Are you “Working for the Weekend?” The Patterns in Language of Work, Job and Play

Whether you are a future cubicle escapee longing for satisfying work or corporate refugeehaving been displaced by downsizing, right sizing or some other means of being severed from a corporate career – you have used the pattern language of work.  Its meaning can be different to different people.

When I talk to people about work, some of the patterns in language emerge.  When ‘work’ does not allow us to use our talents and or is not aligned with our values, some of the patterns I have observed are:

Pattern Language of Work

Ball and chain
Can’t wait until 5:00 pm
TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday)
Working for the Weekend
It’s hard
It sucks
Marking Time
I need a vacation
Low energy

There are many more words and phrases. These are just a few.

We use the word ‘work’ when we talk about school – for example ‘home-work.’  When you need to do something, you have to ‘work’ on it.  When you look at a project, you might say, “That’s a lot of work.”

Words create your world.  When people talk about work their energy tends to drop, and their facial expressions show a variety of things, but it often does not contain a smile.  In many cases the feeling or mood is one of dis-empowerment.

However, when what we do to earn a living is aligned with our values and allows us to do what we do best every day, the patterns in language are different.

In Janine Moon’s book “Career Ownership: Creating ‘Job Security’ in Any Economy” she states: “Throughout the book I consciously use the word “work” rather than job.  “Job” signifies some level of responsibility that you step into and out of during certain hours and under certain conditions.  “Work” is something you do because it’s your contribution, it’s an expression of your talents, and it’s your heart and soul.  Your work is distinctly you and the contribution only you can make to your organization’s mission.”

I love this pattern in language of using ‘work’ versus ‘job.’

Sam Waterston, the actor that played district attorney on the series Law and Order stated about his work, “It isn’t work; it is just long hours of fun.”  I found this statement to be very profound.  It falls in the pattern language of play.  What if the way you earned a living wasn’t work, but just long hours of fun? What would change in your life?  Who would you become? For most people, they cannot even imagine work as being long hours of fun.

Some of the patterns in language that emerge for play that I have observed:

Pattern Language of Play

Can’t wait
Want to
Time flies when you are having fun
Looking forward to
High Energy

When you listen to people talking about how they earn a living – what patterns in language do you notice?

It can tell you a lot about how well aligned their talents and values are aligned with how they earn a living.

I watched a Ted Talks video by Stuart Brown entitled “Play is More Than Fun.”  What stuck in my mind the most was a statement he made: “The opposite of Play is not Work.  The opposite of Play is Depression.” For me this explained a lot about why Gallup researchshows that 71% of people feel disengaged from work. We need more fun and the spirit of play in our work to be engaged. We need to be able to express our talents and true self more at work, which is naturally more satisfying and fun.  It makes us come alive.  But old industrial outdated mindsets about managing people, and how ‘work’ gets done sometimes create obstacles to allowing people to do this in a corporate setting.

What patterns in language do you notice when you talk about what you do to earn a living? Are the patterns in language of Work?  Or patterns in language of Play? The patterns in language are a tell tale sign of how we feel about how we earn a living.  How do we get from wanting to be a cubicle escapee to having long hours of fun at work?

I believe that the heart of it is understanding ourselves, knowing and understanding our talents, being able to articulate those talents to the people and organizations or clients that need them.  This could mean that we become a soul-o-preneur and offer our talents on a fee paid basis like a consultant, working in a new position, creating a new position by building a business case for it, or working for a different company that is a much better match to our talents, values, and preferred work environment.

We need to find our best work.  It may not be a perfect match, but given the market, our personal financial situations, it is our best work. Our best work will continue to evolve as we do.  Would you like to know how to do that?  One way is through the discipline of Career Ownership. You can learn more by taking the Your Best Work, Find It, Love It, Live It telecourse.

And finally, I will end with a quote that was recently shared with me (Thanks Janine Moon!) that I found inspiring.   “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  -Dr. Howard Thurman


Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that.  Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Love it, Live It telecourse.

Don’t Respond to Feedback Like a Bunch of Baboons

I was just reading “See New Now” by Jerry de Jaager and Jim Ericson.  They have a chapter entitled The “Baboon Reflex.”  The subtitle is “Fear makes animals and people do unproductive things.” They go on to recount a story about baboon behavior, how something happens in their brain when they are hunting together, and somehow one of them always screws up the hunt.

