Wednesday, February 22, 2023

10 Strategies Of Professionals Who Love What They Do

professionals-love-what-they-doAs an experienced business professional and mentor, I find that most successful peers will admit that they love what they do. From all the rest, I often hear the complaints about lack of motivation, boring job assignments, and bad management. My challenge has always been how to get people from the second category into the first. I’m finally convinced that only you can change yourself.

I always thought that I must be lucky to have found so much excitement and satisfaction from my work, so I never had any really good answers to those of you who second category who wanted to move to the first. Therefore, I was pleased to see some good insights and recommendations in a new book, “Intrinsic Motivation,” by Stefan Falk, a McKinsey & Company performance coach.

He shares some key habits and attitudes that have inspired me and should motivate anyone to look forward to their work, rather than complain about it:

  1. Identify something exciting in every task you face. Self-motivated or intrinsically motivated people know there are no boring tasks, only boring ways to think about tasks. We use deliberate thinking to consciously and intentionally cultivate our curiosity and our ability to improve the way we do things. We don’t waste time and energy on old habits.

  2. Focus on meeting every commitment you make. Meeting commitments creates a natural tension and challenge in your work life. Every day becomes an opportunity to feel good about your capabilities and contributions. Don’t make commitments that have no potential for positive return on your effort, or no potential for learning or satisfaction.

  3. Learn from mistakes and awkward situations. Be grateful for your failures and difficulties, because they focus you on what you need to work on. Accept the fact that making mistakes is part of being human and it is something you can learn to embrace and use as a way to improve your understanding of yourself and the world around you.

  4. Set daily goals focused on personal development. Make these goals pragmatic and concrete, rather than nebulous dreams. Be sure to analyze goal results regularly and celebrate every success. When you fall short, find ways to improve your performance and develop new goals. The feeling of daily growth is the biggest energy booster there is.

  5. Re-prioritize daily what is strategically important. Sort your work and development opportunities into three buckets: always important, game changers, and not important now. That last one is especially valuable because it allows you to take things off the table, reducing your stress and enhancing your ability to focus on what matters most.

  6. Use self-doubt as incentive for self-improvement. Self-confidence is important but taken to excess it can lead to complacency. Nothing is ever completely under your control, and a healthy amount of worry enables good performance. The key to harnessing self-doubt starts with your confidence in your ability to set yourself up for success.

  7. Never focus on things you can’t control. Being distracted by issues you can’t influence is a de-motivator, whereas focusing on what you can control (your own behavior) is a great source of inner strength. That’s how you build resilience and start making positive changes, no matter what kind of chaos is happening around you.

  8. Always develop a plan before proceeding. Too little planning leads to stress and less than optimum results. In fact, there are no truly complicated tasks, if you think them through carefully before you dive in. If the plan requires many steps and many details, it helps to write down the plan to make sure it is clear and complete before starting.

  9. View other people as assets to learn from. The best way to learn how to do a new task is to emulate someone who knows it and does it well. You can also learn what to avoid by watching someone perform a task poorly. Avoid the pain of making every mistake alone.

  10. Use a trusted coach to tell you what you need to hear. A good coach provides you with honest feedback on your performance that you can’t see. You don’t have to like your coach, as long as you can trust the person to tell you what you need to hear. Just remember that they have no requirement to motivate you – that is your responsibility.

Stefan and I both believe that the key to appreciating any activity is to engage in outcome-focused behavior, as opposed to activity-focused behavior. He and I both believe that too much focus on activities versus results is a primary cause of burnout among the professionals we know. Thus, I’m convinced that the secret of managing satisfaction at work is managing your own mind.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 2/7/2023 ***



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