Since last few years, I have been doing a lot of work to understand human behavior. This is a quest, where a lot of people have been working for years to only get partial success. This quest took me to places and took me to one of the most interesting subjects of ‘Positive Psychology’. It is understood that most of the psychology work done by researchers have been only to counter negative part of human behavior. Much less have been done by researchers on the positive aspect of psychology. Few of the researchers who have done a great work in this field include Dr. Tal Ben Shahar whose videos motivated me to take a deeper dive into the positive aspect of human behavior to find the solutions of issues that I face every day in my work.
For a moment, I would take you to a battlefield. Soldiers, who are not so well paid and their officer too, whose salary is nowhere in line with someone sitting in corporate world have much more challenge to work upon under hostile conditions without caring about their lives. I spoke to several serving and retired military officers and none of them ever spoke about any situation where the soldiers ever asked for a salary raise or promotion before going to battle field or even coming back from there. This was inspite of the fact that most of them fought without caring about their lives. I met few soldiers in Paraplegic Rehabilitation center who have been put on a wheel chair for the rest of their lives, but never I heard from any one of them about how bad their commander or unit was. On the contrary, they all take deep pride in their past all the time.
Now let us move back to corporate world. I am one from this world where high salaries and job switching is very common. Surveys taken by Great Places to Work continue to show that a large section of employees are not happy for some or the other reason and do not take pride in what they do and have low opinion about their companies.
How can this be possible that poorly paid soldiers working under severe hostile situations are not demanding and take high pride in what they do, while the corporate world executives get far more money and benefits, but fare poorly in terms of taking pride and feeling loyal to their companies and managers.
While there are many reasons to such a phenomenon, I would like to put one major aspect of this behavior change. “Purpose & Meaning”.
Almost every soldier who fought and won, all the time spoke about the target they had to capture, enemy they had to kill and battles they had to win. They were clear about their mission and they lived and died with a purpose and clarity of meaning as to why they are doing where they were doing. Before they embarked upon their mission, their commanders ensured that their team were fully appraised of their mission, purpose and instilled with the sense of pride about their unit, the Army and their country. On the contrary, most of the corporate executives I spoke to, such a sense of meaning and purpose was either missing or not aligned to the goals of their company. While some executives were clear about their own goals and found solace that the time being spend in their current companies is helping them to learn new skills that can get them better jobs, most of them were just fighting with day to day small time mental blocks of salary increase and promotions they thought they deserve.
Over last few years, I spoke to so many people and almost in all cases saw a clear difference in the people who had a clear purpose of their job/ mission and meaning of their life were far better productive and happy than those who did not have such a clarity.
It is high time for everyone to understand this difference between failure and success and try to set their purpose in their fork and meaning of their lives. It is for sure going to help them become happier and productive.