It seems that so many people I speak with on a personal level are unhappy at work. They dread Mondays and have very little passion and motivation for their jobs. When I probe deeper I often find that there are several factors contributing to their misery. The top frustration that I find is a lack of ability to make a difference. People feel like they are cogs in a wheel and that it is close to impossible to have a significant impact.
The image below is one that I use in several workshops that my firm Groove Management facilitates. The image highlights the interplay between various levels in an organization. Morley Segal, a grad school professor of mine wrote a book Points of Influence which highlights these levels and recommends where to intervene to drive change.
As the gears depict an individual's ability to move the largest gear which represent the organization is quite difficult. Conversely one decision at the organizational level can have a drastic impact on the individual. This visual shows the importance of alignment and the struggle that individuals have with tying their work to the larger organizational purpose.
The second frustration that I hear from people about work has to do with their boss. As we have all heard, the number one reason people leave jobs is because of their manager. There is nothing pleasant about working for a bad boss and there are plenty of them in out there. In many cases these are not bad people. The boss is someone who has had no formal training on managing or leading people and they too are not clear on how they fit into the larger organizational equation.
The third and most eye opening frustration I hear from people is that they don't like to work. So many of my friends in their forties keep telling me they cannot wait to retire. I tend to look at them dumbfounded. Personally, I have no interest in ever retiring. I would find it boring and from at the data I have looked at people that retire tend to die younger. This leads me to an "Aha" moment I had on my morning run:
"To be happy at work, you have to like to work"
It amazes me how many people seem to dislike working. Hard work motivates me. I feel personally so much more fulfilled when I have worked hard. Exercise is a good example. While there are days I don't look forward to my morning run, I always feel so fulfilled after completing my 5k. A day spent doing nothing saps my energy and makes me feel useless. A desire to work hard is what separates the most successful people from the rest. It seems cheesy but I love the quote: "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary". I run a second company LeaderSurf that teaches executives to be better leaders through experiential learning and surfing lessons. In that program participants quickly learn that surfing is 90% paddling, 6% sitting on the board waiting for the wave and 4% actually surfing. Surfing is hard work and gets grossly misrepresented by all the sexy billboards of people riding waves.
I hear a lot of seasoned business leaders characterizing millennials as lazy. I find that characterization a lame over generalization. So many of those seasoned business leaders making that statement are the same people who hate their jobs and shy away from hard work themselves.
In the end, I believe that if you are passionate about what you do then hard work can be fun and motivating. Too many people live in what my friend Diane Peacock calls the "Drone Zone". My advise is to connect your passion with your purpose and find a new path forward. YouTube vlogger Lost Leblanc says:
"If you follow your passion it is impossible to lose"
Great advise from a Youtuber who has found a way to combine his love for travel and film making. Find your passion and you will never work another day.