The Boss Show

Workplace wisdom with heart and humor

June 6, 2012

The Business Case for Loony

By Steve Motenko

Are you or your co-workers afraid to have fun?

‘Cuz really … if it ain’t fun, what’s the point?  Who wants to be on their deathbed saying, “I was a really important person who did lots of really important things, and I never really had a very good time doing any of them, because that wouldn’t have been in keeping with the importance of the important work I was doing”?

Not me, that’s for sure.  I just wouldn’t use the word “important” five times in the same sentence — let alone lie about how many times I used the word “important” in a sentence. It’s just wrong.  But I digress.

I’ve got my fingers in a number of career pies. And I’m pretty consistently tossing each of those pies in someone’s face.  Like, for example:

  • My coaching clients:  If I detect a humor pulse in them at all, I tap into it until it becomes a gusher.  Yeah, I’m careful not to let humor overwhelm the work, but some of my clients and I bond around humor – it absolutely supports their developmental journeys.  The last thing one of my clients said to me as she left her session this week was, “I love your sense of humor.”  And then she fired me.  No, she didn’t.
  • The Boss Show:  I could absolutely not stand doing this show if I weren’t laughing through a good bit of it.  Podcasts with two brilliant people spouting brilliant insights in brilliantly dry ways bore me silly.  Add some absurdity to the mix, fer cryin’ out loud. Lighten up!  Anyone who thinks they need to be serious all the time to be respected has lost my respect.  Jim and I have important insights to share with you on the show.  And you’ll hear them better if the vehicle delivering those insights has clowns painted on the side.  (It’s a metaphor!  Stop being so literal.)
  • My sustainability work:  I’m Director of Operations for a sustainability education nonprofit.  There’s nothing more serious than the catastrophic state of our planet and the efforts to save the world.  And in doing this work, I love to say stupid things in emails, just to be stupidly stupid.  I find that fun.  And just about everyone – except the stupid stuffy stuff-shirts who can stuff their seriousness up their stuffing … what was I saying?  Oh, yeah – just about everyone says they like working with me because of how un-stuffy I am in my everyday emails.  As Sheryl Crow once confided to me, “All I want to do is have some fun.”
  • My leadership development work, with Boss Show co-host and biz partner Jim Hessler.  We share a brand of humor so irreverently outrageous that my wife has been known to take our impossibly inane email strings and share them with her entire building, just so she doesn’t feel totally alone when she pees her pants.
  • The choir I direct:  I’m so freaking passionate about the ineffable  beauty of music well performed that I’m constantly hounding my  community choir to refine the sound, shape the vowels, clean up the endings, explore the dynamic range, unify the phrasings.  These poor people just want to get together and sing, and I’m treating them like they’re the friggin’ Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  The saving grace for many of them is that I like to say lots of ridiculous things during choir rehearsals, and encourage them to be ridiculous back at me.

Now maybe you read all this and you’re saying, “This guy really isn’t that funny.”  And to you I say, screw you.  And then I say, “It’s not about being funny.  It’s about having fun.” We’re born to do it.  Claim your birthright, you boring people.  Get a life.

All of which brings me back once again to Rule #6.  Oh, go look it up.

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About the Author

Steve Motenko is an executive coach, leadership trainer, and co-host of The Boss Show, a weekly podcast on workplace dynamics. Steve and his Boss Show co-host, Jim Hessler, are co-authors of Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guide to Building Your Leadership Platform. Steve lives on Whidbey Island, Washington, with his wife and dog, whom he loves, and a cat he tolerates usually pretty well.

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