Why Are We Here?

An Easy, Practical Way to Engage Staff

In an aprocryphal story a “burned out” Russian Priest takes a sabbatical in a wilderness retreat hoping for renewal and reenergizing.  Depressed and discouraged, he takes a walk in the nearby woods and stumbles on a military encampment.  Immediately, he is challenged by the sentry: “Halt, who are you and why are you here?”  The priest responds, “What did you say?”  The sentry repeats his challenge: “Who are you and why are you here?”  Now the priest asks his own question: “What do they pay you?”  Startled, the sentry responds, “What does that have to do with anything?”  To which the priest replies: “Because I will pay you that for the rest of my life to ask me those two questions every day!”

Who are we and why are we here?

The answer to these two questions is one of the secrets to engagement.  We talk a lot about motivating employees.  But what we really want is engaged employees.  Employees who see meaning and purpose in their work.  Employees who see their job not as a task but as a responsibility.  Connecting meaning and purpose is the way to do that.

Zig Ziglar talks about his “Wall of Gratitude” where he keeps photos of people who have meant something to him.  I don’t have a wall but I do have a “Book of Gratitude“.   When I look at it I am often renewed. 

Maybe one thing we could do is take a wall in a non public part of our building and put a sign over it that says: “Why We Are Here” and then put photos of those we have been privileged to serve over the past year.   Maybe some of those pictures could include pictures of people hugging our staff.  I am told that happens every once in a while.  Then on those bad days we could go stand in front of that wall and remember “Who We Are and Why We Are Here.”   Yes it will take some work, but not much, and my bet is you will start to become even more creative and add pictures of folks I haven’t mentioned here that give meaning and purpose to what you do. 




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