Are You Clocked In But Checked Out At Work? Answer Three Simple Questions

Published on Forbes 7/2/2014

We’ve all read stories about how disengaged and “clocked out” workers are becoming.

We believe that most people have the desire to contribute more fully and would do so if they could discover a meaningful reason to actively participate at work. After all, who really wants to go through life asleep at the wheel?

Sometimes we are unaware that we have begun to function on “auto-pilot” which can be considered checked out; meaning we have not fully engaged our mind, heart, and hands in our work efforts.

We all need a wake-up call from time to time. Here are three simple questions to help you determine if you are awake and in the game or just going through the motions:

  1. Do you look forward to the start of each day as an opportunity to learn, create, and serve at work?
  2. Do you seek out opportunities to contribute beyond your basic job description?
  3. Do you complete the workday with a sense of contentment, knowing that you gave it your all and now you can rest, reflect, recharge, refuel, and look forward to doing it all over again the following day?

If you answered no to any of these questions, here are some suggestions to help you wake up and engage more fully.

1. Focus the majority of your time and energy on what uplifts and inspires you.

Motivational speaker Chad Hymas recommends that we spend only 1% of our time focusing on our weaknesses or disabilities.

Sometimes we think that happiness will be found at the next job or with the next boss, instead of focusing our time on developing our skills to grow where we are currently planted. Stop thinking about what you cannot immediately change and start doing your best today.

It’s not fun sitting on the bench and watching the time clock of your life just tick away. Instead of disengaging every time the going gets challenging, let’s remember when we were young and we yearned to get in the game; when our hearts and eyes pled, “Put me in, coach,” and nothing mattered more than getting into the game and playing with the team.

2. Don’t be afraid to appreciate the gift of hard work.

Last week, we shared the story of the Sushi Master. “Masters don’t rigidly clock out at 5pm because they are so intensively focused on what they’re working on. They often forget to sleep, eat, or drink. Their inner intensity (soul) drives them to push harder and work harder than their contemporaries, and they also eventually find a way to incorporate breathing space and time away from work into their lives.”

My grandfather had a great saying, “Hard work never killed anyone. Thinking about it might have.” He worked the farm every day, rain or shine, and he found something in his work each and every day to fully appreciate. In our book, The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning, we recommend starting each day by writing down what we are grateful for. Even when we discover our life purpose and calling, we will have hard days. The secret is not to give up. My grandfather lost his crops many times; he didn’t whine, he just replanted.

3. Make a commitment to spend time every day discovering what your true purpose is.

Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” You are the sculptor of your life. We believe that everyone has a work calling; something they are born to contribute to this world. Every gift is noble. No one gift is more important than another. Make the time to discover the gifts within you that are uniquely yours.

Lei Pakalani, another inspirational speaker, sums up how we can ultimately become happier: “It’s true that the happier you are with who you are and what you’ve become, the easier it is to celebrate, build, love, and serve others around you. You find that you are secure enough to live and love big. You discover that making others happy brings greater satisfaction. You look outward for opportunities to give of yourself. You become confident enough to not let the petty, mundane, and unimportant things matter, and then you radiate peace in your actions, relationships, and faith. It is a blessed life, indeed. I choose happy!”

What is the ultimate reward for clocking in and remaining checked in? Lei Pakalani, an inspirational speaker, sums it up best.

We believe that a clocked-in but checked-out team member has not discovered the true joy of work. Help another on their journey and don’t be surprised if you also discover your way in the world. In The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning, we shared Theodore Roosevelt’s thoughts on the value of staying in the game.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” —Theodore Roosevelt

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