Typically, when one says that we should have a “can-do” attitude, s/he is talking about a mindset oriented towards possibilities. It is an optimism that one can do whatever s/he sets their mind to.
The shadow side of this mindset is that we run the risk of burnout: If we go beyond healthy optimism and are no longer grounded in reality, then we think we can do more than we actually can. We may take on too much.
A healthy can-do attitude honors limitations. It realistically establishes the place from where we are starting in order to get a sense of how far we can go, AND it has us saying that, at the end of the day, we can only do what we can do.
There has been more and more business literature coming out that speaks to the idea of meaningful work as being an aspect of what defines a great leader: How is our work fulfilling and contributing to our sense of who we are?
Part of that inquiry involves acknowledging that today’s worker is a multidimensional being: Whereas the Industrial Age worker was a physical resource that could be worked to a certain point and then expended, the Digital Age worker (and their employer) is concerned with their long-term well-being and how that impacts their quality of work. Two resources I’ve especially appreciated that speak to this are Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz’s The Power of Full Engagement and Tom Rath and Jim Harter’s Well-Being .
Some folks say that there are four dimensions or elements to well-being, some five. Here is my take on the five dimensions of Being:
Physical: How am I taking care of my body? What is my nutritional plan? What is my exercise regimen? There’s plenty of research out there connecting how taking at least 30 minutes of physical activity contributes to more productivity at work.
Mental: What thought patterns do we have about ourselves and our work? What beliefs inform what we do? Do we experience ourselves as effective or as a failure? Our mental models of the world shape how we experience our work.
Emotional: As much as we might not be willing to admit it, our emotional state impacts how we interact in the workplace. How are we tending to the matters of our heart? How are we making room for more joy, peace, and fulfillment? How are we truly holding sadness, anger, and stress?
Spiritual: People, especially here in the U.S., get all wonky about any mention of the spiritual in the workplace. Yet, our sense of fulfillment and meaning in life and at work are connected to how we relate to our deeply-held values. How does our most-cherished life principles relate to our work? How are we regularly connecting at work with something larger than ourselves?
Social: Most people don’t consider the social as a dimension of Self. And yet, I would argue that part of what makes work fulfilling and what makes us effective leaders are the relationships we have with others.
Which of the above five dimensions of being do you feel could be improved? Choose the one that would make the biggest difference in your life right now, and come up with one specific step you could take today to make progress on it.