“To have a great purpose to work for, a purpose larger than ourselves, is one of the secrets of making life significant, for then the meaning and worth of the individual overflow his personal borders and survive his death.” Will Durant
Work … what is it? Why do you do it? Why do so many people hate the work they are doing?
The FreeDictionary defines work as
1. Physical or mental effort or activity directed toward the production or accomplishment of something.
So, why do so many people disengage in the work they are doing? What would allow you to engage in work in a way that you were able to produce positive results and enjoy it?
George Bernard Shaw the renowned poet opined that life has a special meaning and that is to say, “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.” Not that many people say that their life is filling a purpose never mind a mighty one.
As a coach I come across many people who are less than satisfied with the work they do. For some people their work has resulted in depression. The work is so unsatisfying that they can’t do their work. They feel trapped in doing work that is meaningless because of some benefit that their employer offers that they feel unsure that they can get somewhere else. Who am I to get a better job some think. Asked what their purpose statement is and most people can’t think of one and it is no wonder that they are stuck doing work that doesn’t agree with them. They don’t know how to align their purpose, their gifts, their strengths and their talents with the work they do.
When we are able to use our natural talents and are able to express those talents in the engagement of work we become more productive. When we know what we love to do and are able to do what we love we are happier. It seems to make sense yet close to 80% of people are doing work they don’t like. Perhaps it is possible to say that most work isn’t enjoyable and that something has to be done to make money (earning a living is still important) to live on.
Read what Jim Collins wrote about having the right people in the right job doing the work that they love to do.
Disciplined people: “Who” before “what”
“You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it’s your job to get it going. You have to decide where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and who’s going with you.
Most people assume that great bus drivers (read: business leaders) immediately start the journey by announcing to the people on the bus where they’re going—by setting a new direction or by articulating a fresh corporate vision.
In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And they stick with that discipline—first the people, then the direction—no matter how dire the circumstances. Take David Maxwell’s bus ride. When he became CEO of Fannie Mae in 1981, the company was losing $1 million every business day, with $56 billion worth of mortgage loans underwater. The board desperately wanted to know what Maxwell was going to do to rescue the company.
Maxwell responded to the “what” question the same way that all good-to-great leaders do: He told them, That’s the wrong first question. To decide where to drive the bus before you have the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus, is absolutely the wrong approach.
Maxwell told his management team that there would only be seats on the bus for A-level people who were willing to put out A-plus effort. He interviewed every member of the team. He told them all the same thing: It was going to be a tough ride, a very demanding trip. If they didn’t want to go, fine; just say so. Now’s the time to get off the bus, he said. No questions asked, no recriminations. In all, 14 of 26 executives got off the bus. They were replaced by some of the best, smartest, and hardest-working executives in the world of finance.
With the right people on the bus, in the right seats, Maxwell then turned his full attention to the “what” question. He and his team took Fannie Mae from losing $1 million a day at the start of his tenure to earning $4 million a day at the end. Even after Maxwell left in 1991, his great team continued to drive the flywheel—turn upon turn—and Fannie Mae generated cumulative stock returns nearly eight times better than the general market from 1984 to 1999.
When it comes to getting started, good-to-great leaders understand three simple truths. First, if you begin with “who,” you can more easily adapt to a fast-changing world. If people get on your bus because of where they think it’s going, you’ll be in trouble when you get 10 miles down the road and discover that you need to change direction because the world has changed. But if people board the bus principally because of all the other great people on the bus, you’ll be much faster and smarter in responding to changing conditions. Second, if you have the right people on your bus, you don’t need to worry about motivating them. The right people are self-motivated: Nothing beats being part of a team that is expected to produce great results. And third, if you have the wrong people on the bus, nothing else matters. You may be headed in the right direction, but you still won’t achieve greatness. Great vision with mediocre people still produces mediocre results.”
There is a company that know how to get the right people in the right seats on the bus. Taylor Protocols can do the type of individual analysis to see if the seats on the bus have the right people on it. It makes sense to have the right people engaged in the work they do. Imagine what would be possible if everyone was able to be engaged in their work. It is currently estimated that organizational output is only at 33% and that means hiring more people to get work done that could be done with fewer people if they were fully engaged in their work.
Shawn Achor has been doing research on happiness, and positive psychology and asking some great questions and getting real answers. Happy people perform better on the job and in the job.
Take a few minutes and listen to the arguments Shawn puts forth.
Now, what are you going to do? Are you going to continue to work at things you don’t enjoy? Are you going to stay stuck in a job that you wish would go away?
Take a few steps and identify what would be better for you.
1. Define your purpose
2. Define your strengths
3. Define your natural talents
4. Create a plan so that your work or your new work, works for you.
William Dubois put down his thoughts like this, “The return from your work must be the satisfaction which that work bring you and the world’s need of that work. With this, life is heaven, or as near heaven as you can get. Without this – with work which you despise, which bores you, and which the world does not need – this life is hell.”
What do you want to do? Work in heaven or work in hell. Most people have chosen to work in hell. Where do you want to work?