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Know Why You Do It

,,,,demotivate,,,,Enoch Pratt Free Library,,,

I’ve been told that I read a lot.

I utilize my local branch of the Enoch Pratt Library. I actually frequent it. When I first moved to town, I discovered the delight of reserving a book online. Even better – when it came in, I’d get a call from someone at my branch, telling me that one of the books I reserved had come in. I was invited to pick it up and they would hold it for me for seven days. I know I frequent the library because the calls went from “Mrs. Daniels, your book is in,” to “Joni, you’ve got a couple of book waiting for you,” to “Hey girl, come get your book – see you soon.” I see the staff almost weekly and we talk about what books we are reading, what we like, what we didn’t like, and what we’ve been up to since my last visit. I read fiction, non-fiction, biographies, business books, and visit often for suggestions and to keep track of books I’ve read (If I remeber to post them into my profile.)

I own a Kindle and when I can’t get to the library, don’t want to wait for a book to come in, am going on a trip, or the lending system can’t make the book available to me, I download to my e-reader and bring it with me during the day so if I have to wait or can find some time, I’ve can pick up where I’ve left off.

I read the local newspaper, the local Business Journal, a few local business news websites, view the New York Times online, read professional journals and articles, business magazines and popular magazines that include Newsweek, the Harvard Business Review, Real Simple, Coastal Living, Training & Development, Baltimore Magazine, and when I’m looking around for something close at hand –  I peruse Sports Illustrated, Engineering New Record, National Geographic, the Urbanite, Smart CEO, The Daily Record, Fast Company and City Paper. I read a few blogs, visit some favorite web sites, and review more than a few emails. If I find myself in a waiting room without something I’m already reading, I read People, Entertainment Weekly, Time, Bazaar, Vogue, Vanity Fair, More, Glamour, Self, Cooking Light, Redbook, House & Gardens, and occasionally, my guilty pleasure – Soap Opera Digest.

I recently read an article that asked managers and executives ”Why do you do what you do?The author went on to say that it does not inspire employees if you are working to make more money or increase the stock value for shareholders.

It got me thinking about two things

One: my love of reading – where did it originate? I owe it all to Mrs. McPhail, my first grade teacher at Surrey Downs Elementary School, in Bellevue Washington. In the ‘old’ days (or at least my old days) kids went off to school with little academic preparation. I remember kindergarten as a time for learning to get along with others and follow rules, identify colors and numbers, recite the alphabet and the Pledge of Allegiance, and figure out how to tie my shoes.

On the first day of first grade, Mrs. McPhail asked if anyone could read the words she had up on the bulletin board. Most of us had no clue but someone raised their hand and read “Look, look, look. Look and see me.” I was astounded. I couldn’t figure out how they knew that but I definitely wanted to be able to crack the code.

I had the passion and the ability. In a few months I had to leave the room and join a reading group in the 6th grade classroom – a daunting task for a first grader. As an English major in college, I often had to read 20 novels in a semester so I got better at speed and retention by necessity.

I can tell you some of the reasons I love reading now. I can be transported into another world, place or time. I can learn about how people think, solve problems, or deal with challenges I have dealt with or will never in my wildest dreams have to cope with. I can expand my world and by increasing my knowledge, connect with a broader range of people (friend, colleague, or client). A beautiful turn of phrase can literally stop me – the power of words to convey more than their definition still can impress. (I wish I were so prosaic.) I can talk to others about their take on something we’ve both read – learning how we differ, how they see things, and adding another perspective that I can compare mine to.

And two – passion at work can make as big a difference as passion for non-work things like reading.

If you are lacking a purpose in your work that transcends monetary reward (for you or stockholders), it not only shows, it has a negative impact on your employees. Ask why you wanted to work at the job you have now n the first place. Find the purpose in your day and figure out how to reveal it to your employees. It may not be why they work – but sometimes working for or alongside someone with drive who brings a genuine zeal to the job can help others discover enthusiasm for their job.

Admittedly – I’m not a big fan of the books about finding your passion (and the money will come? I wish!) But I AM a big fan of being clear about your purpose (why you do things) and then putting energy and enthusiasm into it.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 at 12:21 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.