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Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.
Day 2 of 31- Purpose
I spoke yesterday about my mantra of not spending energy or time on people, situations, or prospects that don’t serve my purpose. I find the concept of purpose an interesting and elusive idea. When we are young, people ask us what we want to be when we grow up and we give an answer based on two possible premises: either we answer based on what we see modeled in others in our family or we answer based on the things we like at that point in our lives. As we get older, there is both this familial and societal push for us to settle in on a vocation that allows us to support ourselves financially. This societal push is perplexing because, we are essentially forced to make a decision about the trajectory of our lives at 17 or 18 years of age never being privy to the one thing that makes all the difference in being successful and enjoying your life: purpose.
In my opinion, this lack of emphasis on living with purpose has caused several generations to meander about the workforce from job to job; and in some cases career to career with no guiding principles for how they can cultivate a meaningful contribution to humanity. No wonder there are plentiful stories of unproductive and disengaged workforces. There’s no surprise that people are sailing through life in a stupor. I know people right now who are 50+ years of age -and are finally discovering the ingredients for living a purposeful life. That’s a long time to have lived, worked and expended energy on people, situations, and activities that don’t connect to the essence of who you are. We all need a focus or an objective in life and work.
Have you ever observed a family member or friend who is getting on in age? Among many things that contribute to their occasional bouts of lashing out and irritability is: losing a sense of purpose. The idea that they are no longer viable or able to be of service is often the result of their mental and physical undoing. The same holds true for people in general- we all just want to be a part of something.
I think we should expose children to the concept of having a purpose for their life. The focus doesn’t have to be linear or based on societal pressures, but it should connect to the things that are at the core of who they are. In the least abstract way, I try to explain to my kids that there is great power in doing what you really love. I understand as a parent that “what they love” maybe fleeting at this stage, but at least they are focusing on what they love in whatever moment they are in. I try to model it through my work so they don’t see me as a product of indecision, but someone who is intentional about the work I do and the life I live. My hope is that this focus evolves as they get older and they start to connect-the-dots in doing the things they are good at and have a passion for.
It isn’t enough to make a ton of money. There has to be something uniquely pleasurable and interesting about the work that we do. The intersection of having money and uniquely pleasurable work is bliss. It may sound crazy, but I have recently dedicated myself to seeking out only the initiatives, causes and work that cause my heart to race. It’s just a happier existence for me and it could be for you.
Czarina’s Lesson: Nobody should care more about how your story gets written, but you. Make sure you are in the driver seat of your life.
Campaign/FTC disclosure: I will receive compensation for promoting this campaign. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. Xerox has hired me as a brand ambassador for this campaign because of my influence on social media and in talent management. I am not formally employed by Xerox. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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According to Merriam-Webster, Optimism is defined as “a hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.” I believe every new employee starts out with an abundance of optimism for their career pursuits with a company. It’s sort of like you waking up with an abundance of money in your bank account, but due to cost of living and other expenditures the money becomes less and less and more often than not- it is depleted. Optimism works the same way. The pot of optimism is essentially there to be nurtured, invested and increased. The issue is companies that are unaware of its value and impact will blindly deplete it.
Where does the love go?
We are still hearing reports about 70% of the workforce being disengaged. Why don’t more companies get it? The problem is business leaders understand the business but they seldom have their finger on the pulse of the true motivations, intentions or wishes of their employees. Furthermore, they seem to be missing the mark on keeping that account of optimism funded as the employee continues to work for them.
Being able to harness and sustain the enthusiasm for the company’s objectives as well as providing meaningful work experiences will be key factor in deploying a successful talent strategy in the future. Today’s top talent comes with high expectations, fleeting loyalty and a drive to make an impact. Companies that are able to inspire and sustain enthusiasm will likely be most successful in being able to retain and mobilize their employees to achieve business objectives.
All along, we thought that retention was about nurturing employees such that they would remain with a company. Given this notion that Xerox puts forth of the Return on Optimism (ROO), we come to understand that when individuals are recognized and understood by the business-the company realizes increased productivity, teams are more innovative, clarity around business objectives is commonplace and in return the company retains happier employees.
It’s not a generational thing
It doesn’t matter what generation you belong to, most people prefer to do work that is meaningful for them. If we had to define what ‘meaningful’ would look like – it would be a cross between something you are great at and something you are passionate about. Businesses have a choice of having a miserable workforce that will likely be unproductive and even destructive to the business or they can intentionally ensure that they do all that is possible to help people succeed in their careers.
How many times during the course of your career, have you been asked about what you are good at and the work that you enjoy?
In my case, I have seldom been asked this question. Admittedly, it is a loaded question since the answer will vary from person to person. What do we gain if companies looked at aligning people to their goals; while also satisfying individual career goals and aspirations? All things being equal, you would have your people doing what they love and excel at-which would in turn empower them to give you 100% of their effort in achieving business outcomes. There would be less heavy lifting where it comes to performance management, because we all would be speaking the same language of constant improvement and building on successes. Sounds like a simple solution to a nagging business issue.
How do you see “return on optimism” being used to develop talent strategy?
Want to see how your company stacks up? Take Xerox’s “Return on Optimism” quiz for further insights from top executives at Xerox and other Fortune 500 companies. Click here. Also, see my survey results here.