This is Mikey.
When I actually make it to the gym, Mikey has been there and he has become my therapy dog. Mikey, unlike Kevin, loves attention anywhere, anytime, and he is eager to offer his soft fur for a vigorous scratch around the ears. His enthusiastic tail wag during scratching affirms that I have finally pleased someone this week. The rest of the week is about trying to please others; clients, co-workers, family, and even some friends. It is ridiculous to believe that I can please everyone - impossible. There are too many egos and personal agendas that do not make it a reality to fulfill everyone's whim. What I try to achieve is mutual respect and understanding.
A key element to success in a sandbox (or litterbox) is to have unspoken or spoken personal parameters. These could be things like not questioning a co-workers authority in front of a client or contractor; the exchange of small pleasantries before meetings, or in some instances, no acknowledgement to save time, but all understand that is acceptable and no offense is taken; the quick nod of the head in agreement with positive action. The sandbox should be fun, productive, and innovative if required. It is also a place to learn, build strength, and create memories. Respecting a person or having a mutual understanding of personalities, doesn't always mean you need to please them. It just means you need to try and do the best that you can. When we don't feel like we are being tested or trying to please people we can relax and begin to enjoy challenging the typical ideals or mediocrity, or feel inspired to do our work, not repressed.
There is the theory that respect has to be earned. Yes, deep respect has to be earned, but as a part of being a good human, we need to start at some level of respect for another person. The exception is when you may not respect a person based-on knowledge of previous actions or behaviour. Or you may lose a level of respect during a project because of actions or behaviour. If you were Kevin the Cat, you could ignore them. If you were Mikey, you could growl at them. However, as bipedal creatures, we either need to find something we could respect about them even if it is just their taste in shoes, or dig deep and fain respect for the greater good of the project team.
Returning to fun, sometimes we don't get the project exactly right. The outcome isn't achieving expectations or intent. Building in the sandbox has the same issues as things don't always work. Although there is the appearance of failure, perception of the outcome can change if the process of creating has been fun. Fun seems to be associated with kids at play or not sophisticated in our corporate culture of rules and regulations. Fun is timeless. If you have a smile on your face as you are working on some complex problem or excited about the prospect of an idea, you are having fun. If the end of the day you feel 80% content, then you had fun. If a co-worker told a good joke and you laughed out loud, you are having fun. It may be crazy, but projects can be fun.
As I collapse on the floor after my workout, Mikey comes over wagging his tail for a scratch. After all my hard work lunging and push-uping, he doesn't have to say anything to me. His actions say it all.
Fiona Warren - 17 years experience with large high-profile projects and teams.