Now, I know you have never worked with a bunch of baboons that screw up like this, right?  (Oh…Maybe?)  Fear, worry and bad feelings shut down our HOTS (higher order thinking skills). It shuts down creativity too. This is why you always have a great comeback three hours later – after you have had time to calm down and get to a good-feeling place again where your HOTS are intact.

What does this have to do with responding to feedback?

I’m convinced that responding to solicited feedback is an advanced communication skill.  I say advanced because it seems to be lacking in the basic skill set of many managers and leaders.  Lacking advanced communication skills can hamper great results, and can contribute to employee turnover.

In the book “First Break All the Rules” by Marcus Buckingham, he states that people joingreat companies but leave bad managers.  One of the many qualities of good managers is that they create an environment that keeps everyone using their HOTS.  They foster a safe environment where making mistakes is considered a part of learning and innovating. They make it clear it is okay to disagree and encourage discussions on differing viewpoints. They LISTEN.  They create trust because it is a SAFE environment for employees to provide feedback.

How do you become a manager that fosters an environment where your employees are in the HOTS most of the time?  There are so many ways and more blog articles to come.  But let’s start with something simple.  When you ask for feedback, make it safe for employees to give feedback.

In one experience I had, a manager e-mailed the department asking them, “How do you create an environment that fosters creativity and feedback?”   I didn’t know the manager very well, so I sent some simple ideas that would help create a safe environment.  He almost immediately responded with a critique, “that is too simplistic.”

The irony here is this: He wants to create an environment that fosters creativity and feedback, and he just guaranteed he would receive no more from me.  Why? His response taught me that if I provide feedback, he would immediately critique it.  I decided that next time he asks for feedback, I will pass.

If you solicit feedback, here are some tips on responding to feedback, so as to encourage a safe environment to receive it again.

  1. Think of feedback like receiving a gift. Like any gift, you don’t accept the gift andhsay, “this sucks.”  Can you imagine howyou would feel?  If you ask for feedback, giving it is usually optional, isn’t it?  Begin by considering feedback a gift.  When you receive a gift, you don’t tell the gifter, “this sucks because… (whatever).”   When you criticize solicited feedback that is exactly what you are doing.
  2. Respond with “thank you.”  Nobody has to give feedback.  In fact, it is easier just toRespond to Feedback With Thank You

    ignore a request for feedback.  It is less work.  But when someone does take the time to provide feedback, just like a gift, a proper response is “thank you.”  Or, “thank you for the feedback.”  Or, “I appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback.”  You get the idea.

  3. Stay curious.  Perhaps the feedback wasn’t exactly the type of feedback you were looking for.  Stay curious.  Respond with, “Thank you for your feedback.  Would you mind expanding on that and telling me a little more?  Navigating via curiosity is a coaching proficiency that brings great results.
  4. Use non-judgmental awareness.  This means that you remain charge-neutral, do not judge, don’t not try to ‘fix’ but stay curious and explore further if you want more. The ability of the mind to observe without adding layers of bias, criticism and unnecessary analysis make the awareness non-judgmental.  An example might be of watching a fish swim in an aquarium. You don’t know where it is going to swim to next and you just simply observe its motion flowing effortlessly through the water.  There are no projections of what will happen in the future because you are only observing what is happening now and nothing else.
  5. Avoid defending.  There is nothing worse than providing solicited feedback and then listening to the manager give a defense monologue.  It might start something like, “We have this because…” or “We do this because…” If you want to make a person feel unheard and unvalued, this is the way to do it. It virtually guarantees they will choose not to provide feedback again.  Create a safe space by making them feel heard by simply thanking them for the feedback.
  6. Confirm what you heard. Be sure you understand them correctly.  If a person is providing feedback about why something isn’t working for them, respond with “Just to confirm my understanding, the system does this when you try to _____________.”

Thinking of feedback like a gift, and thanking a person for their solicited feedback will contribute to creating a safe environment to provide more in the future. Stay curious and use non-judgmental awareness.  Do not defend anything when receiving feedback, but make sure you understand and confirm what was said.  Keeping these things in mind creates an environment where people can stay in their HOTS, where the gift of feedback can be fostered and used for developing continuous positive change, trust and innovation.


Want to go from stressed out to streamlined?  Wishing you could spend more time actually doing the work you love?  Mia Turpel’s know-how as a business and career coach, speaker, project manager and trainer will help you do just that.  Discover how to find Your Best Work in the Your Best Work, Find It, Live It, Love it Telecourse.

Work is for Joy

I grew up with the idea that you go to school, study, get good grades, and you get a good job, and go to work from 8 to 5.  This is a framework that I adopted from my environment – which included my parents, my family, my school, my friends, and my culture in general.

