NHS workers are magnificent [Full stop].
Their heroism is causing some people far away from the front line of the fight against Covid-19 to ask, “Does my work really matter?” and many feel they come up short.
I’m a PR guy; I could easily jump to the same conclusion. But the Harvard Business Review has published a brilliant, deceptively simple exercise that can lead to a refreshing change in perspective:
Ask yourself why what you're doing right now matters, and follow the reasoning chain to the end. It's well worth ten minutes of your time.
Here’s how it might look for me, right now.
Q: Why am I writing this article?
A: To hopefully influence a small number of people to find a real sense of purpose in their work.
Q: Why does it matter if this small number of people work find a real sense of purpose in their work?
A: So they strive to do consistently better work.
Q: Why does it matter if these people strive to do consistently better work?
A: Effective communication is the interface between collective groups and individuals. Without it there is no marketplace for products, services or ideas; no economy and no tax revenues which (among other things) fund the NHS!
So there we have it, I'm doing my best work because I love it, but also to power the economy and save lives.
What are you working for?
Analyzing decision-making at NASA during the 1960s, Wharton professor Andrew Carton found that similar steps helped employees see a stronger connection between their work and NASA’s ultimate aspirations: “I’m building electrical circuits” or “I’m mopping floors” becomes “I’m putting a man on the moon.” The more we think about why we’re performing a task, the more motivated and persistent we’ll be — especially when the task becomes hard. And as Carton found in his studies of NASA, this sense of purpose also boosted employees’ coordination and collective enthusiasm