Yesterday I posted some thoughts on working and promised to post how I learned to get the most out of my job today. In short, here’s the conclusion!
Why was my manager reminded of me when reading the book? Well, the book is called “Three Signs of a Miserable Job” and the author, Patrick Lencioni, has put into fable form three reasons for misery in the workplace — Irrelevance, Immeasurement, and Anonymity. He then identifies the cures to those illnesses, and when put into practice, great things happen!
According to Lencioni, Irrelevance as a reason for job misery in an employee means this: If you feel that your job does not matter, you zone out. Quality of work quickly goes down, and it is not long before you’re feeling depressed. Why do your best when it doesn’t matter?
That was something that I struggled with during the hard times at work. I had lost my “do unto the Lord” and of course my job didn’t much matter to those around me. (Lencioni says that the mark of a good manager is one who helps his employees feel relevant.) Now of course, I had gotten highly distracted by pleasing man (or surviving) and not suffering my cross with dignity and perseverance. I needed my job to matter to someone, and I could see no one it mattered to. I could SEE no one. If only I had turned to the One I couldn’t physically see at that point… But I sat around in misery and it was only when a spark of hope returned that I remembered to bring God back into my work life. I was relevant to God, and my job mattered to Him! (I understand I’m taking Lencioni’s words a different direction and adding a spiritual tone, but this is really what it means to me.)
The second sign, Immeasurement: If you can’t measure their work, how will they know if they are doing well? Where will their motivation come from? I don’t know about you guys, but I want to do my best! I needed to know how I was doing, and how I could do better. I began measuring my work by the reactions of the people I served, whether they were coworkers or customers. Did I visibly improve somebody’s day? Did I help them to feel better? Did they feel like they mattered? All of this, I did without even realizing that it was part of Lencioni’s theory. I asked God each day to help me to be a light to others in my work, even if it just meant stepping out of my comfort zone and engaging a stranger in conversation. I asked God to give me the ability to see that one or two people that I served who needed a light. Now, I know so many “strangers” in my town and I’m reminded of the verse in Hebrews…
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
The third sign is Anonymity. Lencioni believes that people cannot be happy in their job if they are not known. Does anybody know they exist? Does anybody view them as a person with feelings, dreams, aspirations, struggles, joys, etc? Once again, I am reminded of that verse when I help others. As far as myself during that time, if I had only remembered that I am known inside and out by my Maker. He knows who I am and what my dreams are, as well as my struggles. He knows me.
Reflections on the Book and the Results of Putting it into Practice
After reading the book, I began to see why my manager was thinking of me, and she even said, “I have seen you try to get so much out of your work, aspire to more, and take initiative and responsibility without even being asked.” And I believe that’s the best form of witness to another anyway! Is that not what we are called to do? Live a life in faith and show our love and His love? I began to put Lencioni’s “signs” into practice with my coworkers and even my customers, and the change was astonishing. Now, I no longer have those “Monday Blues” and work life is so much more fulfilling. I’m learning more and more each day how to keep God involved. He’s showing me currently how to trust him with our finances and it really makes me laugh and cry at the same time.
Application to our Daily Lives
I really think that these methods can be used not only in the way that Lencioni meant for them to be used (at work for managers), but in all aspects. What if we applied them to our spiritual walks (as I learned the hard way)? What if we applied them to our daily lives with the short interactions we have with people (the cashier at the grocery store, the teller at the bank, the neighbor with which you try not to make eye contact)? What different lives we would lead…