Occasionally, I re-realize things that send shock waves through my life. Generally this happens after a bit of struggle and strife and when the shining moment comes for the pertinent message to penetrate my thick skull, I am astonished. And then, the more I think about it, the less astonished I am at the actual notion and the more shocked I am that I forgot this lesson in the first place.
My most recent realization? Humans need their actions to feel meaningful in order for them to be motivated.
I know. Duh.
Author Dan Ariely puts it so well in his book The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home. He conducted experiments to determine whether people will continue to be motivated to complete tasks they knew were meaningless even if they were paid to do so. Not surprisingly, he discovered that the interest level falls off sharply when the work is disregarded or set aside without acknowledgement. Somewhat surprisingly, he noted that even the slightest form of acknowledgement (looking over the page of work and nodding your head before setting it aside) was enough to keep most people going for a long time despite the fact that they were paid the same amount as those whose work was not acknowledged.
This was a beautiful reminder…something that I can pay more attention to, TODAY! Thank you for sharing..I look forward to hearing more from you.
I agree our actions would be gladly repeated once they felt fulfilling to us. And how can we be sure of it? Sometimes other people are caught way deeply in their own stories, they don't even remember we would like some acknowledgement… Maybe we should just confirm that by asking ourselves, "What if I had not done this?" I am sure your long research is not meaningless, you just haven't found the right ears to listen to it; but ask those individuals that participated in it, and I bet each one of them will share they at least felt important in that moment; and that alone should mean much.
Thank you for sharing your words, your love, your being!
I agree with you. As a teacher and a mom, making my children feel valued and worthy is not only my most important task, but also the highlight of the day. And when they feel value, they impart value to me.
A good friend of mine for over 30 years is excellent at this, and it's so noticeable that I have strived to be more like her. She is a first grade teacher, and naturally, has amazing results!
How did you get so wise?
Hi Kario, I'm so glad I decided to read "just one more blog" tonight. I'm super exhausted, but your writing smacked me upside the head! I was especially taken with these words regarding your daughter and meaningless work, "I wonder if we could find some way to help them understand the context of their school work and help them feel as though the assignments they are completing are important in some way, whether they would perform even better."
As a teacher who really tries to make work meaningful, I tend to fall short in the praise department. I really thought about that as I read your blog tonight. I need to verbalize more often the great job kids are doing, instead of wanting them to do more.
I hate meaningless work myself, and I refuse to assign busywork for homework or class assignments, but I don't always clearly explain to the kids the reasons for the work I do assign. You've made me think about that deeply tonight.
Thanks again for writing a meaningful post!
I have experienced all you discuss here and am in complete agreement with you. Not long ago, as I struggled with the disaster of having lost months of work on a new web site and having to start over, and recognizing what a tiny readership I have accrued over several years of writing, I considered giving it all up. Simply not writing any longer.
Then, out of the blue, a family member whose life would be better if I spent less time writing and more time earning a living so that I could be of more use to her financially, told me that my work is "vitally" important, that I must continue to do it, and why she thought so. I mean, she got specific. And as I said, her comments came right out of the blue. I had not shared my concerns with her.
That single comment, after years of sitting at this computer alone night after night and now, day after day, gave me the courage to continue.
So let me just say again, as I have so many times before, Kario, that you are doing important work. I know you weren't fishing when you wrote this piece. I know it came from a much deeper place. I say this now because I want to stress how important your work is. I haven't seen your book, but I encourage you to continue to send it out to publishers.
I recall a radio interview with Judith Guest, who wrote Ordinary People, years ago. She said she submitted her book more than 300 times before it was accepted–over the transom–for publication.
Of course, today we don't have 300 publishers to whom we can send our works, but I encourage you to keep sending that book out. Keep looking for an agent, a publisher, anyone who will read it.