It was difficult to ignore the sporting story of the week which drew spectators like myself to watch the wonderful sporting performances at this weekend’s Tour Championship where a revitalized Tiger Woods won his 80th PGA Title in commanding fashion taking home $1.6 million dollars in the process. After a 5 year winning drought, Woods was demonstrably focused and confident relishing every bit he return to the top of the game for golf:
“It was a grind. I loved every bit of it. The fight and the grind and the tough conditions; just to have to suck it up and make shots, I loved every bit of it.” He emoted minutes after the historic win.
This was an unlikely and some think unexpected comeback for Woods who had battled emotional, medical, and confidence issues in the recent past and it speaks to those in their personal and business lives who seek to ascend to greatness or to regain performance greatness that they once had. There are important lessons here.
Most importantly, if it were not one superstar sales person, developer, manager, or employee but your entire organization that operated with the same clarity of purpose, concentration, and confidence that was on display with Woods and the other top competitors, the sky would be the limit for what you could do. Some of this magic is within reach.
But what if you or they do nothing to get back or to challenge yourselves or organizations to be the best you can be? Sometimes you need motivation to shake out of an organizational funk. It is commonly known that many Olympic and professional athletes suffer post competition depression from having lost their purpose and feel alone with lives they deem to have little meaning given their once superstar status. Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps is a spokesperson for the United States Olympic Committee’s ACE Pivot Program, a program designed to help athletes adjust, to shake of the malaise, and to find purpose in their lives. This story has been repeated in Professional basketball with Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan and even with our country’s brave military heroes who surprisingly find a void they need to fill when they return from battle.
Simon Sinek, the top selling author of ‘Start with Why’ has proposed an interesting corollary with regard to workers and in particular millennials in today’s workforce. He suggests that just like Woods, the professional athlete, or the soldier, workers seek purpose in their professional life and if they find it, their lives are more meaningful and they make much more significant contributions to the organizations for which they work. Furthermore, he sees, as do we, that the company has a role in helping nurture this sense of purpose just as Woods’ coaches and support network did for him on his return to the podium. He proffers the notion that Purpose can be found in three critical aspects of the work life:
1. Self-Confidence being nurtured through job skills and knowing what to do at work
2. Job Satisfaction developed when one knows what they are able to and do well at their job and are acknowledged for their performance
3. Relationships built day by day in social interaction while getting important things done with and through others.
Management has a very important role to play here.
In Dan Hicks’ post-game interview with Woods, one was struck by Tiger’s adulation and appreciation for his competition and for his love, not so much of the winning but the process. If Purpose was to be measured in the terms that Sinek suggests (Self Confidence, Job Satisfaction, and Relationships), it was clear that he was fulfilling his purpose and that brought him to where he was.
Remember, golf is a game. At work, you and everyone you work with generally has the opportunity to do more for your local communities and the world at large with important contributions than most athletes. You have the opportunity to create your own success and sense of purpose if you focus on how your organization works and your part in it.
Another test for employers can be found in one of the many motivational iterations of the Herzberg 2-factor theory. Herzberg in 1959 studied a test group of accountants and engineers to examine areas of motivation. His commonly accepted ideas of intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation point to management’s role in setting conditions for success.
The basic tenets are guides we use in evaluating morale and empowerment in organizations that seek to improve the way they work. With the emotional glow of Woods’ performance as a backdrop, you might query your own organization:
Are we/you engaged in challenging work?
Do we provide sufficient recognition of achievement?
Are employees given enough responsibility to feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves and their job?
Do we provide opportunities to do truly meaningful work?
Do we listen and involve broad sections of our employee population in decision making?
Do we provide a sense of importance?
A simple company survey (have your entire organizations answer and score these statements 1-5), an honest review of the results, a look in the mirror, and some thoughtful course corrections may allow you to shake off any malaise that you may feel.
The great news is that unlike golfers and other athletes, as companies age, they don’t have to get older. If the 340 yard drive and the near perfect game were once achievable for you, they are now and they will be as long as you keep your eye on the ball and seek your own purpose. Relish the grind. Roar!
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