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These are trying times in workspaces, particularly in Nigeria. The economic crisis has ignited fresh fires in the workplace and the market-place. Organizations are going through various change programmes: Restructuring. Re-engineering. Right-sizing. The ‘Re’-prefix never got so busy! It’s either being done to you or you are doing it to others. I have been on both sides of the coin, and neither is comfortable.
There is increased pressure to do more with less. The pressure has produced more tension and stress. The situation worsens when the ‘workmosphere’ becomes polluted by intrigues.
How does a person thrive, and not merely survive, in trying times in the workplace? How do you stay motivated in changing or unpleasant work conditions?
One of my guiding philosophies is that what matters is not what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you. Experience is not just what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you.
I would like to share seven points, from personal experience and building on the advice proffered by Dr. John C. Maxwell in the Maxwell Leadership Bible that can help you stay motivated and thrive in trying times in the workplace. The underlying principle of the steps is that the best form of motivation is not external, but internal motivation.
1. Say a Prayer
When times of change or trying times come, pray for wisdom and guidance. Many times, we let the pressure get to us so much that we do not remember to truly pray for help. It is advisable that prayer also involves meditating upon lessons to be learnt from the trying times. In one previous experience, I felt God wanted me to learn deeper depths of humility and higher heights of patience in the workplace. I learnt new lessons and was better prepared for my next career role.
2. Have a Purpose
When all around you at work appears to be crashing, a compelling purpose would keep you going. Each time I take on a new role or changing times come, beyond the standard key KPIs, I prayerfully set a personal goal that keeps me going even when the work atmosphere becomes polluted. In a previous role, it was to help raise individual and ultimately corporate performance levels, and double the size of the business within two years. In another, it was to help prepare colleagues for a difficult period of change and keep their spirits up through a depressing time. Light shines best in darkness. Let your light so shine…
3. Chart a Path
Having established the compelling purpose, develop the road-map or plan to achieve your goals. Preparation is crucial. Even gamblers and lottery players have some kind of plan. When the workplace becomes really trying, a well-thought through plan, divided into manageable parts, increases the chances of sustaining or increasing motivation levels.
4. Work with Passion
It is not enough to plan your work; in order to thrive, you must work your plan, or in other words, put your plan to work. In difficult times, inertia can set in. That’s when you need to dip into your inner reserves. Trying times require extra doses of pro-activeness. To borrow from sporting kits giant Nike, even when you do not feel like it, strive to Just do it. Self-discipline is crucial. It’s about winning the inner game. Do what is right despite how you feel, or what others say or do. Keep going! Although one tree may not make a forest, one tree can start a forest. Strive to be the best you can be.
5. Keep clear Perspective
Through the challenges, stay focused and keep faith. Keep your head when others are losing theirs. Focus on the goals not the obstacles. Do things that refresh your mind. When my mind gets cluttered because of issues at work, I go for walks. The Scriptures, for example Psalm 37, contain great nuggets that provide encouraging perspectives through trying times in the workplace.
6. Have cheering Partners
In ordinary times, it is important to have mentors, sounding boards, sharpening irons or encouragers. It is even more critical and can be career-saving in trying times. We all go through difficult times in the workplace, and we should never feel that we are in it alone, or that no one else has gone through what we are going through. Share your concerns wisely with trustworthy people, but do not form ‘griping’ committees about the issues you face in the workplace.
7. Cultivate Patience
Don’t be like the man who prayed to God, ‘Lord, give me patience, and I need it now!’. In the workplace, stuff happens that tries our souls. Increase your capacity to be patient. Keep your spirit up. Better days ahead.
PS. This is an abridged version of an article that first appeared in Gem man magazine.
Author – Lampe Omoyele