Let me introduce you to Jennifer Takagi. Jennifer is an executive leadership and communication coach who works with leaders teaching them how to play well at work. As a result, they can get better performance from people they lead, increase profitability and create a purposeful workplace where people want to come and play productively. I want to share Jennifer’s story with you because it’s a great reminder of the power of a practice I have already written about – tapping into your “why”. This is one of the things people often forget to do when trying to motivate themselves. 

Why am I staying here or doing this? 

Why do I want this? 

Why do I choose something over the other things?

During Jennifer’s training trips around the US for the past 30 years, she’s seen a lot of frustrated people. There seemed to be some disconnect between the leaders and the people whom they were leading, and she set herself on a mission of changing that and turning cubicle cells into a playground where everyone can have fun, feel fulfilled and bring value in a playful way. 

Jennifer came to realize how valuable the practice of tapping into your “why” is through a quite painful journey. At some point, she was working for a boss who was putting a lot of pressure on and intoxication into Jennifer’s life, up to the point that she was waking up at night with anxiety attacks. She got to the point of going to work filled with anxiety and not being able to handle people around her well enough, without falling into huge negative feelings. She started feeling as if she was turning into her boss, but she couldn’t help it, and wanted to leave the job, leaving behind a whole bunch of benefits she could get from working there. At some point she realized that life can’t go on like that, so she decided to go see a doctor, who prescribed her mild medication that would help her anxiety. 

When Jennifer went to work the next day, she realized that she actually could keep herself together and calmly explain to people around her what they had to do, and she could handle her boss much better. That gave her hope, and she started reconsidering leaving her job. This was one of the most crucial moments when the question “why” helped Jennifer out. She could have left the job, but by asking herself the questions “why did I start working here? “ and “why should I stay?” she realized that there’s no point in giving up all the benefits that she would get from her job just because of one person, who didn’t even care for her. There’s no reason to feel guilty for something that is not your responsibility.

Since then, Jennifer started pushing her friends, and later clients, to ask the question “why” in order for them to get on track and realize the true worth of themselves and what they are doing. How so? 

Asking this question leads you to understanding what actually is your motivation, your job and responsibility, and what you were forced to believe is your job and responsibility. Furthermore, answering the question “why” reminds you that you made the decision yourself, and you can be held responsible for it, but not for the other things imposed on you. You get your power back to choose your actions and reactions. This is what makes you stronger and helps you find yourself, not only in work, but also in everyday life.  

Morale of the story? 

  1. Ask for help. Just like Jennifer went to a doctor, you might need support of a friend, colleague, or a specialist. Never go through the dark times yourself.
  2. Getting short-term solutions in place are not excluding work on the long-term ones. Jennifer did get help from the medicine, but she did not want to rely on that solution in the long run. Instead, she used the mental capacity that was freed up by the meds to work on the long-term solution coming from within.
  3. Remember that happiness is a choice. You can always choose to stay in the toxicity that is eating you up, or shift your mind to the positive in the situation, or leave that toxic situation / environment at all. Jennifer chose the second with the help of tapping into her reason for getting this job in the first place. She got empowered by the simple practice that costs nothing and can be done whenever, wherever.

    If you are interested in learning how to change your attitude and reaction towards the situation in a quick yet powerful way and how to realize that short-term solutions are not always mutually exclusive with the long-term ones, you can listen to the whole podcast episode here.

    Stay tuned and be genius!