Interpersonal Edge: Make work your own adventure!

Dr. Daneen Skube

By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency

Q: I like to read adventure books where the heroes or heroines face big problems and overcome adversity. My ordinary work life by contrast seems mundane and boring. How can I find inspiration in my work life and overcome boredom so my work feels more adventurous?

A: While it is true ordinary work life can seem tedious, there are plenty of ways to create your own adventure story at work. Start by considering what scares you or what risks you’re avoiding. Then consider that even small adversities can give you an opportunity to be the hero or heroine you so admire in fiction.

When psychologists study highfunctioning adults they find three zones of performance. The first zone is when you’re bored, the second is when you have challenges but are not overwhelmed, and the third is when you’re overstretched. Turns out the Goldie locks story got it right about high functioning: not too cold, not too hot, but just the right amount of challenge.

In your adventure stories the hero or heroine may face insurmountable odds, but they usually receive magical assistance and use their wits to creatively problem solve. Most of us may not have access to a fairy godmother, but we do have the benefit of our wits to rely upon.

I promise your mundane job will throw multiple problems at you that do not look exciting. What is exciting is your ability to keep looking at the problem as if it’s your personal Rubik’s Cube. If you do not have interesting enough problems to challenge you, then look at areas at work that scare you and explore them.

Every problem presents us with our own hero’s journey. We have to stop looking at the problem through the same set of eyes. We have to change not the problem, but ourselves to find a solution. Isn’t this what happens in every adventure story?

Most heroes start as nobody special. Take Harry Potter. But, inside of Harry is a unique perspective that ends up conquering even the darkest aspects of our humanity. Today you might believe you too are nobody special. However, if you look at each problem, no matter how insignificant, as a key to unlock your unique magic, you take the first step of writing your own adventure.

Consider the word imagination. It suggests two words: both “I” and “mage” or “magic.” According to most dictionaries, a mage is someone who “has the ability to attain objectives or acquire knowledge or wisdom by using supernatural means.” Supernatural simply suggests something beyond the mundane or ordinary.

If indeed your imagination or creativity can use each ordinary problem at work as a key for you to attain your objectives or acquire knowledge or wisdom then we might suggest your new habit meets the definition of one that has magic!

On Monday what may change is not that your ordinary job is suddenly bursting with secret mysteries. What may change is that you see how much about your ordinary life was inviting you on your own adventure all along.

Many of us find a rollicking good story of a hero who overcomes the odds mesmerizing and inspirational. What we may previously have failed to notice is the most relevant story unfolds every day in our own lives. Pick up that book and I promise you’ll never be bored again!

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.