Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Motivation in the 21st Century Workplace

Motivation is a powerful tool.  Without motivation, all beings remain sedentary, and a sedentary, still life or lifestyle is a dangerous thing.  It leads to atrophy, lethargy, and in some species, it could even lead to outright death.  OK, I understand that I probably shouldn't write new blogs when I'm in a mood like this, but I'm hoping, albeit in a very selfish way, that composing my thoughts in this blog may serve as a sort of cathartic exercise; that is, I hope that it will help to get my head out of my butt and get back with the program!

I'm not sure why it is these days that I seem to lack motivation.  I mean, I don't have a problem mowing my lawn and making it one of the nicest in the neighborhood even as the trees continue to dump their bounty of colored leaves.  I don't have a problem getting up in the morning to face a new and exciting day.  I don't even have a problem staying up late to watch live sports, reality programs, and certain network TV comedies and dramas with my family.  My motivation is lacking within the workplace, and this is of great concern to me.  Historically, when I feel this lack of energy and motivation on the job, I become antsy, anxious, melancholy, and frustrated.  These things usually lead to a kind of wanderlust that becomes downright distracting.  Because I love my job and I love what I do for a living, I owe it to myself and my organization to find other ways to motivate myself.  I can't imagine a better career fit for me than what I have right now.

You see, I work for one of the largest, global humanitarian aid organizations in the world.  As the website says, "CARE is a leader in the fight against global poverty."  Ours is a very complex organization, and, as with most complex and other organizations these days, we are doing our best to do more with less.  We must achieve more outcomes with fewer resources (both financial and human).  It's the name of the game in this 21st century workplace.  It's a supply and demand problem, quite frankly.  There are greater and greater needs in the world, but there is a smaller supply of resources to meet those needs.  This disparity between supply and demand has led non-profit organizations like CARE to downsize staffing levels.  This downsizing is difficult, of course, for those who have been asked to leave the organization.  But, also, I believe that a type of "survivors' syndrome" has kicked in for many of us who remain.  Every day, we see farewell emails from colleagues, both long-term and short-term, who are departing CARE for other opportunities in this or a similar field.  The holes left by these staff members leave more than gaps in the organizational chart; they leave a potential divide in the ability of the organization to meet the needs of its constituency. 

I suppose it is the prospect of CARE not being able to be as powerful as it has set out to be that makes me melancholy, pensive, and, as I mentioned earlier, a bit anxious.  Sometimes these feelings can lead to paralysis by analysis.  One may choose to sit back every day and analyze the situation at hand, which may lead to inaction due to an overwhelming sense of defeatism.  OK, that is much too heavy an explanation for my lack of motivation, I admit.  I guess it's just tough when you see so many good, well-educated and well-meaning people leave the organization to which you yourself have devoted your life's energy, talent, and passion.  I know that organizations and companies are much like overgrown forests:  a little bit of fire and destruction can be a good thing that brings about new life, new ideas, and a refreshed spirit.  It just takes so damned long to get there, and the prospect of starting over again is a daunting one that is exhausting.

But, like most journeys that are worth it (like when I trained for and completed the 2000 Chicago Marathon), we should not focus on the destination as the most important thing.  Rather, we should do our best to enjoy the process of trying to get there.  Because, unlike the marathon, when it comes to the 21st century workplace, it is becoming harder and harder to believe that we will really, truly ever "get there".  Not a very motivating thought, I know, but it is what it is, and I've got a lot of work to do.  We all do.  No time like the present, eh?  Let's get 'er done!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My first blog's inspiration!

Well, I have to hand it to my oldest daughter Kylie.  If it weren't for her and her blogs, I would not be writing this very first published blog on this website.  Yay!  At just a few months before her 17th birthday, she is already a seasoned and accomplished blogger.  Blogger?  Is that the right terminology?  Admittedly, at age 45, I'm not sure about all of this stuff.  I guess I'll learn as I go (and I'll learn as I get constructive feedback from my readers).  Readers?  What a dreamer I am.

Kylie says that each blog should be at least 300 words long and it could be as long as I want it to be.  That is probably not the best thing that she could tell me.  The most prevalent comment on my papers in college and graduate school from my professors and advisors was, "Economize!"  Yes, folks, I can be quite long-winded in my written (and probably also my oral) communication.  What can I say?  I have a lot to say. 

But, in the spirit of economy, I will end my very first blog now.  This will give me the encouragement and motivation to write my second blog.  Thanks, Kylie.  You are my inspiration.  Keep up the good work on your blog.  For those interested in reading a real blog, go to http://kygirl12.blogspot.com.  My kid really knows what she's doing.  You know?  You can learn a lot from a teenager.