It’s a simple question I ask at practically all of the meetings that I attend. Sure, I was invited, silently beckoned by the electronic summons, so innocuous, almost tempting. But, more often than not, it’s a time sink. It’s a meeting to talk about things, poke holes in potential action plans, and ultimately get nothing accomplished — except perhaps the scheduling of another useless gathering.
I’d like to think that as a person moves up in a company they would have more importance. In some cases that is true. They are true leaders, setting the tone of the operation, making things happen, clearing obstacles to success. But from what I have seen, it’s almost the opposite. With an elevated position, there is more noise. More obligations without action. More “steering.” What is that? “Steering.” More committees. More meetings. I could see that as you get further up the corporate ladder, you could endure hours upon hours of meetings, conference calls, contact meetings, and reviews only to look back at your day and truly not be able to concretely answer the question, “What did I accomplish today?”
Maybe I like slaying the dragons too much, putting out the fires. But it lends itself to a sense of accomplishment. It makes you feel like you’re moving the ball forward. There may be many balls, and the movement may not be great, but there’s still progress. And after listening to Marcus Buckingham talk about playing to one’s strengths, it makes sense — you should find ways to not only practice and apply your strengths everyday, but also to deliver that sense of accomplishment when the clock tells you it’s time to go.
One recent example I had was a seemingly ridiculous request that was made of a co-worker of mine. As is the norm in my workplace, it involved taking the output of another system, shuffling and repackaging it, and creating yet another periodic task to maintain. . . just in case there may be some value in it one time out of 50. The exercise was futile. Could it be done? Absolutely. Was it the best use of my co-worker’s time? Absolutely not. So, how could I make this into a positive? Go for the strengths and the interests.
Enter my love of Excel and Access. Very nerdy, yet very useful. My friend shares some of my interest in these programs, though not to the same neurotic extremes. But, it was an opportunity. An opportunity for me to practice and develop something that I enjoy and am good at, and an opportunity for her to expand her knowledge base in something that could be useful to her in the future. So, that’s the direction I’m taking it. A “teachable moment.” At least when all of this is said and done, I’d be able to provide a tangible answer to that daily question that would make the difference between slowly slogging through the parking lot, wondering how much longer I will be able to endure this to proudly strutting to my car wondering when the next time I will get to feel this will be. Big difference.