Well, here I am, sitting down to write another weekly article for Market Leadership Journal. Truly, it’s just another task in an ongoing routine. Frankly, I just want to get it done so I can check this item off my list and move on with my day. If you like what I have to share, that’s fine. If not…well…whatever.
Have you ever found yourself approaching a task, job, or even a privileged opportunity, with that same attitude? I know that I have, and on such occasions, I have been guilty of the sin of sloth, also known as laziness. This is the fourth of the timeless seven deadly sins we began discussing several weeks ago, exploring them from a perspective of business ethics.
In the first chapter of my book Prospect & Flourish, you will find a topic called the “The Five Hurdles to Successful Prospecting.” The first of these hurdles is not understanding the value of what you are offering. In other words, if you truly don’t internalize the importance of what you do, and why you do it, then you will be susceptible to becoming lazy or slothful about it.
Today, our culture is rampant with cynicism–and it’s not just in our young people. In fact, it’s personified in the common expression, “Whatever.” How often have we found ourselves, if not using that expression, never-the-less displaying that attitude?
Why is this? I’m no expert here, but I suspect that part of it might be some level of fatigue from living in such a fast-paced culture. Today, in many ways, life and business moves at a pace many times faster than it did fifty years ago. Technology has helped facilitate this, and whether we realize it or not, we become tired, if not physically, then emotionally and spiritually.
It is that emotional fatigue that we need to watch out for. If you are experiencing this (and I think we all do), if you are feeling like your work is just a chore, and you are going through your routine and not really making any difference, then it is time to STOP for a moment, and take a hard look at the value you deliver.
The opposite of sloth is zeal—in this case, we need zeal for our mission! How do we get it?
I can’t offer a guaranteed solution, but I recommend reminding yourself of why you do what you do. Often, if we are detached from witnessing or experiencing the direct outcomes of our work, it may be easy to lose sight of them. For example, if you work for a manufacturing company of some kind, and your position is managing production within the operation, you likely may not see how the products of your work are put to use in the marketplace. In fact, in such cases, it is not unusual for some organizations go out of their way to communicate to their employees just how important their products are in the lives of other people. When you stay connected to a higher purpose, it can truly breathe life and enthusiasm into daily, sometimes menial routines.
In my work, I am often a story teller—and I can’t help but see yet another application and benefit of story telling here. It reminds me of an experience I had as an author (actually, I have had several of these experiences). When you write a book, it’s up to you to promote it, regardless of who publishes it. This work can often become redundant or routine, and indeed one can begin to take a “whatever” approach–until you run into that one reader who tells you how your book had an impact on their life.
I think we have all had experiences such as these, at least I certainly hope so. How did that make you feel? Did it put some wind into those sagging sails? If you feel like you have lost your zeal, first remember that it’s normal. But don’t settle. Remember how your work impacts people’s lives–and instead of thinking “WHAT-ever,” allow yourself to be fueled by the WHY.