By the definition of summer that is familiar to any school-aged child, anywhere – the time between the last day of school and the first - Summer is officially over in my little neck of the woods.
My son returned to classes full-time yesterday. My wife, a teacher, has been back on the clock for almost a week. Summer 2012, which was a great one, is now finished.
Over the course of the summer, my blogging has slowed considerably. A lot of that is due to having more to do than I could handle – there were many projects that were completed this year. A big part, if not most of it, however, has to do with a simple lack of enthusiasm.
In the spring, I spent a great deal of time investigating the ROWE concept and attempting to establish a link between the management style advocated by ROWE and the Respect for People principle found in Lean and Operational Excellence. After engaging Lean guru Mark Graban in a conversation with ROWE creators Jodi Thompson and Cali Ressler, it was clear that ROWE – which I had once felt a great deal of enthusiasm for – was a limited approach whose central tenets were really just a part of “true” Lean, anyway. It left me feeling a little discouraged.
In the spring, I interviewed for a job that I was very interested in – an interesting company culture with an interesting product, quite lucrative, and a big step up in responsibility. Unfortunately, I did not get invited to the second round of interviews. This left me even more demoralized. I felt that if, after more than a year since I finished my part-time MBA, 2 years of blogging to build up a network of contacts, and an awful lot of time spent contemplating, and commenting on, the world of work, I still could not land a more interesting and better-paying job, then what in the hell am I doing this all for?
After those setbacks, which seem minor now that time has created some distance, I was simply demoralized. With the return of fall, there is a return to routine, which has me feeling confident once again – and so I find myself eager to write posts like this for the blog.
Which has made me completely internalize something that I had, previously, only understood as a matter of intuition and the results of some logic exercise – that actively keeping up a person’s sense of pride, confidence and – most importantly - his/her sense of purpose - yields that thing all management gurus covet: engagement.
Projects that yield nothing of value, product ideas that are non-starters, subordinate support organizations that add more burden than honest support, and any other poor, suboptimal, disrespectful activity serve only to stifle and limit creativity and production. No one wants to work hard at something they believe will fail, and no amount of yelling, cajoling, threatening or bribing will ever change that for very long. Why? Because people have a natural, innate sense of what is valuable, even if they can’t express it, and no one can be genuinely enthusiastic over doing something pointless.
Which brings me to another point: Why, if I’d lost my enthusiasm, did I keep blogging at all? Why not simply walk away? Because persistence matters. Sometimes, in the face of difficulty, you simply have to soldier on and wait for something better to come along. More on that one soon…….