Dixie Darr

In work on January 9, 2007 at 8:14 am

Work is Not a Four-Letter Word

“Insist on joy in spite of everything.” Tom Robbins

Steve Erwin, the crocodile hunter, was clearly a man who loved his work. I saw a video of him over the weekend which was taken just hours before he died. He was excited and exuberant and filled with joy. That’s the way I want to work, and ideally, the way I want to die.

The best way to enjoy your work is to work at something that you are very good at, because most of us really like showing our stuff. We are also usually interested in becoming better, becoming the BEST at something. The next step is to treat work like play.

In the book, Work Like Your Dog, authors Matt Weinstein and Luke Barber describe the “work” (running) of their dog, Blue. She leaps in excitement in anticipation of going for her daily run. She finds time to chase squirrels, sniff at children and even take a dip in the lake during her run. We can emulate her by fitting rewards into our workday. For me that would be reading, taking a walk, working on a collage, surfing the internet or playing spider solitaire.

Even better is turning our work itself into a game. Today, I have papers to grade, not my favorite part of my teaching job. I could make it more fun by getting some gold stickers to reward my students when they do something right, instead of focusing on their mistakes. Even though my students are adults, I think they would like getting a gold star.

Last week in one of my classes, a student asked if I couldn’t change their final project because “this is a fun class, but that isn’t a fun assignment.” I agreed with her. Now, instead of writing a research paper and doing a boring PowerPoint presentation (and trust me, most of them are boring) on cultural diversity, they are developing games to teach the concepts of diversity to one another. The bonus in this assignment is that their games will be something they can actually use on the job or with their families. I’m looking forward to seeing what they will come up with.

In their final class before graduation, they get to do their happy dances and give standing ovations to one another.

I have always thought learning was the most fun thing in the world and tried to find ways to make the classroom fun. Weinstein and Barber are giving me renewed energy to have more fun and fresh ideas for making that happen.

©2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

  1. Yea for you! I’ve long been an advocate of the “instill joy into every day” philosophy so it’s nice to see another entrepreneur singing its praises! Of course, I shun the words of “work,” “labor” (unless I’m about to give birth), “occupation” (you mean I’d have to pick just one?” and “job” altogether in favor of “the daily joyful pursuit of one’s passion.” What do you think?

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