Work was something that you did, but play was for after work.  Work, by definition, was something you didn’t necessarily love, but was accepted as part of life unless you won the lottery or inherited lots of money.  It was great if you could love your work, but, that wasn’t really expected.  And, you worked hard all of your life and put away money so you could have a heyday when you retired at 65.

This belief came from the society I grew up in, the schools that I attended and my family.  I adopted it – rather unconsciously.  The only way to earn income was to pimp your knowledge and skills by becoming employed.  Which was fine, except when it felt like your soul was being sucked out or your unique contributions and creativity were being squashed into this little box.

Freedom 2Thomas Leonard, considered the father of coaching, teaches a concept called frameworks.  One of the frameworks is “Work is For Joy.”  For me, this is an intriguing and attractive idea.  It is “outside of the box” of my existing framework.  The idea that your greatest gift to the world was an extension of what came easily to you, was uniquely you, was fun for you, and used your greatest talents every day was invigorating.  “Work” instead of a drudgery, was your unique contribution to the world – a contribution that the world needs.

This is a real shift for many people – adopting the idea that Work Is For Joy.  They can’t imagine what it could be like – which is precisely why they may not achieve it.

The 8 to 5 working concept is a comfortable concept – like ‘the devil you know.’ It means life is ‘on hold’ until the weekend, or until you retire, when you finally start living and enjoying life.

I grew up with a belief that this concept provides security.  Quitting a job that paid well, even if it crushed your soul, was not the smart responsible thing to do.  Pursuing your own dream, your own joy, was okay as long as you did the safe thing, the responsible thing, and still held your life sucking secure job.

I challenge that belief. You should too.  So does Timothy Ferris.  He is the author of the book “The Four Hour Work Week.”  He encourages a concept called ‘mini retirements.’ Like all people who challenge beliefs, some people might read his book and call it ‘heresy.’  I say, be a heretic!  So does Seth Godin in his book “Tribes.”

To quote Seth Godin“Heretics are the new leaders, the ones who challenge the status quo. Who get out in front of their tribes, who create movements. The marketplace now rewards and embraces the heretics … and for the first time it’s profitable, powerful, and productive. This shift might be bigger than you think. Suddenly, heretics, troublemakers and change agents aren’t merely thorns in our side they are the keys to our success.”

Try this idea on for size.  Wear it for a while, see how it fits.  Is your life on hold until retirement?

Life is a journey – in the present moment. The nature of a journey is that each juicy moment is to be lived to the fullest.  For example, you wouldn’t plan a vacation, but decide before leaving that you might as well not go just so you can return sooner. That is silliness.  The whole point of the vacation is to enjoy the journey.  Can you transfer this concept to the work area of your life?

Questions for thought:

What are your frameworks and beliefs around work and life?

  • What did your parents teach you about school, and about work?
  • What did society teach you about school and about work?
  • What are your beliefs around security?
  • What are your beliefs around the concept “Work is for Joy?”
  • Are you moving away from what you don’t want (i.e. lack of security– or are you moving toward what you do want (i.e. your dream of pursuing work that you love)?

How would your life change if you lived the framework, Work is for Joy?

“It isn’t work, it is just long hours of fun.” – Sam Waterson, Actor, speaking on his work playing a District Attorney on Law and Order.


Mia Turpel is life, career and business coach.  She takes you from stressed out to STREAMLINED in your life, career or business so that you can spend more time on the things you love.  Interested in more?  Be sure to sign up for STREAMLINED ezine for news and information on these topics and more!  Interested in coaching? Click here to sign up for a complimentary 30 exploratory session – you will be sure to go away with insights about your big game in life.

Do or Do Not – There Is No Try – Mastering Your Success Mindset

I love Star Wars.  Not only for the story, but for the ideas about beliefs and mindsets.  One of my favorite scenes was when Yoda was coaching Luke in the use of The Force in the swamp.  While levitating rocks and other exercises, the X Wing fighter sinks into the bog causing Luke to become distracted, dropping the rocks and Yoda abruptly onto the ground. The scene went as follows:

Luke Skywalker: “We will never get it out now.”

Yoda: Yoda: “So certain are you?  <sigh>  Always with you, it cannot be done.  Hear you nothing that I say?”

Luke Skywalker: “Master, Moving stones around is one thing, this is totally different!”

Yoda: “No!  No different!  Only different in your mind.  You must Unlearn what you have learned.”

