It’s been a lot of years now since I heard these words during a drawing class — it was valuable advice then, and I believe it’s even more valuable now — and it’s a great framing device for understanding more about how you fit in the world, how others think, and what they do well that you haven’t yet noticed.
When something is easy, it feels like fun
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has written about the feeling of flow, calling it “a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill…” I interpret this as the feeling of fun, of knowing that you can answer all questions about a given topic, that you are truly in the moment, and that it all just … feels easy. The hardest thing about feeling that something is easy is that it’s not always easy to share that feeling — people have different learning styles that might not mesh with your own sharing or teaching style — and that other people might not find it, well, fun.
Conversely, when something is hard, it feels like drudgery
I don’t mean to suggest that people shouldn’t do hard work. Rather, I mean to suggest that when something feels like drudgery, it just might not be fun. People can see the effort in your face, in the way you react, and in the way that you talk and express yourself. The easiest thing about something hard is that you feel that it might last forever (not true, most of the time) and that it’s easy to just give up.
Find the people who are having fun, and ask them why
So find the people around you who are having fun. Ask them more about what they do and why it’s fun. The answer might not be for you, but it will give you valuable insights as to that person’s place in the world, the way they view themselves, and how they contribute to your organization or team. It will also give you excellent insight into how you can help them, how you can share your fun experiences with them (and in what style), and who knows? You might learn something.
There are experts all around you — you may not have met them yet, but they are a wealth of experience, expertise, and insight. Find a few of these people every day and you will find yourself experiencing flow more often — it will be the flow of finding out how your team fits together. Also, even if they think what you do is hard, they’ve got something that’s easy for them to do that they might like to share more about with you. (If you’re wondering, you can ask me about photography or drawing anytime.)