There I was, a few weeks ago, sitting with one of the leaders I support and we were seriously in a state. Both of us. He had been, and was, having a tough time. Business conditions have been hard with no indications that things were going to improve in the short term. Some things that were being tried to rectify business performance were not seeming to have any effect. Making progress against our goals is one of the most powerful motivators. The opposite being when you get home from work and feel like you have achieved nothing. We all know how that feels and it ain't good.
I was in a state because I have been feeling exhausted and in need of a holiday, and also feeling like the things I have been working on don’t make a difference. I think we all want to make a difference and do something worthwhile that has meaning, whether in our work life or doing something else. Even Prince William wants to do something that is worthwhile.
So there we were, two pretty senior people feeling down and dejected. Some would say we needed to harden
the fuck up. We decided to go have lunch
and look at the water. Same same.
I had been feeling particularly bad about the situation because when I say I want to make a difference, it’s working with and supporting senior leaders where I feel I can make the most difference, and on this day I just wasn’t in the right head space to do this and it really make me reflect. Here was an opportunity to do what I love best, and I had nothing. I even admitted this to the leader.
I knew I needed a holiday and at the end of that week I would get one, but still....ultimately this is what I get paid for and I was out. I had nothing. My emotional bank was empty. It bothered me for a couple of days but eventually I got into a space where I had some nuggets to share with this leader. Here are three things I shared.
My first one was about Disneyland....the story started with, “when I was in the Broncos cheersquard I got to go to Disneyland and do a backstage dance workshop......” I’m sure it was at this point he thought I was nuts, though earlier in the week he got to see my eccentric old lady sunglasses so perhaps he had a hint anyway......
So I did get to do a backstage dance workshop with the Broncos cheersquard when I was 21 at Disneyland in California. I can’t tell you how cool that was. The think that stuck in my mind though, was the choregrapher was telling us about going for auditions and being upset when she didn’t get the job. Her advice was to have a good cry about it, and then pull yourself together and get on with things. That advice really stuck with me. It’s ok and acutally great if you have passion and emotion with what we do. We are humans and are emotional beings before being rational beings. It’s ok to be upset, frustrated, down and low energy when everything you are trying is just not working. Go wallow, go cry but put a limit on it because it’s carthartic for a bit, but if it goes on too long you are heading into the realm of professional help. Which is also fine, as long as you get some professional help.
Secondly, I shared that because I was feeling like I wasn’t achieving anything I went back to the work goals I had set at the start of the year. I was feeling so wrapped up in small admin type work that I needed to make sure I was still on track with the big ticket items. I surprised myself that I was! I added some notes to my goals in our online system, which made me feel great, (progress against goals is motivating) and then went and created a mind map of what needed to be achieved during the coming months.
The third thing that helped was doing a day of interviews for a Finance person. Yep I know. How exciting could that be? But it turned out to be a great day where we met some really great people. One of the candidates, who we really liked, couldn’t articulate his achievements in his previous roles. We tried a number of ways of asking about these but got nothing. After the interview the Finance Director (who I was interviewing with) turned to me and said “you know, you and I could write a long list of what we have achieved just in the last 6 months!” And it was true. That made me feel great when I started to think about that.
Back in Singapore our Regional leader had done somthing similar. He had written a list of all the things that had been achieved so far in the year across the regions we support. This was the longest list. The next list were the things we were still working on. It was a middle size list, and then the last list were the things we hadn’t got to yet. It was a pretty short list.
Sometimes you just have to take stock and reflect on how far you have come. I’m not big on looking back but sometimes you just have to, to see how far you have come. To see the progress you have made. Check out this guy Dr Jason Fox my fav person on motivation and making clever happen.
What are your tips when feeling unmotivated? What do you do?