Luke Skywalker: “Alright, I’ll give it a try.”

Yoda: “NO! Try not!  Do!  Or do not.  There is no try.”

Part of mastering a success mindset is to have awareness of your beliefs.  Sometimes this can be difficult to ascertain on your own.  A coach is trained to help you become aware of your own beliefs – whether they are supporting or hampering your progress toward your goals.  Greater awareness usually leads to better decisions.

I think that Yoda was a master coach.  What belief did he uncover that Luke Skywalker had about his own ability to use the force?

He uncovered Luke’s belief that his ability to successfully use The Force to move objects was related to their size.  Hence, he believed that the size of the X Wing fighter was too great a match for his current mastery of The Force to extract it from the bog.  Therefore, because he believed it, it become true for him.

This also reminds me of a book by Richard Bach –  Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.  In the book, one of the messages was “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.”  What limitations was Luke arguing for?  Yoda pointed out that the difference between moving stones and moving something bigger was only in his mind.  Yoda wanted him to choose a new belief…one that supported his goal of mastery.

Luke says something that I have heard many times before (including from myself!), “Alright, I’ll give it a try.”  Pay attention to this language.  What is Luke committed to?  What is the language of commitment: “I’ll Try” or “I will do it”?    When you say “I’ll try,” what do you really mean?  Yoda points this out when he says “NO! Try not! Do! Or do not.  There is no try.”

Luke makes a failed attempt at raising the X-Wing fighter out of the bog.  “I can’t! It’s too big” he says exhausted.  Yoda gives him a pep talk.  Luke says “You want the impossible.”  Then, as a demonstration to Luke, Yoda successfully raises the X Wing fighter out of the bog, to Luke’s utter amazement.

Luke Skywalker:  “I don’t believe it!”

Yoda: “That <pause> is why you failed.”

Ah ha!  There’s that belief again.  Yoda makes Luke aware that the very reason he failed was because he didn’t believe it could be done.

What do you believe cannot be done?  Think about your own life, career and business goals.  What limitations are you arguing for?  Could it be that you don’t have time?  You don’t have the right degree?  You don’t have enough money?  What is it?

Is there something you want to do, but haven’t, in your life career or business?  What kind of belief do you have that is hindering your movement towards what you want?  How will you examine these beliefs?

The more awareness you have about what you want in life and the intertwined beliefs that are supporting you or limiting you, the faster the path toward them is cleared. A coach can help you reach those ‘ah ha’ moments that shine light on the path to your next best step, and in mastering your success mindset!

Mia Turpel is life, career and business coach.  She takes you from stressed out to STREAMLINED in your life, career or business so that you can spend more time on the things you love.  Interested in more?  Be sure to sign up for STREAMLINED ezine for news and information on these topics and more!  Interested in coaching? Click here to sign up for a complimentary 30 exploratory session – you will be sure to go away with insights about your big game in life.

It’s Policy, Committed Sardines, and Small Groups That Make Big Change

Does it burn you as much as it burns me when you hear the words “It’s policy” when it is an obstacle to progress, improvement, efficiency and more? Come on! Even if it is BAD policy? Even if it is counterproductive to everything you know? Even if it doesn’t support your current business direction?

Here is what I know about policy: People make policy.

It is possible that the person that made the policy made it for a very good reason at the time. It is possible that business processes, directives, and the business climate has changed since that person made the policy. It is possible that the reason that policy is still in place is because nobody challenged it. Nobody asked, “who made the policy?” Does anyone regularly ask, “how is this policy serving us now?” Is it possible that the reason why it is still policy is because there is a lot of sheepwalking (a term I adopted from Seth Godin) going on? Perhaps people have been conditioned to just accept the status quo when they are told “it’s policy.”

TTWWADI – The Big Rut

Ever heard of TTWWADI? It’s an acronym for “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” TTWWADI is a big rut. Policy that serves as an obstacle to achieving business goals very often is a TTWADI rut. It is easy to get stuck in the rut because most of us want to do the right thing, and follow the policy we have been taught. Questioning policy can often put us on a radar screen that we weren’t on before, shining a very uncomfortable light. However, if we don’t question policy, what is it costing us?

One of my favorite quotes is from General Eric Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff, U. S. Army. He said, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” So, you think change is hard? What about being left in the dust? What happens when your most talented people constantly bump up against ‘policy’ that doesn’t allow them to use their greatest talents on the job? It tends to become motivation to leave.

