The kid’s test: try and go talk with a kid (doesn’t have to be yours), or a college student, or a young new hire about your job and why you’re doing it.
Chances are, if you’re not you’re not doing something that matters to you, you’ll not be able to even explain it. Or, even if you can, chances are they’ll not even get it, or you’ll feel like a fraud trying to make your job appealing.
It struck me in recruiting events, when my company was trying to get me to speak to young applicants about my job, the company, everything. They’d put us in a nice room with food and drinks, and, after an inspirational speech of the HR and big bosses, we were all walking around the room available for discussions. You could see who loved their jobs (or were really good at making others believe that they did). They would even seek-out students to talk to. They would move their arms, have lively speeches that made a lot of sense, ask questions. I wasn’t one of those. I felt trapped, awkward. At the beginning I “saved” myself by talking about working in another country instead of working in my industry. Something I was convinced about was great and fulfilling. But, years after years, it was not enough. I love talking to people and inspire them, it gives me great joy. But the sad truth was, I couldn’t do it anymore. I was deadly bored with my job, had no purpose, did not feel what I was doing was exceptional anymore. When asked, I would jokingly say “I’m in for the money”… But that wasn’t that true.
In whatever you do, there should be 1. a simple reason to it, and 2. a simple reason to explain it so that even an 8 years old could understand. And both are related. The 8-year old wants to be a nurse, a fireman, a cosmonaut, a veterinary… because it has a purpose.
You may think “my job is too complicated, it’s full of figures, economic concepts, and so on… How could an 8 years old even understand?” In that case, you are the one, who does not get what you’re doing, and why. Take corporate banking for instance. It can be simply explained by the following: “I am helping gather money from people, who do not need it right now, to help other people, who need it now to build great things.” Simple, isn’t it? Some of my colleagues are truly invested with this purpose, and that makes them great bankers. The bests. It got me going for a while but I had to be honest with myself, I was different and it wasn’t the thing that could get me fulfilled.
In the end, there are great odds that you’re in your job because you’re scared to move out. You feel mildly comfortable in a situation where good money is being transferred to your account every month, you have a nice apartment, an interesting life outside your work (though maybe a little bit too much of drinking to forget about the compromise?), good friends, good love, a job that has become easy for you and still has some sparkles to some. You may also be afraid to throw it all away and be considered by other people as a failure, someone who had it all and acted like a brat on an impulse?
You can prove them wrong, and even better, you can inspire them.
Turns out that most people, who will throw you the stone if you do something they call “crazy” - the ones that look at you and wait for the every moments you’ll make a wrong move - to laugh at you and push you well further down the hole, are the ones that CRAVE to do just like you.
Do what you think is impossible, first some will throw stones at you, and then there is a high chance they’ll do the same. Don’t stay in a situation where you’re feeling empty. Every day, going to the office and knowing you will spend 8-9 hours in average doing work that could be finished in just 3 or 4 with a little bit of efficiency, just because you’re now good at it and you’re basically forced to become a slacker just to do you’re expected time, enduring the heavy bureaucracy, the stress and grumpiness of colleagues for something you do not even believe in… It’s a soul killer and in no way something you can inspire anybody with.
But first, you have to be a little risk averse and prepare for the jump. Don’t quit on an impulse (or on a grumpy day or, worse, having a hard hangover), prepare your exit. Work on yourself.
1) Read, get inspired, make plans, start some actions. No time? Make some. Chances are you’re too bored at your job to be efficient; then become efficient again and use those gained hours in the office to work on yourself and your project. You feel guilty doing so in the office? Don’t. As long as you are being discrete about it and you still do what’s expected from you it’ll go just fine. And the bonus is, your employer, your teammates may actually gain from it. That’s what happened to me. Being so enthusiastic about working on my projects and passions, I gained efficiency, and my work wasn’t that boring again after all. Having my mind on “active mode” all day long, I was even more creative in my job. And the last but not the least: I was in a good mood. Doing something that interests and energizes you makes you nicer, it kills the frustration out of your working day. Try it.
2) Start doing some inspiring things outside your work, especially things you believe you cannot do. It’s important to prove yourself wrong before doing the same with others. Consider the impossible, do something you find awesome but don’t dare doing. You love cinema’s kung-fu moves, register to karate or a kickboxing class for instance. You love singing but never considered it as a potential hobby? Go to a class, one-to-one in preference, sing what you really like. Allow the possibility to surprise yourself. Choose good teachers, not the bests in town with the most credentials, the ones that motivate you and make you better at what you’re doing.
And, that’s important, be your own comparison point, don’t compete. There is a difference between being inspired by someone and competing with someone. To some extent, competition car create inspiration, but the processes are different. You are inspired by great people like Warren Buffet, Madonna, Gandhi, whomever. Does it mean you are going to compete with them? No. Whether in your activities or in business, there will always be people that are better than you in some or more aspects. Focus on getting better yourself, not better or even as good than others. Keep improving.
You don’t have to start on your own to already inspire people. Whenever you achieve something that sounded impossible to you, talk about it. Talk about the great things you do around you, but stay humble, don’t hide the failures or the occasional “damn I suck at everything” phases, they’re part of the process and without it you’re just bragging. People around you should be able to understand that they, too, can do it.
P.S. Fun Fact: a few days after I learned a friend did reach the 4096 tile at the 2048 game, I reached it.
How? Well I first thought it was impossible or too complicated for me. But, learning that my friend could do it, I was inspired. If he could, why wouldn’t I? It allowed me to develop a good technique to reach the goal.
And, guess what, it gets better: I’d got it wrong in the first place, my friend was trying to reach the tile and in fact did not reach it yet! Pretty funny right? It inspired me even further to reach the 8192 tile and more! (And then I stopped because it was taking me too much time being unproductive and I already made my point ;) )
That simple example shows how other people’s experience can inspire some to go over their boarders and improve. Do the same, get inspired, and inspire yourself.
(If you’ve never tried this game don’t even start. It’s addictive and a time killer before all)