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Fun At Work Leads to More Success

Common sense at work: Such qualities as loyalty, energy, intelligence and hard work are certain to be in any consensus of what it takes to build a successful career.

"However, there's another essential ingredient that is too often overlooked," says Ramon Greenwood, senior career counselor at> "That is having fun on the job."

In fact, most of us are downright ambivalent when it comes to the subject of fun on the job and taking leisure time away from work. It is easy to argue both sides of the issue.

You've heard the axiom, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." Well, it is true.

A macho point of view has been the order of the day among some ambitious careerists. It expresses itself through a sort of masochistic drive to work more hours than the next fellow, never take a vacation and otherwise reject the idea that work can be fun.

Unfortunately, many companies pay only lip service to vacations and then impose a guilt trip on those who get away.

Jon Neulinger, author of The Psychology of Leisure states flatly, "Those not interested in doing anything but work are not likely to be CEOs."

He thinks most Americans do not spend enough time seeking leisure, which is more than just piddling away spare time.

Leisure Is A State Of Mind

True leisure, Neulinger says, is a state of mind. It comes about when a person engages in an activity that produces satisfaction, control and freedom. It is this state of mind that is so essential to the human psyche. It is what provides the regenerative, therapeutic quality of leisure.

Studies show that a sense of humor, in proper dosage, can boost creativity and productivity, as well as take the air out of tense situations.

According to Greenwood, it can help you land the job you want. One study revealed that 98 percent of over 700 chief executive officers interviewed preferred job candidates who have a sense of humor over those who don't.

A clinical psychiatrist at Stanford University has found that a good laugh raises the pulse and blood pressure and releases adrenaline into the system. The lungs expand and torso muscles expand and contract. After laughter, the blood pressure and heart rate return to normal. Laughter is said to be like jogging in place.

Leaders use humor to communicate goals and motivate their followers.

That's why the late Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, the giant retailer, was willing to put on a hula skirt and dance down Wall Street when Wal-Mart employees met a challenge he had laid down.

It is not necessary to be another Johnny Carson to provoke a rejuvenating laugh or enjoy a joke. Lighten up. Be willing to laugh at yourself. See and tolerate absurdities on the job. They do exist and they are not necessarily the end of the world.

Tommy May, CEO of Simmons First National Bank, who is an arch conservative in business matters, put humor to work to motivate workers in a United Way campaign by letting his chief competitor throw a chocolate pie in his face when the May-led team came in second in raising money.

Use humor carefully. Don't overdo it. Don't violate the rules of your workplace. Don't laugh at people; laugh with them.

Heed the wisdom of Mark Twain: "?the law of work?the higher the pay in enjoyment the worker gets out of it, the higher shall be his pay in money also."

It all comes down to the advice from one sage observer who said, "Get happiness out of your work or you may never know what happiness is."

Ramon Greenwood is former senior vice president of American Express; a professional director for various businesses; a consultant; a published author of career related books and a syndicated column. Senior career counselor for

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