In a recent article for Forbes, contributor, Joseph Folkman, shares how a well-communicated vision can truly inspire employees. To make his point, Folkman tells the story of a woman who was working at home one evening, when her husband’s friend came by to visit him.
During the conversation with the woman’s husband, the friend kept noticing how deeply entrenched the woman was in her work. Curious and perplexed, the friend finally asked her, “For heaven’s sake, what are you doing working so hard this late in the evening?”
The woman looked up, with a tinge of annoyance in her voice and answered, “I’m trying to cure cancer!”
Here’s what’s interesting. The woman is not a molecular biologist. In fact, she doesn't work in the laboratory or out in the field where product trials are being run. The woman, it turns out, is an HR executive for a company whose vision is to cure cancer. But, as Folkman points out, “She saw a clear connection between the work that she was doing and the strategy and vision of the company.”
Do you and your people feel this way about your company’s vision? How about the way you feel about your own personal vision? Research has found that employees who don’t find their company’s vision to be personally meaningful have average engagement scores of only 16 percent.
Personal vision-casting and goal setting can yield similar results if the goals we set are not truly meaningful to us. So, what’s the key to crafting a vision that truly motivates us?
As we’ve described in past blogs and in our book Thriving in Business and Life, get clear about what truly lights you up? This begins with identifying values that are truly your values vs. ones that you borrowed from your family or social circles. Next, examine your activities and think of ways to infuse your values into the various moments, meetings, and interactions you have in your day.
Another important step is to connect your job role to the overall vision and success of the company. How does your role fits into the bigger picture? If you can’t see the connection, find out . . . ask around. Make sure you make it your job to figure out how what you do not only makes a difference for the company, but how it can align with what matters to you as well.
The same applies to your own goals. As you craft them, if they happen to be necessary but not particularly inspiring, find a connection. How can achieving your goal keep you on track or in alignment with things that truly do matter to you? Then allow that deeper purpose to provide the reason for staying engaged.
Here’s another valuable component for staying on track. Take time—even for 30 seconds, at the start of your day or a times when your motivation wanes—to close your eyes, take a deep breath and let it out and then allow yourself to enjoy the sense of satisfaction, passion, and enjoyment you’ll feel when you’re your goal or project or your next important step is completed. Allow yourself to smile, even for a few seconds as you contemplate this future-present feeling.
By taking these short, realignment breaks and learning to increase your ability to connect with and feel your own deeper purpose, you can literally change your brain state and your biochemistry (the breathing and smiling are important components of that process).
Then, as you re-engage in your day-to-day work, keep breathing consciously from time to time and imagine yourself infusing your deeper values into each activity. While the activity itself may be important or even if it's mundane, it is the quality of the interior experience we create while doing the activity that feeds our soul and inspires and motivates us (and those around us) to live in a state of deeper meaning. And by time-traveling into the future and connecting with the feeling of satisfaction from having successfully completed our goal, vision, or day, it provides our unconscious mind the prompts it needs to keep working quietly in the background administering its deft, yet subtle guidance as we go.
The ability to consciously generate our own deeper feeling states and to then infuse those feelings into our experience, is a key leadership skill that’s practiced by high-performers in business, athletics, and everyday life.
Here’s you Thriving challenge for the week:
Consider the week ahead of your and ask yourself:
“Which of my own values can I infuse throughout my day?”
“How do my values connect to my company’s vision and mission?
“How will it feel when I successfully complete my project, goal, or even my day?”
Soak in that feeling and carry that with you as you pursue even your most mundane tasks.
Notice that as you become better at mastering your own inner state, your outer
circumstances will seem to conform more easily. to your intended outcome.
Will Wilkinson and Christopher Harding