Oh good, it’s Monday.

Another chance to try my hand at that important problem we are trying to solve.

An opportunity to interact with our customers and bring a bit of joy into their lives.

A chance to see my co-workers, people I like and respect who treat me with kindness and generosity.

A day in which I will learn something, challenge myself, dance on the edge.

A day to commit to do some thing, even just one, that matters.

This isn’t what people normally think. Most of us don’t like our jobs.

On countless elevators I hear people greet each other with a knowing “it’s almost Friday” followed by a nod and a smile. Yet counting days until the temporary, illusory break of the weekend is no way to live.

It’s true, sometimes we get stuck. It’s happened to all of us: we find ourselves in the wrong place, in the wrong job, with the wrong people, and each day can be difficult.

But nowadays there are so many ways to learn something new, so many ways to connect with people who care about the same things we do, that there’s no reason to let ourselves slip into dividing our lives between the suffering of the week and the temporary respite of the weekend.

At a minimum, if you do feel stuck, don’t use your weekends just to “do nothing” because you believe you need that break before the week hits you again. Use the time that is fully yours to put a bit of energy towards something meaningful, something that brings a bit of a spark back into your day, something that’s a step towards the next thing.

Each day is your chance to do so much more than count the minutes until it’s over.

Because one day it will be, and that’s a game you don’t actually want to win.

Eradicating the two-handed forehand

Last weekend I was playing tennis with my son.

To get a little more oomph on the ball, he has been hitting his forehand with two hands.  He’s definitely big enough now to hit it one-handed, so I decided to try to change the habit.

Me:                        Try hitting with one hand!

(thwack!!)             (two handed forehand)

Me:                        That’s great!  Remember, one handed!

(thwack!!!)            (two handed)

Me:                        Good job!

(thwack!!)            (two handed)

Me:                       Excellent.  Let’s try it with one hand now…

(thwack!!)            (yes, two handed again).


So, I tried another tactic.

Me:                        Let’s play a game.  You get one point for connecting with the ball, two points for hitting it over the net with two hands, and four points for hitting it over the net with one hand.

(thwack, thwack, thwack, thwack)           (ALL with one hand).


Kids are just kids, right?  That’s why this works, because they love simple, arbitrary games like this….  Something like “getting more points” for doing something would never motivate an adult.

Maybe, maybe not.

Too often we attack a problem or a behavior that we want to change (in ourselves, in someone else) by taking it head on.  This gets us there intellectually but not emotionally, which is why we so often fall short on making the changes we want to make.  We overestimate the capacity of our logical, deductive mind to influence behavior, based on a belief system that says that our logical, deductive mind is in charge – when it really isn’t.

One other observation.  While playing with my son, I started giving out “bonus” points for all sorts of things – long rallies, backhands, great gets, you name it.  But even with this good intention in mind, I would occasionally hold myself back in giving out these points – based on a vague notion of being “fair” and playing by the established rules.

Talk about crazy: being stingy in giving out made-up points in a made-up game, because I wanted to be fair.

It’s almost never the wrong time to be more liberal in giving out praise, rewards, acknowledgments that people value.  Yet somehow we hold back, keeping great words of encouragement to ourselves.

And so the two-handed forehands – the crutches people rely upon because they don’t know how good, strong, and capable they really are – persist.