Drive for Meaning

Sometimes staying motivated in any particular role for a long time can be tough. In the information security world, the upsides include proactive customers that take protecting their company values, mission and intellectual property (shareholder value) seriously. The downside includes prospects that are completely clueless about the risks they face. Some very wise investors whos advice I follow say when evaluating a company to invest in, there are four M’s that potential shareholders should pay attention to: Meaning, Management, Moat, and Margin. The company has to do something that resonates with you, they need to have skilled management that has shareholder value in mind (they aren’t traitors that spend shareholder owned money for their own luxury or enrichment), they need to have some inherent competitive differentiator, and finally they need to have a current valuation that gives prospective shareholders a return on their investment.

Equally, to stay motivated in a role, individuals need a sense of accomplishment. Paul G gave a great synopsis of this by condensing it down to four key attributes that any role has to have to provide an individual with the motivation to do great things: Compensation, Purpose, Autonomy, and Mastery. It’s been proven that money is not an effective motivator by itself .. an example being the difference between a cash payout versus some meaningful memory.  If an individual receives $5,000 in bonus money, although it’s appreciated and goes to some purpose, three months later, it’s difficult to recall exactly what that money was spent on.  Where that same individual receives an equivilent value item (prehaps a mountain bike or a trip to a vacation spot), three months later, the reward is still very tangible. Purpose, autonomy and mastery are all needed to give an individual the tools and space to make a tangible difference, where it may be difficult, if not impossible, for them to make a lasting difference without all three attributes.

The parallel between these two sets of concepts is clear: a company needs individuals that are motivated to be the best at what they do and compete for the win better than our competitors.  Individuals need a company that will not only provide these motivational tools, but has the capability to do so.  For a company that is not managed well, doesn’t have a competitve offering, or is under capitalized, they won’t be able to attract and retain the best individuals that they need to win and thrive.

With any major change, such as starting another degree, changing jobs or moving cities, things can be overwhelming. It takes every ounce of strength and stick-to-it-tivness to navigate these changes and focus on the end goal.  Finding ways to motivate yourself can be challenging when faced with the overwhelming task of taking on that degree or life change. Just like strength training in any fitness program, one fantastic outcome of these challenging circumstances is the realization that we can do it .. and that new strength is our new norm.