Global Village Idiot: 1,001 secrets to an engaged work life!

To become a rock star in anything requires a classical pianist’s equivalent of formative years of practice. Practice at all levels, all the time
Even people who say they like to work, don’t really like to work. Because? Well, because work is work. It is hard. It is repetitive. It becomes boring after the novelty wears off. (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)
Even people who say they like to work, don’t really like to work. Because? Well, because work is work. It is hard. It is repetitive. It becomes boring after the novelty wears off. (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)
Published on May 20, 2022 04:32 PM IST
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BySanjay Mukherjee

The preconceived notion is the reason for success and failure depending on what one sets out to do. I meet many people during a typical day. And generally, I go months without seeing a person who has not already made up their mind regarding the answers they are seeking.

And I sometimes go years without seeing a preconceived notion lead to eventual success. In fact, more often than not it is the notion itself or the lack of persistence that leads to failure.

Of late, I seem to be meeting quite a few people in India who are giving up jobs to start ventures. Am also meeting a very large number of people who are job-hopping or simply quitting and taking to art or craft to find themselves.

Which is great. It shows that the country is in an age when people are ready to take risks, and do different things.

But then, am also meeting a troublingly large number of people who, having quit jobs and having started ventures, are also trying to get back into jobs because things are not working out. There are also others who are just up and quitting job after job because “environment is not right” or “managers are incompetent” or “there is no company culture” or “benefits are not right” or “there is no flexibility”, or “there is too much flexibility” or ‘there is not enough challenge”.

Having been a very adroit seeker and leaver of jobs for the first nine years of my working life, I thought a few two-bits might help someone construct a method to the madness.

So, here’s what I think is a super secret: no one likes to work. Even people who say they like to work, don’t really like to work. Because? Well, because work is work. It is hard. It is repetitive. It becomes boring after the novelty wears off. And guess what? To become a rock star in anything requires a classical pianist’s equivalent of formative years of practice. Practice at all levels, all the time. And - here’s the performance elixir-once you learn to put in the hours, you can put in the hours come rain, shine, hell, or high-water. What is otherwise called “being in the zone”. If you don’t put in the hours, you will be playing air guitar all your life.

The reality is that nobody wants to do their job, their bit in moving the world along. Everyone wants to solve the bigger problems, to be a part of the exciting conversations, to be involved in stuff that isn’t their responsibility. Do you know why? Because the average human being doesn’t find their own work exciting.

So: Work is work. It is hard. And you have to grind it out. Every day. And this is true even for work you lovvvvvve doing. The love bit is supposed to make it easier to do what is required to make it work. Supposed to, but eventually what gets you to get up and do what needs to be done is habit. And that comes from? Practice rain or shine.

Now, that we have that out of the way, it is important to decide whether you want to be good at something or great at something or are fine with doing enough to just get by. By the way, those correspond to the three classic performance evaluators - HR terminology differs from place to place. And here’s the rub, whether I am building skills or developing competencies, there’s no escaping the cycle of continuous self-evaluation to assess where I am on the scale of progress towards mastery. Without mastery, I can wade out into the choppy waters of being self-employed or consulting without a paddle or a tube, but am not too sure how long the swim may last.

Yes, mastery is equally important to be an employee. Or entrepreneur. Or… well, level of proficiency is a matter separate from mode of engagement and it has an even greater importance if you are self-employed.

After you have picked what you want, take the first step and start working.

Along the way if you want to change to something else, remember, for every new endeavour: You go back to step 1: Work is work. It is hard.

So, that was No. 1 of the Secrets of an Engaged Work Life.

The remaining 1,000 secrets do not exist and while one can - and often we do - make them up, No. 1 is the one from whence there is no escape and therefore that is from where all else flows.

So, that’s my utterly useless two-bits, which in a different time was expressed by a single word that has been lost to us through time: Perseverance.

Coming up next: The Secret to Self-Employment

Sanjay Mukherjee, author, learning-tech designer and management consultant, is founder of Mountain Walker and chief strategy advisor, Peak Pacific. He can be reached at thebengali@icloud.com

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