Imagine that your boss goes away for a few days. You’ve been working soooo hard, and now, finally, you’re free from the pressure of your employers.
You still come into work, of course. You still sit at the same desk. You still drink the same coffee and eat at the same time. But how have you changed?
Do you still bring the same energy, seize the same opportunities, work just as hard as before? Or do you find ways to cut corners and slack off because, you know, who’s gonna know?
Only you can truthfully answer these questions.
At the end of each day, you can convince yourself that you worked soooo hard, can convince yourself that you’ve contributed soooo much. And maybe you have. Only you know.
And the best indicator of who you are for real is who you are when no one is looking. Character is revealed when no one is watching.
Researchers are learning more all the time about the importance of feeling progress toward our workplace goals. It’s called the Progress Principle, and it’s fast becoming a big part of the conversation about employee engagement. In fact, the Harvard Business Reviews research shows it is the most important motivator.
Multiple studies have shown that a feeling of progress in our work is at or near the top in motivation—way ahead of traditional incentives like raises and bonuses.
But not everyone is paying attention. In a survey that asked managers to rank five employee motivators, the feeling of progress came in dead last.
Let your competition pour money into more expensive motivators. A feeling of progress costs little or nothing. Break large projects into smaller benchmarks, and celebrate each step as it’s achieved. It’s as simple as that.
It’s yet another opportunity for those who are paying attention to pull ahead of the pack.
One of the kids takes a hard hit and is lying on the ground. The coach runs over, sees that she’s not seriously hurt, then says the mantra of coaches everywhere: “Shake it off.”
At first that might sound harsh, but it’s actually great practice for life. If you’re too hurt to play on, you’ll be helped off the field and cared for, no problem. But if you’re well enough to play on, even though it hurts a bit and the wind has been knocked out of you, the best thing to do is shake it off and get back in the game.
Whether in sports or business, winners know that to win, you have to play hard. And when you play hard, you WILL get hurt once in a while.
Failures and mistakes are common and necessary. Winners know how to shake it off, get back on their feet, and move on from failure, quickly adjusting course without wallowing in the bruises to their egos.
The next time you find yourself momentarily on your back, ask yourself—How bad is it really? Do I need to be helped off the field? Or can I shake it off, take a deep breath, and get back into the game?
The ones who get back in the game are the ones who win. Be that winner.