I like to think that there is a reason behind everything we do. It is true that sometimes I try harder than I should to identify the reason, and sometimes we aren’t able to see the reason until long after the activity. There is a reason why we get up in the morning; there is a reason why we go to school/work; there is a reason why we spend a given day the way we do; there is a reason why we stop and smell the roses; there is a reason for the people who come into our life; and for those with whom I serve, there is even a reason why that blue folder is in your inbox. Any meaningful involvement occurs for one of two reasons:
- We choose to add value to the “product” or enhance the experience
- We choose to benefit from the experience
If the engagement lacks meaning, it is likely because:
- We missed an opportunity to contribute or learn
- Our involvement was unnecessary
Process-oriented people are quick to inquire about the purpose of each step. We tend to make sure our involvement in the assembly of any product (physical, informational, or conceptual) is purposeful. The expectation is that we will make the product better in some way or that our involvement will make us more informed and better equipped to contribute in other forums. Years ago, I worked for an Admiral who had us start every message we generated with “The purpose of this message is to…”. Though many saw it merely as a writing style we needed to follow if we wanted to get his endorsement, some saw it as a mindset worthy of application in broader activities. Replace “message” with any of the following and see which side of the fence you are on:
- Step in the process
I have no doubt that you can come up with dozens more. The point is that anything we do, we ought to do both with and for a purpose. Too many of us are “just passing through” and unable to clearly articulate WHY we are doing something. Some don’t understand that others are counting on us to make the most effective use of their time, to add specific value in our unique way, or to help focus the group on a common objective. If you are not adding value, please consider removing yourself from the process, meeting, etc. If the process, meeting, etc. has little meaning, either make it meaningful or stop wasting the most precious resource we have…time.
Life is too short and time too precious to live it just passing through. Engage. Enhance. Create. Make it clear to all that we want, need, and benefit from your personal involvement. If you are not able to do that, please consider a better use of your/our time.
- Are you just passing through the day?
- Are products merely passing through you without any value being added?
- Are you able to explain the reason behind each task you execute?