Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Yesterday I attended an all day company meeting. It was a long day for an introvert to be in a room with 300 other people. By the end of the day I couldn't get into the solitude of my car fast enough. I appreciate all the hard work that went into the day but it is very difficult for me to sit in a crowded room, especially at a table that was mostly strangers, for an entire day. Such days seem tailor made for extroverts. We introverts sit there quietly praying for a break and hoping we are not called on to perform or speak in front of the large group. I do much better in smaller groups. Others, however, seemed to really enjoy the large group energy and action. Today, however, I am happy to be back in my normal work environment where there are familiar faces and a pleasant balance of interaction with others and solitary time in my little corner cubicle.

Almost everyone I speak with about work tends to have one thing in common. Most agree that work is mentally exhausting. The combination of demands, needs, pace, people, deadlines, and everything else that is part of a typical day tend to drain the brain and leave one lifeless by the end of the day. I used to think it was just me and that it might be related to getting older. However, age doesn't seem to have anything to do with it. The young feel the same way. It's probably a good thing to be tired at the end of an honest day's work whether it's in the factory or the office. Being tired, however, and being exhausted are two different things. When you leave work with barely enough energy to drive home and maintain minimum life support systems at the same time, that's a little more than being tired. What's the solution? I don't think it's more sleep. I think it's more about perspective. In the world of modern work, who serves who? Does work serve the needs of people or are people serving the needs of work? At its best, work should be energizing and creative. In reality, most work is boring, repetitive to the point of monotonous, and there is little opportunity for creativity. The challenge of work needs to be something other than simply getting through it. I struggle with finding meaning in much of what I do. What I find most meaningful in my workday is my interactions with people. These encounters are not always directly related to work. For the most part, though, they are life giving and I find great satisfaction in them. A new challenge for me now is having about half my staff working at home. Staying connected as to them and them to me...presents new challenges. I think most people want to find their work interesting, challenging, energizing, and satisfying. They want to bring something of themselves into what they do. How do we do that? I don't have the answers. Do you?

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