There’s no getting around the fact that attitude drives success at work, starting with how you view your job. Yale researcher Amy Wrzesniewski studies how our mental conceptions of work impacts performance. She found that people fall into one of three broad categories in terms of how they defined their work: a job, a career, or a calling. The “job folks” view work as only a means to an end – it’s all about paying the bills. Those with a “career orientation”are more likely to be focused on success and looking for long term advancement, but ultimately still view work as a means to an end. The final group, with the “calling orientation,” tend to love their work for the sake of the work itself, not just because of the external rewards.
Wrzesniewski’s research found that in one sample of administrative assistants, the group divided out almost evenly into one of these three categories, despite the similar nature of their work. She has found doctors who view their work simply as a job and front line employees who view their work as a calling. The key finding in her research is that our attitude about the nature of our work affects performance: those people who view their work as a calling tend to be happier, more fulfilled, and experience greater success in the workplace.
There’s a chicken and egg relationship with all this: Everyone has the power to choose their attitude about their work, but the flip side is that if we create workplaces that are fun, creative and inspiring, and continually foster a strong sense of community and purpose in everyone’s work, then it’s far more likely that more and more employees will transfer out of their “job” and step into a whole new mindset.
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