Find the Meaning in the Menial


We all have parts of our jobs that aren’t fun. But even a task we don’t like can be meaningful if you search for it. Try this exercise:

Think about an activity that you don’t always enjoy doing — delivering performance reviews, for example. Now ask yourself why you do it, but ask four times.

  1. The first time you ask “Why do I do this?” you might answer, “Because I have to” or “I want to let my people know where they stand.”

  2. The second time: “Why do I want to let my people know where they stand?” The answer here might not be inspiring: “Because it’s part of my job.” But the answer might also start to sound more meaningful: “So that people can know how they can reach their career goals.”

  3. Then ask a third time: “Why do I care if people know how to reach their career goals?” Continue for one more iteration.

  4. By the fourth round, you’re likely to uncover a meaningful reason behind the activity — and a motivation for doing it well.

You spend your days motivating your team. Explain reasoning to yourself too!