Does my job tap into my intrinsic motivations (things I loved as a kid or would do for free?)
Does my job give me a reasonable amount of autonomy?
Am I challenged regularly to the extent of my abilities?
Do my work environment, -organization, and coworkers encourage my best work?
If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, what can I change? In the next week? In the next year?
Can I create the right job within my organization? Another organization? Or will I need to go out on my own?
“If you’re pretty sure you are in the fight job,” she adds, “then try asking [and answering] this question:
If someone offered me a windfall to never do the “stuff” of my [current] work again, how would I feel about that?
* * *
Tom Rath and Jim Harter’s recently published Well-Being: The Five Essential Elements also offers some rock-solid observations and recommendations to those who cannot as yet proclaim, to paraphrase Teresa Amabile’s brilliant insight, “I do what I love and I love what I do.”
Last night, I presented my synopsis of Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman. It was a large, opinionated, animated group. The conversations were passionate, and the whole evening really was quite a learning experience.
He observed that Collapse is a book with real implications for the whole oil usage/crisis question. I think he is right.
The message of Collapse: How Societies Chose to Fail or Succeed, written by Pulitzer winner Jared Diamond, is that culture after culture throughout history has “collapsed,” many because they lived only for the day and did not make the right choices for tomorrow. They “used up” what they had, foolishly – tragically. But, because it was then and not now, their collapse was an isolated collapse.
We now are too connected to “collapse” all by ourselves. Diamond wrote:
“Globalization makes it impossible for modern societies to collapse in isolation… Any society in turmoil today, no matter how remote, can cause trouble for prosperous societies on other continents, and is also subject to their influence (whether helpful or destabilizing). For the first time in history, we face the risk of global decline. But we are also the first to enjoy the opportunity of learning quickly from developments in societies anywhere in the world today, and from what has unfolded in societies at any time in the past. That’s why I wrote this book.”
He tells the stories of a number of “collapses,” including modern day Montana, and Easter Island, and the Norse in Greenland, and others.
Diamond presents a five point framework for collapse:
1) Environmental damage.
2) Climate change
3) Hostile neighbors
4) Friendly trade partners
5) The society’s response to its environmental problems
And he asks this perplexing question:
“ How could a society fail to have seen the dangers that seem so clear to us in retrospect?”
(or – “what were Easter Islanders saying as they cut down the last tree on their island?”)
I think the participant was correct. It’s a good time to take another, very close look at Collapse.
For a quick read of just one of the stories in Collapse, check out Malcolm Gladwell’s The Vanishing for The New Yorker, his retelling, from the book, of the collapse of the Norse in Greenland. Cultural snobbery was one of the reasons they collapsed. Here’s Gladwell’s concluding paragraph:
When archeologists looked through the ruins of the Western Settlement, they found plenty of the big wooden objects that were so valuable in Greenland—crucifixes, bowls, furniture, doors, roof timbers—which meant that the end came too quickly for anyone to do any scavenging. And, when the archeologists looked at the animal bones left in the debris, they found the bones of newborn calves, meaning that the Norse, in that final winter, had given up on the future. They found toe bones from cows, equal to the number of cow spaces in the barn, meaning that the Norse ate their cattle down to the hoofs, and they found the bones of dogs covered with knife marks, meaning that, in the end, they had to eat their pets. But not fish bones, of course. Right up until they starved to death, the Norse never lost sight of what they stood for.
After a lengthy investigation of the landing of US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River sixteen months ago, the National Transportation Safety Board made 33 recommendations for safety improvements. All are sensible and do-able.
Although the plane’s crew members were praised for their composure while following directions, the Board noted that Flight 1549’s engines were “damaged beyond hope” and thus could not be restarted, as per the checklist in such a situation. The experts who testified called for cockpit instruments that would give more detailed information to pilots on the condition of their engines and also recommended new checklists based on low altitude engine failure; the one the US Airways pilots (i.e. captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III and first officer Jeffrey B. Skiles) had was for high-altitude failure, in which case more time would have been available during the descent.
Here’s my take: Every checklist must be a work-in-progress. Why? Because those with decision-making responsibilities change. Circumstances change such as technology and information change. Also, laws, rules, and regulations change.
Therefore, reviewing, evaluating, and updating checklists should be continuous. The single best source of information and advice on the subject is Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.