More than two weeks into the quarantine and apparently four more to go. One of the biggest challenges for me as a leader has been keeping our office team connected to one another. That means not just keeping track of the day-to-day tasks for each team member but also keeping them together on a human level and connecting to our company’s higher mission. On a normal day, it’s easy to get lost in the tedium of daily tasks, and now, for those who remain healthy, we are focusing on hand-washing, keeping the pantry stocked and juggling work and kids. As the days wear on, we risk becoming prisoners to the mundane tasks and slipping into the dullness of just getting by. That’s dangerous. Mission and purpose and dreams keep us motivated and moving forward. And passion and enthusiasm for those dreams will be necessary once we are faced with rebuilding our world in a post-quarantine society.
Here, a blog from a while back about avoiding the “stuckness” of the mundane. I thought it an important message for the moment.
Today was one of those days spent more on the tedium of the job than the joys. Some days are like that. That’s why taking a few moments each day to connect with the passion that fuels you is so important. I rediscovered one of my earliest blogs that talks about this and thought it was worth a reshare.
I went for a walk today with one of the more junior people on my staff. It’s a ritual that I started recently—taking a midday walk and “dragging” a member of the team along with me. It gets me away from my desk for a little bit…allows me to enjoy some much needed sunshine and fresh air…and gives me time to connect with team members in an informal way. When my children were younger, I spent a great deal of time hiking with them, and I learned to greatly appreciate the magical connection and sharing that occurs when out walking.
And so today, “Debbie” and I went for a walk. We talked about our mentors and the best advice we received from them. And then Debbie asked me how I stay motivated on a daily basis in the midst of the day-to- day work grind. That answer was easy. I connect with our customers and the mission of what we are doing—in our case, helping people live more powerful and informed lives. I hate hearing stories about people being victims when there are simple things they can do to be more in control of their lives. They just need to know what to do and have the courage to do it.
As my role has changed throughout my career, I have noted which moments in the day energize me and which ones virtually suck the life out of me. At different levels in the organization, elation is achieved by different things—a budget reconciliation that balanced…weekly inventory that also balanced…a marketing test that was properly executed—and won…a presentation that was well-received…or even new business connections that were made. The list goes on, and it is different for everybody.
But even with those successes, it is easy to get lost in just “moving the pile of papers from the left side of the desk to the right side”—in other words, drowning in the mundane tasks of the job. We all have them. I remember my sister telling the story of meeting the president of the highly respected publishing company where she worked who had a sadness about him because he spent most of his day managing the business and the shareholders rather than creating books, which was his true love.
On most days I have between four and six meetings—sometimes more…and rarely fewer. Most of these meetings are focused on governance and keeping all of the corporate balls in the air. They’re crucial and inspiring, but in truth, they also can be draining because these meetings are a step away from touching and feeling our mission as we are able to do in editorial story meetings or when speaking with our customers. When I hosted my radio show (Bottom Line on Your Health, 2010–2012), my entire body would change as I got totally engulfed in the discussions. After two hours of tough interviews, I would have more energy than when I started because I connected with the passion that drives me.
The beauty of getting older is that you become far more aware of how you want to spend your time…
When talking with Debbie, I realized the beauty of getting older is that you become far more aware of how you want to spend your time and how you need to spend your time. For me, it’s doing at least one thing every day that actively advances our mission. It could be working with our editorial team on our content…mentoring a member of the team…or my most favorite thing—talking to our customers.
The Bottom Line? Find a few moments in every day to spend time on the piece of the job that gets your juices flowing. Don’t worry if it is not the “task at hand.” Reconnecting with your passion will move you through any momentary grind and into greatness.
Sarah Hiner, president and CEO of Bottom Line Inc., is passionate about giving people the tools and knowledge they need to be in control of their lives in areas such as living a healthier life, the challenges of the health-care system, commonsense financial advice and creating great relationships. She appears often on national radio and hosts the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast, where she interviews leading experts to help people be their own best advocates in all areas of life.