The Stimulating Work Approach

This approach involves putting yourself into situations where you can do stimulating work. It may then involve going through the stages of doing solid work, satisfying work and stimulating work.

This is an approach that can be used when helping people to shape their future careers. It is one that I used with a sales director who was wondering about exploring opportunities in other companies.

The person was adrenaline driven. They loved to do things they felt passionately about, set specific goals and work to achieve their picture of success.

They also enjoyed being a trusted advisor to pacesetting customers who were leaders in their fields. They could then provide services that helped these customers to tackle challenges and achieve future success. 

Bearing this in mind, we explored whether it was possible to do more of these things in their present company. This led to them redefining the roles in their team.

They did this in a way that enabled people: a) to play to their strengths; b) to achieve the team’s picture of success. This also released them to do what they did best.

The sales director is still with the company. They are doing stimulating work that creates wins for the company, wins for the customers and wins for themselves and their colleagues.

Imagine that you want to follow elements of this approach. The first step is to clarify the kinds of work that you find stimulating. Different people give different answers when exploring this theme. Here are some of the things they mention.

The situations where I do
stimulating work are when I am:

Teaching motivated students … Helping dyslexic children … Solving specific technical problems … Helping people to overcome pain … Managing certain kinds of crises … Giving keynote speeches … Leading pioneering teams.

Imagine that you have identified and put yourself into a situation where you can do such stimulating work. Bearing this in mind, you may then focus on going through the following stages.

Solid Work

This involves doing the solid work that will provide the platform for doing the stimulating work. The kinds of solid work will depend on your chosen activity. Whatever you work you do, however, it may involve aiming:

To plan ahead … To clarify your strategy … To translate this into a clear action plan … To put in place the right structure … To organise the resources to do the job … To do the practical things required to set things up to succeed.

The athlete prepares themselves properly – both physically and psychologically. The actor learns their lines, rehearses and is ready to go on stage. The leader makes sure their team will be following the right strategy with the right people in the right way.

You will do the solid work in your own way. This may then lead to the next stage.

Satisfying Work

Many people focus on doing enjoyable and effective work that will help them to achieve their goals. This gives them a sense of satisfaction on the way towards doing stimulating work. Different people will obviously do different kinds of satisfying work on the way towards achieving their goals.

Looking at my own work, for example, in the past I used to run workshops for helping people to build superb teams. These were sometimes the precursor to doing mentoring sessions which was stimulating.

Doing the workshops often proved to be extremely satisfying. These involved planning ahead, meeting the key stakeholders to clarify the goals to achieve and designing the sessions.

It then involved running the workshops. This called for making the sessions enjoyable and effective. Based on what works, the workshops involved passing on practical tools that people could use to achieve their goals.

The workshops often enabled people to achieve success. This made them satisfying. As mentioned earlier, however, they provided a pathway to moving on to the mentoring. This was the kind of work I found most stimulating.

You will have your own approach to doing the satisfying work. When appropriate, however, this may then lead to the next stage.

This involves doing work that gives you positive energy. You play to your strengths, do stimulating work and achieve success.

You feel in your element – at ease yet able to excel – when doing such work.  If you work for a company, it can be useful to do this in a way that creates wins for the company, wins for the customers and wins for your colleagues.

This approach echoes James Collins’ view that is it important to put the right people in the right places on the bus. They can then make their best contribution towards reaching the desired destination.

Great teams apply this approach by coordinating people’s strengths. They do this in a way that makes sure they are able: a) to do all practical tasks; b) to perform superb work; c) to achieve the picture of success.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation where you can follow elements of this approach? How can you do this in your own way?

How can you clarify the specific situation? How can you do the solid work and satisfying work? How can you then do the stimulating work? What will be the benefits of taking these steps?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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