Have you ever been pulled from a project or the project ended abruptly, leaving you feeling empty?
It’s a terrible feeling. I was pulled from a big project I spent months of my time working on. Then the CEO wanted to put me in a different department. Just like that my work felt like it went up in smoke. I didn’t even try to argue with her to let me stay on the project. I felt weak. Defeated I gave up on my job, my career, and it took me awhile to get back my passion. Too long.
Getting back to basics.
Dan Ariely did a study that was focused on understanding why people enjoyed or didn’t enjoy their work.He asked two different groups of people to build a Lego character. He would pay them $3 to assemble the first one. He would take the Lego Character and put it under the table then ask them if they wanted to build another character, but this time for $2.70.
He calls it the meaningful condition.
Then he created another test that was set up the same way, plus payment, except for one condition. The Lego character was destroyed right before their eyes and they were asked to build it again. Their payment was also reduced by 30 cents after each model was taken and destroyed.
He called it the Sisyphus condition from the Greek myth where he was punished for chronic deceitfulness and forced to spend an eternity to push a boulder up a hill only to have it fall back down right before he reached the top.
What ended up happening was that people in the first experiment would build 11 figures vs only 7 in the 2nd test.
Both groups of people knew that their character would eventually be destroyed, but the first group stuck it out because their hard work wasn’t destroyed right before their eyes.
Watch the TED talk below.
The interesting part of this experiment shows the importance of feeling that your work is for a larger purpose. The more trivial it feels the more we disconnect from the results.
Staying connected to why you do your work and your motivation will never be an issue.
What do you think you could do as a leader to help people see the purpose behind their work?