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How to Maintain Your Energy and Enthusiasm in Your Career: Needs versus Wants!

Most of my clients had a vision of the contribution they wanted to make when they took their current role. Many of them have been caught up in the unfulfilled demands of the new role and the urgent requirements of each day. After some time, they end each day with less resolve, or less energy to contribute from their personal vision.

Something is wearing them down but they haven't worked out what yet. Somehow the enthusiasm of their initial sense of purpose is reducing. They begin to manipulate themselves, things that were easy at the beginning have become a hard slog.

What has changed?

For most of us we have compromised some deep need to contribute. Contrary to popular belief, our needs are not optional, for us they are deeply held requirements that need to be fulfilled in some way. They are the foundation of our satisfaction and our sense of purpose. In comparison desires or wants are optional, we don't need to do them to be fulfilled, however they can certainly add to our satisfaction.


My client needed to increase their sales figures. Their analysis showed a fairly homogenous sales team. She thought they needed to diversify their sales team in a certain way to lift their overall results. Consequently, she constantly got involved in the 'on the ground' hiring decisions of her managers. A number of these decisions turned sour within 6 months and required huge amounts of energy to rectify ? both to move on the inappropriate hire and regain the confidence of the manager!

She got confused in delivering the result between working on the big picture and her competence in taking care of the details. She was actually quite a noted visionary but not a 'consciously competent' operator in this area.

Her personal need was to transition from being a competent performer to being a visionary. Both aspects have very different measurement methods and sense of success. She needed to seed the vision to her team of managers so that they could grow and develop the business. Their hiring decisions may well have reflected this vision, however changing the hiring decisions in isolation wasn't working.


Needs usually don't arrive with a brass band and flag waving. They sneak up on us. One day we wake up and realize we aren't happy doing what we have been doing any more. Our job role may be past its use by date, or we may be tired out from doing things the same way.

The question isn't what needs to be changed: that is usually very obvious, it is what to change it to! Do we need to change jobs or can we transition to another role within our current job and meeting our now urgent needs? Can the client above become the visionary contributor for their US$2 billion business or do they need to be in a different role to take smaller steps?

Energy and Enthusiasm:

Have you ever noticed that when a project's outcome is clearly defined and assigned it is easy to contribute? Have you noticed that sometimes when you are tired and you begin to work on a task, as you work your energy increases?

When we have a focus that we are committed to, we create the energy to deal with the issues that arise and do the work.

When we have a fuzzy focus and fuzzy commitment to a project, it often takes huge amounts of energy to get things going and keep them going!

Focus creates energy! We need to harness this and have enough energy-creating projects in our days to fund the energy requiring ones enough. This is an external definition and measure of meeting our needs.

What to change to meet our needs:

Most of us have an area of competence we call common sense. It is so obvious to us and so easy that we presume it is also the same for everyone. We get frustrated with those who don't reflect this assumption to us and presume they are 'holding out'.

To meet our needs we need to develop conscious competence with our 'common sense'. Most of us have no language for it, no patience with others about it, and no ability to manipulate the elements to fit the solution to the situation. Hence we have an unconscious competence.

Our job (need) is to develop conscious competence so that we can contribute wisely, develop it in others, recognize their competences and develop those too. These are our needs that we must meet.

From this perspective my client needs to step up and take the visionary contributor role, this will generate enormous amounts of energy if she has good clarity of her purpose! Alternatively she will find it takes more and more energy to run smaller and smaller details in the business and loose her effectiveness.

This article may be reproduced in printed or web format, provided the resource box below is included.

Rosemary Johnston is a professional corporate and personal coach. Working with executives from some of Australia's largest and most successful companies for over 15 years.

Rosemary's new book, "How To Develop Your Leadership Style and Skills to Take Charge of Your Career and Life" is now available to download at her web site. Read about how you can share some of the success Rosemary has had coaching leaders in Australian blue chip companies.

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