I don't see it, hear it or read it anymore. In fact, the F word has literally disappeared overnight from the American vocabulary. Oh sure, some irate Manhattan cab driver will still employ it. A PR executive who's just been told his agency's 2009 budget has been yanked is likely to let loose. And, we Jets fans certainly call upon it on most Sundays.
But, that's not the F word to which I'm referring. You see, I'm speaking of an F word that's barely registering a pulse these days: "Fun."
Fun is gone. It's vanished, and it's bordering on becoming extinct. In its place, we've seen the sudden emergence of fun's evil twin: "Fear."
Kathryn Williams, the "W" in KRW, a top leadership/coaching firm who participated in our webinar last week, stressed the urgency of fun. She said the best leaders, the ones who will become heroes in this current economic cataclysm, are the ones who will take care of themselves first and then "administer aid" to their employees. She likened it to the airplane instructions in which adults are advised to don their own oxygen masks before applying their children's.
That makes perfect sense. I see too many executives walking around with a hangdog look on their face. Their expressions and non-verbals say it all. They're scared. They're paralyzed. They've never seen anything like the current economic climate. Well, guess what? They unknowingly project those feelings to those around them and, soon, very soon, an entire organization becomes paralyzed.
And, paralysis is a one-way ticket to business oblivion.
Heroes find a way to rise above the fray. They take time to laugh in the face of fear. They bring the other F word back to its rightful place.
So, cut your costs. Find your new revenue streams. But, don't forget about having fun, too. Williams suggests leaders find the time for neck and back massages, meditation or other forms of relaxation. Personally, I opt for a mix of stand-up comedy, long-distance running and any sort of historical/biographical/comedic reading material.
I also go out of my way to inject humor in the workplace, whether it's through hallway banter or an e-mail comment purposely designed to elicit a chuckle. I told one of our senior directors that I see myself in the Bob Hope role at Peppercom, responsible for raising troop morale.
You can do it, too. And you should. So, check the doom-and-gloom at the reception desk when you arrive each morning. We'll get through this. And people will remember whether you led the way with cheery optimism or buried yourself in your office with a bunker-like mentality.