Policy is meant to be a guideline for streamlining, not an obstacle. Guidelines by their very nature have variations and exceptions. I recently watched an episode of a television hospital drama series where a patient had been bitten by a raccoon that was discovered to have rabies. No worries. Yes, rabies causes certain death. But, there is a vaccine – if administered before symptoms appeared!

The bad news was that the hospital was out of the vaccine, and had to find another source. While they found a source, ‘They’ had a “policy” to not release the vaccine without written permission from the patient. Knowing that the patient in her current condition could not be present to give that permission, the nurse, in exasperation cried, “Of course the patient gives her permission because she will DIE without it!” Yet, they still insisted that it was policy to have written permission from the patient and would not release the vaccine.

While this was fiction (at least I hope!), I can say I have experienced corporate ‘policy’ that was just as much an obstacle to achieving the stated goals of the business. And what astonishes me even more, is how many people followed that policy, agreed that it was an obstacle, and yet still followed it without question.

Does it remind you of the Authority song by John Mellencamp? ( I know you have danced to it!) Does this ring a bell? “I fight authority, authority always wins.” Maybe you need to be a committed sardine.

Pause for effect.

“A committed sardine?” you question. Okay, let me explain. I recently found a website dedicated to excellence in education whose domain name is “The Committed Sardine.” I liked it, so I adopted the term as part of my vernacular. That’s how I roll. Anyway, it references the fact that blue whales being one of the largest mammals on earth can sometimes take two to three minutes to make a 180 degree turn, while schools of fish – sardines for instance, that are just as large as a Blue Whale if not larger, can make a 180 degree turn almost instantaneously (or so it seems).

How do they do this? If you look close, you’ll notice that although the fish all appear to be swimming in the same direction, in reality at any time there will be a small group of sardines swimming in a different direction, against the flow, against conventional wisdom. It rattles the cage a bit and causes discomfort for the rest of the school.

But finally, when a critical mass of truly committed sardines is reached – not as large as what you might think, only 15 to 20 percent who are truly committed to a new direction, the rest of the school suddenly turns and goes with them – almost instantaneously!

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a committed sardine. Are you compelled to question policy when it is an obstacle to doing More Great Work? People make policy. You could be one of those People that also change policy. Or, at least, you could be a catalyst for change.

I close with this quote widely attributed to Margaret Mead. It is a reminder of how powerful one or a small group of people can be: “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world -indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

I, for one, believe this is true.

Mia Turpel is life, career and business coach.  She takes you from stressed out to STREAMLINED in your life, career or business so that you can spend more time on the things you love.  Interested in more?  Be sure to sign up for STREAMLINED ezine for news and information on these topics and more!  Interested in coaching? Click here to sign up for a complimentary 30 minute exploratory session – you will be sure to go away with insights about your big game in life.

Coaching Women in Business – Making It Easy

“Business is easy,” she said.

I once worked at a satellite location of a large privately-owned printing company.  The owner was a wonderful business woman.  I was just starting out in the business world, and I admired her accomplishments.

She said, “Business is easy: You meet the customer, quote the price, print the job, and invoice them.  They pay the invoice, and the cycle starts again.”

I wondered how it was that she could have described it as easy.  Now that I have been in business for quite some time, it is apparent to me there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes.

But I loved her perspective.  I wonder how much having that perspective could change the lives of women in business today?

Just what is it that makes business seem easy?  One way to answer that question is by asking another question: “What makes life easy?”  Since business and life are intermingled, the principles that make business easy are the same ones that make life easy.

Life becomes easy when you:

  • use your inborn strengths and talents every day.
  • enjoy relationships with friends and family that are fun and energizing.
  • have a network of supportive people around you.
  • feel healthy, well and strong.
  • connect regularly with nature by spending time enjoying a pet, walking on a beach, or just getting outside on a beautiful day.
  • sustain a sense of spirituality and oneness with the world and consciously choose beliefs that support your goals.
  • have a living space and office that you enjoy.
  • can easily pay your bills and still have financial reserves.
  • focus on moving toward something you want as opposed to moving away from something you don’t want.

Do you want to find out how you can change your life by changing your perspective?  You can learn how to apply these principles –and more – and finally be able to say, “Business is easy.”

This blog is about how to help you go from stressed out to STREAMLINED in your business so that you can spend more time on the things you love.  Interested in more?  Be sure to sign up for STREAMLINED ezine at for news and information on these topics and more!  Interested in coaching? Click here to sign up for a complimentary 30 minute exploratory sample session.