Thursday, October 16, 2008

Variety or Familiarity?

One of the things I wanted most when I left my NHS career four years ago was more variety in my work.

This week has been a pretty varied week.

  • Sunday evening drove up to Newcastle to prepare for all day Monday session when I was one of 11 facilitators at an event run by the Department of Health.

  • Monday evening drove back to Birmingham for a meeting at 7.30 pm

  • Tuesday drove to Birmingham to perform a couple of drama sketches with Annie at a national conference on out of hours emergency medical care. This was followed by delivering three consecutive 45 minute workshops on team development to a total of 60 of the delegates attending the conference

  • Wednesday drove up to Liverpool to deliver a workshop to GP front line staff on Exceptional Customer Care

  • Thursday was a day in Leicester working in a healthcare organisation assisting them to develop a new communications and engagement strategy.

That’s well over a thousand miles on the road; 5 completely different ‘jobs’ in five days; for five completely different clients.

Though it is not usually QUITE as varied as this, the above schedule is not an unusual spread of activity in a typical week for me. I simply couldn’t stand working in a job nowadays with a rigid job description that restricts my personal horizons. Anyone can make more of a job that has limited scope on paper, by attitude of mind but I just love the real variety I’ve discovered.

Many people like to have predictability about what they are doing week on week, month on month and year on year. That is perfectly fine - I have no problem with that choice if it suits the person. I personally prefer the element of surprise and ‘difference’ in the range of things I do.

Apart from anything else I believe that by creating lots of options, possibilities and outlets for experience, knowledge and skills I might just have a better chance of finding something when the chips are down than if I stick to the stuff I just feel comfortable with.

Please note I am NOT suggesting this as a prescription for anyone – just that it definitely suits my personality and style. I would love your views on variety versus familiarity.


Joel D Canfield said...

I would go nuts if I did the same thing all day, every day. Best Beloved is the same way. Her business is thriving because she loves doing every type of administrative task imaginable (and some unimaginable ones.)

It is, though, a personality thing. I know folks who do the same thing all day every day (a friend is a chemist who analyzes soil samples. All day. Same job, same equipment.) They're not unintelligent boring people just because they do that kind of work. (Not saying you thought that, Trevor; admitting my own prejudices.)

I do indeed suffer a lot from 'Be Like Me' but I continue to enjoy the company of folks who aren't like me at all, particularly when it comes to work.

Maybe I can still learn after all.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Joel - you are correct to point out I was DEFINITELY NOT implying people are either dull or unintelligent if they do the same thing day in, day out. In fact on many occasions I've written and said that it's good to work with people who are not like ourselves because with an open mind we can probably learn more from opposites.

Each to their own as my late Dad would say.

Anonymous said...

My life often seems to be filled with familiarity. Many of my days seem to have a very familiar structure to them. However, I do often take risk. I like the challenge of difficult task and particularly in my profession. I will often take on very challenging jobs and try to turn them around. I guess what i do is try to provide a sense of familiarity to jobs that lack a good structure and familiarity. I don't think I would perform well under the circumstances that Trevor describes of constantly being on the go. I need more of a familiar schedule, but I do switch jobs every few years to keep a sense of challenge.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Rocky - you are a perfect example of someone who likes familiarity but thrives on challenge and risk taking and you are also a very creative thinker. Familiarity as Joel points out - and I agree 100% - does NOT mean dullness and uninteresting - it s just that we are all different and we should celebrate that. I guess I had 35 years of familiarity working in the National Health Service but - like you Rocky - I took risks and pushed the limits.

Great discussion- thanks Amigo - stay well

Anonymous said...

Let's see...

a. Variety is the spice of life...
b. Familiarity breeds contemp...

Think "A" is the best. Different challenges, different skills to use, different things to learn. Different folks to work with. A week like your would be a marvelous thing indeed.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Dave - we all learn in different ways. I learn best by 'doing.'

I believe the more I 'do' the more I learn.

Variety also keeps me on my toes.