Swing and miss. “Strike two,” cried the umpire. I threw one more pitch right at the player’s wrists. He swung hard, but the ball just dribbled right back to the pitcher’s mound. I picked it up and gently tossed it to the first baseman for the out.
As the batter turned back toward the dugout, his team captain stepped out and screamed, “Darrell, you’ve got to get over your fear of this guy!”
The words poured like sweet honey into my ears.
It was the third time I had gotten him out that night, including two strike outs. I had completely shut down the best hitter on the best team in the league. It was the most fun I’d had in weeks.
No, I wasn’t throwing heat. Quite the contrary, I’m talking about slow-pitch recreational softball for the older-than-age-30 crowd.
But, I was totally into it. Once a week, I stood on the mound under the lights with everyone’s eye on me. Despite the butterflies in my stomach, I can’t imagine anything more exciting (OK, maybe skydiving!).
And, I was totally motivated! I spent several hours each week tossing balls in my driveway. I set up an area with a pitcher’s rubber and home plate laid out to the exact dimensions of those on the playing field. After I mastered the two standard softball pitches, I developed two of my own. The best was a softball version of the knuckleball. A spinless ball that baffled batters the first time they saw it. But even when they did hit it, they could never get any distance on it.
I have friends who are obsessed with golf; others with tennis. None of them have a clue what drives me to play softball. But then again, I don’t get why they play golf or tennis.
What motivates me to play softball or, for that matter, my friends to play golf and tennis? That’s easy—it’s fun! It is all about having fun; pleasure is very motivating. We all seek some pleasure in life; it’s what keeps us going. And for those pursuits we enjoy, we are never too tired. We always seem to find time and energy for them. It comes to us easily. If only we could find that kind of relaxed energy for work.
What is it that you can’t wait to do everyday? Is it a hobby? A sport? Sigmund Freud described that driving creative spirit as the “Pleasure Principle.” But, he also spoke of a contrasting principle that existed to put the brakes on our desire, called the “Death Instinct.” Thankfully, that theory has been disproved; however, it’s still very true that “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” Not only dull—where happiness is absent, health is often absent, too.
I look forward to work every day. I have clearly followed the advice of my father who encouraged me to find a job I enjoyed, so that I would never “work” a day in my life. In her book Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood, Marsha Sinetar tells us to do the same thing. But, what should you do if you’re not happy in your work? Make changes! That may be easier said than done. So, if you can’t change your job, then change your work environment.
It’s a well known fact that employees who enjoy their work are more productive. This is so true that people frequently turn down better paying jobs to stay with one that is fun. There are many ways to make your workplace more fun. Authors Dave Hemsath and Leslie Yerkes in their book offer us 301 Ways to Have Fun at Work. Every company is different, so it will be up to you to discover what you can do to make your place of business more fun. But, if you want to motivate your staff, I always say, “Give them something to laugh about!”
Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is a motivational speaker and humorist. He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators. For more information on Wilson’s programs, please visit www.jumpstartyourmeeting.com.