Is Your Heart Really In it?

Last month, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer resigned after running the company for about five years. She resigned because Verizon’s $4.48 billion acquisition of Yahoo officially closed, netting her a $23-million payout.

At a conference in London, Mayer said that one of the things she was looking forward to in her post-Yahoo life was “using Gmail again.” Presumably, as CEO of Yahoo, she had to use Yahoo Mail. She was widely criticized for the remark. In tweets sent after the story published, Mayer said she would continue to “use the excellent Yahoo Mail, too.”

Perhaps her initial comment can be chalked up to bitter grapes over the loss of her annual bonus and stock award resulting from an investigation that found two security breaches at the company were mishandled by senior executives. Who knows?

My first thought when the story broke was, “Wow, I guess her heart wasn’t really in it at Yahoo.”

Check your pulse

At work, is your heart really in it? Are you doing what you do, just because it’s a job and the pay is decent? Or are you doing it because it’s

something you really believe in and find great satisfaction from? Personally, I’ve experienced both scenarios as a leader, and I’ve worked for both types of leaders. I definitely contributed more and achieved more whenever I had my own heart in it and whenever I worked for someone who had their heart in it. When your heart is fully in it, you really care. You care more about the quality of the work, you take things personally, and you’re not afraid to do whatever it takes to fulfill the vision of what you are working towards. You look forward to the work, your miss it when you are away from it, and, given any extra time, it fills your thoughts and actions. You take great care because it’s important.

It’s boring and tedious when you’re committed to things your heart really isn’t in. You’re not as focused on the goal because, frankly, it just isn’t that important to you. Perhaps this is what happened at Yahoo. A probe by an independent board found that Yahoo senior executives failed to properly comprehend or investigate a security breach that led to the compromise of billions of accounts. Performance will be mediocre when people spend more time looking at the clock or thinking about things they’d rather be doing. Working toward something that isn’t important to you can be very stressful; working toward something you really care about is called passion.

When your heart needs a defibrillator

Whether you are the team leader or a member of the team, your team will perform better if your heart is in the game. If you are reading this and find your heart in need of a jolt, here are a few things to consider:

Focus on meaning – try refocusing on why the work should matter more to you. Consider the big picture, and try to look beyond the paycheck. You’re fortunate if you’re working in the credit-union space. Not everything we do in credit union land really matters, but there is a lot that does really matter. We do meaningful work when our organizations teach people how to better manage their finances; we help working-class families get an affordable vehicle or purchase a home; we help small business grow and create new jobs; and we engage in our communities, making them a better place. Regardless of your role in the organization, you can be part of this, and perhaps you may find some personal meaning.

Mentor someone – For some, few things are more rewarding than helping others develop and grow. If you’re in a position to, offer your help and encouragement to others. Share your skills, knowledge, and expertise. Demonstrate a positive attitude and act as a positive role model. This level of service may be just enough to help you regain a meaningful pulse.

Refocus on your own development – Whatever your position, focus on becoming the very best that you can be. Take extra pride in your work and set new goals for yourself, goals that will help you grow. Change and development isn’t easy, but there is a great amount of joy and satisfaction to be had from making the effort. Who knows, perhaps your efforts here will motivate someone else to care a little more and become more engaged.

Make a change – If you’ve really tried, but find that your heart isn’t in whatever it is that you’re doing, I challenge you to move on to something that provides more meaning for you. Personally, I don’t believe we ever become our very best or make the greatest contribution when our heart isn’t really in it. Making a career change can be difficult and very stressful. I’ve been through this transition. For me, the stress of making the change turned out to be less stressful than remaining in the situation would have been.

Why it matters

Most of us spend a significant portion of our lives working. Having our heart in what we do will motivate us to stretch and reach for more. It will add meaning and joy to our lives. It will make our organizations stronger, and inspire others to be the best that they can be. We will make our greatest contributions.

Someone who is omniscient has said that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. I couldn’t agree more.