A motivated employee typically finds enjoyment when their job provides challenge and a realistic opportunity to achieve new heights. Unfortunately, too many people are stretched to the point of exhaustion. When challenges present too big of a stretch, a motivated employee turns into an exhausted employee. On the other hand, boredom and mindless routine can be very de-motivating leading to low productivity and worker dissatisfaction.

One key to employee motivation is to provide them with appropriate challenges that are congruent with their intrinsic motivations. These challenges need must fit the competencies of the person, utilizing the appropriate resources, and given enough autonomy to get it done.

The foundational concept is intrinsic motivation, or doing what a person is “hard-wired” to do. Without this alignment, stretches feel like leaps and motivated efforts become efforts to endure.

This is the fourth blog on a series of fatigue and I want to illustrate the point I made in my last blog. I conclude that much of our fatigue is attributable to lifestyle patterns that are not congruent with our intrinsic motivations. Without this alignment, we will never be able to make the contributions we are capable of achieving or enjoy the rewards of a job well done.

I recently enjoyed a conversation with a paramedic who worked for a local fire department. It was a paid position he tested into from firefighter with the hopes of future advancement. He had been performing the job successfully for several years, but was recently experiencing more fatigue. His situation did not provide for the possibility of transferring out of the paramedic unit in the foreseeable future.

We discussed his situation for quite some time. His shift was busy and lack of sleep was obviously a contributing factor inherent with the job. However, I sensed that this was not the whole story. I inquired further into his situation by asking questions seeking to view it based upon how he was intrinsically motivated. My theory was that he was functioning out of a way he was not intrinsically motivated.

He loved the fire department and appreciated the camaraderie, the routines, and the fact that he could roll up his proverbial sleeves and help other people. What he found draining was the human drama. He just wanted to fix their problem, not empathize with their pain. The fact that he found himself comforting the victims was in turn wearing him out. As I explained this possibility to him, his eyes lit up as his mind registered the difference between the two parts of his job. With this new awareness, we discussed some strategies to address his fatigue.

I share this story to illustrate the point that if we know and understand our intrinsic motivations, we can break our job down into its functional parts to identify what motivates us and the parts that de-motivate and fatigue us.

What parts of your job do you dread? How does it demotivate you?

Stretched to the Point of Exhaustion
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