Below I’ve highlighted in bold what I believe are the essentials to employment engagement. A lot of it may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising difficult for many people to actually feel that they’re achieving all of these things.
“Purpose is not a noun, it is a verb. It is about how we work. We experience purpose when we do something that’s greater than ourselves. We experience purpose when we push ourselves and grow. We experience purpose as part of a community.”
“When it comes to purpose at work, there are three core drivers that will determine whether we feel fulfilled in what we’re doing: who we serve, how we serve them, and why we serve them.”
“But, there are times when job crafting and meaning-making don’t cut it. There are times when it is important to make a bigger change to a new profession or a new employer. The cliche, backed by research, is that most people take a job for the organization and leave because of their manager. No manager is perfect, but there are managers who are simply not a good fit for someone, or worse yet, are incompetent and undermining the teamwork of those around them. Sadly, most managers are clueless about what motivates their team. When asked to identify what their employees want, the top three things cited are good wages, job security, and promotion opportunities. When employees are actually asked, they report the top three as appreciation, feeling ‘in’ on things, and an understanding attitude. Not only did managers fail to identify these as the top drivers, they put them at the bottom of the list.”
My roommate has recently being watching a lot of Elon Musk interviews. She sent me a section of transcript from the Q&A that followed his TED talk. I’d like to share it, because it’s not often that I find ideas about thinking itself to be so crystal clear.
Watch the TED talk
Question to Elon Musk:
18:46 CA: My theory is that you have an ability to think at a system level of design that pulls together design, technology and business, so if TED was TBD, design, technology and business, into one package, synthesize it in a way that very few people can and — and this is the critical thing — feel so damn confident in that clicked-together package that you take crazy risks. You bet your fortune on it, and you seem to have done that multiple times. I mean, almost no one can do that. Is that — could we have some of that secret sauce? Can we put it into our education system? Can someone learn from you? It is truly amazing what you’ve done.
19:30 EM: Well, thanks. Thank you. Well, I do think there’s a good framework for thinking. It is physics. You know, the sort of first principles reasoning. Generally I think there are — what I mean by that is, boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there, as opposed to reasoning by analogy. Through most of our life, we get through life by reasoning by analogy, which essentially means copying what other people do with slight variations. And you have to do that. Otherwise, mentally, you wouldn’t be able to get through the day. But when you want to do something new, you have to apply the physics approach. Physics is really figuring out how to discover new things that are counterintuitive, like quantum mechanics. It’s really counterintuitive. So I think that’s an important thing to do, and then also to really pay attention to negative feedback, and solicit it, particularly from friends. This may sound like simple advice, but hardly anyone does that, and it’s incredibly helpful.
Meaghan Nolan, the founder of UX Lab, said to me this week during a General Assembly event something to the effect of: “For my parents’ generation, the mantra in life was to work hard. You got to where you wanted to be by working hard. In our generation, working hard just ensures that you’ll be overwhelmed. We can’t just work hard, we need to focus.”
We all have many opportunities in life. The hard part is knowing which ones to pick. If we work hard and pick them all, how do we fit sleep in our lives? We can’t. We can only pick the opportunities that we feel most strongly about and focus on those.
Her words really resonated with me, because I work hard on all the things I do – whether it’s design related or not. That hard work brings me many interesting opportunities that appear shiny and wonderful. I always want to jump in and be a part of them.
It’s so easy to become distracted. There’s so much noise around us with people telling us how to best grow our careers, what our next moves should be and where we should go. Many people want to do it all. But doing it all comes with a price. It means that you’re getting pulled in more directions and that you won’t be moving as fast as you want in any one particular direction.
If you have somewhere you want to go, you can’t just hustle. You need to make it your focus to get there.