There are days when I’m fed up with my job. Does it mean I don’t like it? Not necessarily. Do you like yogurt? And would you like to eat 5 cups of it every day? Sometimes we just have too many negative thoughts and feelings about the work we do and the environment we are in. Things that used to be neutral for us, start to be frustrating.
I received one piece of advice from my manager. He said that as a manager, there are so many things that are out of control and go wrong, that you need to pay more attention to seeing positive things.
I agree with it. Negative thoughts come to me automatically. I can make a full list of problems from the top of my head. Thinking about positive things requires more effort. It also needs a bigger perspective. We can see daily challenges, but it is easy to overlook how it changes the big-picture over the course of months or years. Especially if we consider the fatigue caused by all these challenges which make it harder to notice good signs.
We can use a metaphor of framing from photography. If we wanted to take a panoramic picture, there is a big chance there would be some unwanted elements in it. But we can also frame the picture to have a nice-looking one and include only what we want. We can focus on the main element and blur the background.
In the context of work: I can be so bogged down in details, frustrated with daily challenges like tests failing from time to time, or a long code-review time. What I may overlook for example is that I work in a company with a great vision, good relationships, and healthy culture. These daily challenges are the background that can be defocused.
Of course, too much framing can be destructive. We shouldn’t just ignore problems and accept everything. It is valuable to question the status quo to improve the situation. The main idea is that we don’t lose the essential parts from the view.
I am aware that this metaphor is not accurate. Not everything is black-and-white, and things are usually connected. For example, you may appreciate that you have the freedom to experiment, take initiative, and test out new ideas. That also means that it involves a lot of change and instability. But it’s not the main point. The biggest advantage for me is that it is pretty visual. That makes it easy to recall it during hard times.