purpose

Drain. The. Swamp.

They can be a little distracting...

They can be a little distracting…

This has been a reoccurring theme for me lately. Why are you there? What is your mission? The sum total purpose for your existence in this place, at this time, is to do… what exactly? Some helpful questions to ask yourself periodically to help avoid alligators: 

  1. What am I doing here? Why am I in this position? To accomplish what?
  2. What am I uniquely positioned to do here that no one else can do?
  3. What efforts can I undertake to make the most progress towards my stated goal?

Anything else is lateral drift, mission-creep. Don’t get bogged down in the reptile wrestling of minor things: Office gossip, admin squabbles, paper cuts, petty territorial disputes, the opinions of people that don’t know any better and don’t ultimately matter.

Remember what your purpose is. Drain the damn swamp. Alligators attack? Try to use one hand to fight them off and keep one hand on draining that swamp – it’s why you’re there in the first place.

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Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation TED talk

This is an absolute classic and one that has helped me decide what kind of work I most enjoy doing. The three keys towards fulfilling, cognitive work, are (summarized briefly):
*Autonomy – Do you control a majority of your time at work and what you’re working on?
*Mastery – Are you doing something you can get better at?
*Purpose – Do you feel like you’re a part of something larger than yourself?

These have been guide posts for me for the last three years since I first saw Mr. Pink spell out what I’d long suspected. My quarterly bonus of thousands of dollars as a Regional Manager wasn’t nearly as motivating to me as was the joy of helping one of my Managers succeed, or creating some new metric/model/marketing platform that would help propel our success. Sure, I love money, but I love my team and the thrill of winning a lot more. Especially when I get to create and collaborate in order to get there.

Give this a view and really check your current motivations for why you do what you do. Are you propelled by your bonus potential, or possessed by your passion?