Written by:

Holly Macdonald


July 8, 2010

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It’s approximately day 8 of summer vacation and my youngest has already uttered the words that every self-employed mother who is working at her computer during a heat wave dreads to hear.  “I’m boooooorrrred”.  Cue eye rolling from mom.  I list off a bunch of options that of course don’t seem to be of any interest what-so-freaking-ever.  She’s 8.  I tell her to use her imagination and just figure it out because mommy is working!

I remember the same feeling pretty vividly.  I’m sure many of us can.  June makes us squirmy and we can’t wait to be free from the shackles of structure and timetables.  Until we discover that the grass is not greener, it just looks that way through those darned rose coloured glasses that we’ve been wearing.  Suddenly, you’ve got hours, days, weeks to fill.

The point of this post, you are wondering?  I wonder if many of the HR/Learning challenges that we face are because we all grew up in an education system where we were structured and dreamt of unfettered time, only to discover we didn’t know how to be self-directed. Although you’d think after 12 years of this cycle we might have learned a thing or two.

Here’s a suggestion: Put up a sign in your office that says:

Hey, remember during summer vacation when you would say “I’m bored” and your mom would say “…just figure it out”?  Guess what.  Your mom called.

Then at the end of the summer, pull everyone together for a meeting and ask them to talk about what challenges they had and how they figured it out.  Who knows, maybe you’ll have created a culture of self-directedness that could last beyond the summer.  However, if your employees related too much to the “bored” part of your poster, you’ve got bigger problems, my friend.