Question: Are you clear and honest about your motivations in everything you do? More and more often I come across people who are existing, not living. They complete tasks, play the game and scrap through the day only to feel unfulfilled, under appreciated and empty. And what I've figured out is that most people are flying blind. No real plan. Going along with the crowd. Doing just enough to get by. And becoming more and more miserable by the day.
One of the main tenets I teach in my classes and especially in my one-on-one coaching sessions is: Identify and get clear on the objective and work backward from there.
I find that when we're clear on the objective it gives us a North Star, something very specific to aspire to. Once we're clear on exactly what we want to accomplish then it's easy to work backward and put specific steps in place to accomplish the objective. That type of clarity creates the confidence and motivation we need to achieve the objective and not be distracted by anything that doesn't support it.
I approach my role in power. I figured out after decades of simply completing tasks on time that my voice was never represented. I'm analytical. I love to poke holes in established theories, especially if I'm convinced they're tired and no longer serve the greater good. I want the people I support to be better, the team to be faster and more agile, and production to be twice as efficient so that I can take my ass home at a normal hour and actually enjoy my life! That's my true motivation.
I adopted an entrepreneurial mindset that allows me the confidence to identify and verify an objective with everyone in the room and put the steps together to knock it out in record time. And, most importantly, hold people accountable to it. Often, I'm that guy who will raise his hand in a meeting, unabashedly, and ask the question, "How does this support the objective that we ALL agreed to?" Yes, I piss people off. Yes, some feel that I'm calling them out or trying to run the show. Those are the people who've lost sight of the objective themselves, likely in favor or trying to "look good" to their peers or have become emotional, not tactical. And, in all frankness, I don't care.
Here's the thing. I don't know about you, but I don't like my time wasted. When I walk through the door, I've likely already reviewed and recommitted to the objectives outlined by leadership, put the steps together to achieve my individual responsibilities to those objectives, and prepared myself mentally to defend them if I feel they're being sidetracked by BS or a bunch of tasks that make no sense. Often we settle into a pattern of just getting the work done instead of looking for new paths to the solution, identifying new efficiencies, or simply having the courage that raise our hand and ask, "Is this necessary?" and backing it up with sound evidence as to why it's (probably) not.
It's a real fear. I get it. The last thing we want to be labeled as is "a troublemaker." But that's the worker mentality I often speak of. Staying within your lane even when you know something's not right. Not having the courage to ask a few crunchy but clarifying questions to hold people accountable to the objectives they'd set. I believe this fear often comes from dealing with bad managers or people with the title having zero management skill who are masking their own insecurities with the "shut up and do it" attitudes still pervasive at certain levels of the org. But it's still up to you circumnavigate this fear in favor of helping to keep people focused on the objective. This isn't emotional. You're not getting paid for that. You are, however, getting paid to do your job which includes speaking up when things are clearly going off the rails.
Get out of worker mentality. It's a dangerous and slippery slope that can consume you, follow you around for decades, and keep you from achieving your personal and professional goals. Instead, work on changing your mindset and how you approach your role. Here are a few tips that can help you achieve this with surprisingly quick results.
1. Have a North Star. Don't work blindly. Stop creating or falling victim to arbitrary ToDo lists. Instead, make sure you have a clearly defined objective, either set by leadership or by your supervisor, and put very specific steps in place to achieve it. What you'll find is that you'll start identifying clear paths to achieve it and can often chime in to help course correct the team when things start to go awry.
2. Get over the fear of being fired. The one thing we have is our voice. Never, in the history of ever, should we allow that to be squelched by anyone, especially ourselves. By reminding people of the objective and questioning anything clearly not in support of it, we often help leadership and our teams refocus or even reconsider the objectives they've set. We tend to withhold feedback, especially if we have bad managers, for fear of ultimately losing our jobs. And that's sad. I'd much rather leave a company expressing my truth than work oppressed and unable to simply raise my hand and say something when things go off the rails. If a company or manager fires you because you're trying to help them stay on task and hold them to the objectives they'd set, flash double bananas and go find yourself a new company who will celebrate and appreciate your efforts. The market's on fire. Don't waste even another moment being oppressed into unhappiness. That's not why you wake up every day.
3. Be here to shine. Get extremely clear on what it is you want to achieve in your role. And review it every single day before you head to work. Our motivation should not be to simply do a good job. It should be to excel in our roles, help the team excel, and be recognized for our achievements in the compensation we receive. Kinda simple, really. By getting clear on the objectives, putting the plan in place, and executing with focus and confidence, we can achieve anything we set our minds to. It's when we allow others to derail the process or allow our own focus to wane and silence our own voice that we fall into that dangerous worker mentality where the objective is simply to get through the day. It's a lazy and uninspiring place and should be seen as the ultimate vortex to avoid. Choose to shine. Be engaged. Raise your hand. And always bring our A game into the room with confidence, hyper preparation, and hyper focus on the objective. There's nothing sexier than someone resolute in their power, confident in their voice, and prepared to listen to understand, but defend their viewpoint even if unpopular among the laziest in the room. Know your motivations and own them.
Again, be here to shine. Banish mediocrity from your life. We all know when our motivation wanes or we put out work that's just decent. By doing so, we set a subconscious bar that normalizes this behavior. And, over time, we actually start self-sabotaging, become less and less motivated and fall into the dreaded worker mentality. If you feel like you're falling into this abyss, extract yourself today. Take a step back and look at where you are in your role right now. Then, think back to your first day on the job and what your motivations and hopes were then. If there is a chasm wide enough to send a cruise ship through, then you've got some work to do.
Get clear. Get honest. Find your voice. Find your North Star. THEN, get to work...and shine!
Phoenix is coaching and supporting American billionaires, CEOs and executive teams in tech, retail and banking for over 25 years. He also founded and created MEGA Assistant University, a revolutionary skills and mindset “boot camp” for top Executive and Personal Assistants who want to level up quickly and begin forging a mutually successful business partnership with their executives and teams. Phoenix holds a Bachelors of Arts in European Studies/Civilisation from Trinity College Dublin.