What if now … I choose it?

In some recent DiA small group sessions, we have been exploring the importance of people being able to make progress in meaningful work. leaders remove obstaclesAnd how some of the most important work of a leader can be finding ways to get anything out of the way of this progress, so their people can move unemcumbered, towards something important, that matters to them. (See here for previous posts on ‘the progress principle’.)

One group focussed very heavily on the key word of ‘meaningful’ when exploring this concept. Said one participant, ‘I know I personally make progress in work each day, crossing lots of things off the to-do list, but now I am questioning if this progress is in ‘meaningful work’, the things that really matter to me?’

When people reflect on the really satisfying work days, they typically make progress on things that enable them to make a contribution to something important, to make progress on things they buy-in to and believe in, where there is alignment in some way to their values, to things they enjoy doing, or things that they are good at. On these days, things feel easier, we feel ‘lighter’ and ‘happier’.

In another small group, a participant asked to share a short video that he thought reflected another view on this concept. It also offered another perspective on the impact that having success in things that matter can have on our motivation levels and our ‘mood’ – of our own mood and those of others (contagion of ‘mood’.)

He shared a short 3 minute video of Andre Agassi reflecting back on his career during the 2012 Australian Open. (Thanks David K!)

We’ve copied a link to this video below.

Andre reflects back on how he felt about tennis, describing ‘Dragon’, the dreaded ball machine his father created to help Andre with his training. He talks about the impact his success or lack there of, on the tennis court, had not only on him personally, but on his father and the other members of his family. He shares how to have more success, he felt he had to work harder – and this was where he started feeding his ever-growing resentment towards tennis.

He said one day, he looked at other people and asked:

  • How connected are they?
  • Do they like what they do?
  • Do they hate what they do?
  • Have the found the reasons for what they do?

And then he found himself asking himself this question :

“What if now … for the first time…I choose it? What now if I play tennis, not for my father, not for the pressures of life, not because I have to but because I find a reason to?

So… one job of a leader is to help get the ‘stuff’ out of people’s way so they can make their own progress in meaningful work, and the other job is to help them discover the meaning in the work they do. Help them see how they are contributing, help them see where what they are doing fits. Because as Andre shares with his story – there is quite a difference between ‘I have to’ and ‘I want to’. I have to for you. I want to for me. Wanting to makes things so much easier and lighter!

Click here to watch this video.