"Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath. Every moment is the guru." -- Charlotte Joko Beck

Friday, April 1, 2016

It's Laugh at Work Week!

Every April 1st the world begins a week-long celebration of the importance of humor – Laugh at Work Week!

While some may sneer at the concept of levity at work, humor is actually a crucial element. Historically, one of the most respected members of the royal court was the court jester. They had no rank, yet were beyond reproach. Their official role was to use their wit to help diffuse tense situations at the royal court. In Medieval Europe, jesters were very involved with affairs of state. He was usually allowed to speak his mind freely, while everyone else had to wait for the monarch's permission to speak.

Often, the jester would use his chance at free speech to criticize the monarch openly, where no one else could. Thus, a function of the jester was to act as a critic, and many stories exist to support the fact that kings did indeed pay heed to the criticism of the court jester. The jester's ability to speak freely also came into play when tense matters were being discussed. Quite frequently the jester would diffuse heated discussions by inserting humorous statements, thereby avoiding any unnecessary confrontations.

Many leaders have recognized this important fact as well:  President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.

Share your stories about workplaces you've experienced where humor was prevalent -- or not. Over the next week, I'll be sharing several examples from both ends of the spectrum.

Meanwhile, enjoy the couple of jokes here. And while you’re yucking it up at work, if somebody gives you a dirty look, stick your tongue out and give them raspberries. Tell them you’re channeling great leaders, like Ike!