Dave Conrad: You should learn something each day

Dear Dave: I feel stale at work. I tend to just make it through the day doing the same routine things over and over again. My job was once more challenging and rewarding and I felt a sense of purpose, but I now find it somewhat boring and tedious and I don't think I am adding much value to my team or the company. Any ideas? — P

Dear P: I know exactly what you mean, though I firmly believe that we need to remember our purpose and what we are contributing when doing our job. We need to remind ourselves why we took the job, what importance it has, and keep the "big picture" in mind -- what we do impacts others and affects what they do.

We cannot all be -- or choose not to be -- rocket scientists or brain surgeons. I am glad there are people who do those things, but I think we need to realize that we are also serving a need and to be proud that we are doing it. I don't care if you are digging ditches, or teaching young, fresh minds, you are taking action on a problem, gap, challenge, or need.

In addition, we have strengths that we can apply creatively and productively in any given situation. Many people tell me, "I am a people person." I think that is well and good and we need "people people," but my first reaction is, then what are you doing with that competency? Are you going beyond the daily rudiments of your job and helping people who are struggling, as well as showing excitement when people accomplish something?

I also think we can add passion to our work by applying our weaknesses. I know … some readers will think that I am nuts, because every management "expert" says we must identify and maximize the use of our strengths. Yes, we should develop and exploit our strengths. But, we also should be applying what we don't do very well in the hope that we can then do these things better.


For instance: we may think we are just bad listeners and do not try to understand what others are saying and mean. Then know this, and when you are talking to someone, who really needs someone to listen, don't speak and just intently listen. Try to really show interest and capture what another person may be struggling to work out. You don't have to be someone who has all of the answers, but I think just being there for someone is an answer and will provide you a sense of purpose.

What I am trying to say here is, go beyond the routine tasks, functions, and requirements of your job and really try to be present, be observant, be analytical, and be respectful and helpful to others. I think you will find a revitalized sense of purpose, mission, and achievement by doing so. Being outward-focused is a tremendous way to rediscover what you can and should do and will also encourage you to get off your "pity pot" and realize there is a lot more going on than the way I am feeling, or the boredom I am sensing.

Also, learn something significant every day. And, try to help others learn something significant every day. I think education and learning is all we have to really solve the problems of the world and those challenges in our everyday lives. Learning drives competence and competence drives confidence. It also will help us with our career and vocation advancement. Learning adds to fulfillment and just plain makes us feel good.

In summary, you, I, and everyone else experience the drudgery, routines, and rhythm of our work and our roles. It happens. But, I think we need to pause, reflect, and think about ways we can add value to our lives and the lives of others. This will be the "stimulus package" that you can take to work every day and make work to re-energize your passion and purpose, as well as that of others.

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