Are you freaking out with joy?
At age 6, Madison went to a friend’s dance recital. She instantly decided to become a dancer. Her mother enrolled her in a class and then took her to a store to buy dance clothes. Standing in front of the mirror in the fitting room, wearing her chosen black leotard and skirt, Madison said, “Mommy, I am freaking out with joy! I was born to dance!” Three years later, she still was dancing.
Betsy Myers, who has spent years studying leadership, points out that people who love what they do have an “almost magnetic quality.” She says that quality really is authenticity. “When Madison is dancing, she is not only genuinely happy, she also is being fully Madison.” The best leaders — and the best colleagues — exude authenticity, joy and optimism.
We may not admit it often, but most of us got into journalism because it made us freak out with joy. It might have been the joy of writing, photography, digging up news, or meeting insane deadlines. As we get better at it, there should be more joy. At a fairly advanced age, I was by myself in a newsroom on a Saturday struggling to find the right way to start the most ambitious narrative I’d ever written. When it clicked, I assure you I freaked out with joy. I’m glad no one found the security camera tape of my fist-pumping, bouncing-off-the-walls celebration.
Are you regularly freaking out with joy? If not, why not? Who is responsible for putting joy back in your journalism?