it comes from the real value you create, strategically and culturally aligned, for your organization.
When designing your work life, we want you to be able to take this newfound X-ray vision, and the knowledge that organizations are three-dimensional, whirling pyramids of influence and authority, and make it work for you. Politics, in healthy organizations, is about making the organization run better. Once you can see (through walls, even) what’s going on, and understand how the power and politics work, then you can decide what kind of influencer you want to be. Align yourself with the organization’s strategies and goals, and make sure that you are values-aligned with your own compass, and we predict good things will happen. Because that’s just good politics. And once you start getting the hang of relating to and wielding influence more effectively, then you might want to try your hand at pulling off one of the most powerful moves you can make in your career—redesigning your job right where you are.
- If you can’t afford to move, reframe and reenlist is a good way to make it good enough for now. It’s quite straightforward: (1) Accept the new reality. (2) Identify new sources of “why” that you can use as your rationale for your job. (3) Reframe your relationship to the job and company. (4) Reenlist and live into it. (5) Look for new benefits and sources of satisfaction along the way to make it good enough…for now.