Hack Your Secret Work Codes

I sent Sylvie an invite on LinkedIn. Sylvie and I are social friends in the community where I live.

Sylvie’s email response to me: Wow, so happy to connect with you in the professional world. What an honor!

Sweet, right?

I adore Sylvie. But here’s the secret code in Sylvie’s email to me:

We separate professional and personal.


Don’t get me wrong. I believe in strong personal boundaries. Not every colleague needs to become a friend, just as not every friend is my best friend or my closest friend. There are gradations in all of our relationships.

As an entrepreneur, I have learned that the great clients, the lasting ones, often become friends. Good friends.

Holding on to a fierce delineation between professional and personal is an entirely arbitrary act. It takes a heck of a lot of effort. And it’s an expression of a work code that inhibits personal success. Hack the code.

We separate work and play.

I chuckle at the real estate ad that touts a live/work/play lifestyle. It showcases a condo in an urban area where the owner has the benefit of living close to an office and even closer to sundry nighttime diversions. In real estate lingo, play is not associated with work. Play is what you do AFTER work.

More hogwash.

TGIF. Work is a necessary evil. Humpday. Counting the days to my next vacation. Just some of the lingo of this code.

What play looks like at work is highly personal. It depends on our personality and the nature of our work. It requires a bit of personal exploration. But let’s be clear: The code is a spirit-killer.

Hack it.

We separate routine and creative work.

We love to predetermine the level of enjoyment a task will yield. Routine work is – well, routine. Creative work is exciting and stimulating.

Yep, more hogwash.

I’m a writer, and I had a professional theatre career for over a decade. Creative work, right? Lots of creative work can quickly become stale and repetitive. Another graphic design will soon feel like just another graphic design. Lots of very routine work, on the other hand, has the potential to be highly creative. Because the task I perform is predictable, my attention can direct itself to the quality and nuances of my execution. And that is wonderfully creative, indeed.

Limits are good. Limiting work codes are not.

A work year is coming to an end. This is a month in which the pressures we impose on ourselves illumine every secret work code that fuels us. Professional/Personal. Work/Play. Obligation/Choice. Fun/Not Fun.

All codes. As you approach a new year, why not hack your secret work codes!

The ones that don’t serve you. The ones that limit how you show up at your place of work. The ones that get in the way of a deeper enjoyment of work.

Hack ‘em. Let them go.

It will boldly re-energize your experience of work..