Striving to Excel at Any Job and Any Task

Almost everyone has had the experience on a job of just not being able to get motivated. Maybe the work itself is boring or unrewarding. Maybe the boss or coworkers are toxic. Or maybe the employee is just unhappy with the way his or her career has unfolded.

This feeling of malaise isn’t just a challenge for the impacted employee, though. Employers with unmotivated staff members also suffer from poor morale, low productivity, and high turnover.

Putting Their Best Foot Forward

The good news is that a dull, dead-end job doesn’t have to mean the absence of engagement and enthusiasm. Not everyone can have a job saving lives or changing the world, but that doesn’t mean employees can’t strive to be the best at their vocation.

“In any job, there are moments that are tiring, boring, and tedious. But the idea of putting your best foot forward in your work—ganbaru—is one that is widely valued, no matter your profession,” writes Kaki Okumura in an article for Forge.

When considering what makes work enjoyable and drives engagement most, people tend to point to things like “money, status, the ability to gain valuable skills, and having a meaningful ‘why,’” writes Okumura. But, while these things are certainly important, there are other ways to find meaning, she notes.

“When we are positive towards our work—even boring work—people notice, and our attitude uplifts the spirit of those around us. Knowing that you’re doing work that is respected and uplifting to others can make any boring job better,” Okumura writes.

Striving for Ganbaru

The challenge, of course, is for managers to instill this sense of meaning, this sense of ganbaru, in their employees, and there are many simple strategies for doing so. Perhaps the best is leading by example. If a convenience store manager is visibly depressed and disengaged with her work, it’s likely that her employees will be as well.

Another strategy is to focus on recognition. Highlight, celebrate, and reward a job well done, regardless of the job. This not only builds confidence in the employee being acknowledged, but also sets a tone for the rest of the team.

Not everyone can have a career as a pop star, power broker, sports hero, travel journalist, or any number of other seemingly fulfilling vocations. Even those lucky enough to have such careers aren’t always showing up to work every day ready to conquer the world. It’s natural for any worker to feel unmotivated and disengaged in his or her job from time to time.

The key to long-term job satisfaction may lie in striving to do one’s best at whatever the assigned task is.

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