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What Matters Is What's Interesting

August 16, 2018 Joe Mechlinski

“Put those fucking journals away,” our companion said, looking up from his menu. 

My friends, entrepreneurs Yanik Silver and Joe Polish, and I had pulled out notebooks — intent on capturing the brilliant ideas of the man joining us for lunch. 

That man was Richard Saul Wurman, an icon of the digital age. 

Wurman is an architect and author of over 80 books on various topics, but as the founder of the TED conference in 1983, he foresaw how the convergence of technology, entertainment, and design would define the next generation of human advancement. 

“Writing notes, research shows, helps reinforce memory,” Yanik defended.

“Life shows me that’s bullshit,” he answered. “Learning is remembering what you’re interested in.”

We chewed our breadsticks slowly, digesting his words.

“Everything you need to know from this lunch, you’ll remember,” he explained. “You won’t forget a thing you were interested in.”

This was more than a moment of thought for Wurman. After all, a person doesn’t write over 80 books on almost 80 different topics—or create an entity as multifaceted as the TED conference—without having a deep enthusiasm for all his subjects.

On the way home, I reflected on the connection between interest and learning.

My own work is all about engagement at work. In fact, our mission is to shift the work to transform the world through a more engaged workforce.

Since 2001, we’ve helped organizations—and individuals within them—to strive, strengthen, and surge! Our successes, pathways, and proprietary methodologies were forged in the beautiful struggle of helping more than 600 businesses flourish.

At the time of the meeting with Wurman, my colleagues and I were struggling to wrap our heads around one particularly alarming statistic about the American workforce:

70% of workers:

  • Think they aren't good at their jobs,
  • Aren't passionate about their Jobs
  • Don't believe their work is about something bigger than themselves.

In other words, these workers have “checked out.”

How can businesses expect to thrive if most of the workforce shows no passion—or even interest—for the work? And since the work world mirrors the real world — if we aren’t ALL IN at work, how can we expect to be ALL IN at home and in our personal lives? 

When we leave work depleted and hopeless, we don’t return to our families and communities feeling empowered, looking for opportunities to innovate and create in our personal lives. Instead, we arrive home and promptly numb ourselves in front of the TV with the mistaken belief that we lack a better option for how we spend our days.

“We the people” do whatever is easiest, which is maintaining the status quo and allowing inertia to take over.

  • We hate our politicians but don't bother to vote
  • We take a sidelines approach to childcare - drained from the day of monotony
  • We complain about high medical costs, yet obesity plagues the nation

Our schools are failing, inequality is growing, opioid abuse is destroying entire communities, yet a majority of our focus is reserved for TMZ, Tinder, and Facebook.

Imagine, instead, if we held ourselves to a higher standard at work, bringing meaning to the one activity that makes up the bulk of our day. We could spread that engagement throughout our lives - acting on our convictions and viewing apathy as the plague it is!

It starts here.

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