Being Ineffective Is As Good As Being Dead

No one should ever do something they dislike, especially if it does more harm than good. And especially if it changes you as a person for the worse.

Just a few months ago, I attended my company’s quarterly forum, where company details were shared, such as the goals, set backs, and direction of where it’s headed. They also included a speaker that talked about enabling and engaging your employees, as the forum also extensively covered a portion of the employee survey results.

My ears perked up when I heard this because for 16 months, I was the Walgreens Diversity Strategy Specialist. I spent a large majority of my time (around 80% of all my work efforts) to the company’s employee survey results, analyzing, preparing, compiling, and presenting results to Senior VPs, Directors, and regional and district managers. All this in an attempt for them to better enable and engage their employees.


Not much happened. Too much money was spent on something that people simply did not find value in. It’s as simple as that.

So when I heard this again, about how the company leaders need to engage and enable their employees, I looked around the room. Half the folks were doing something else: passing notes back and forth to their coworkers (reminded me of high school), asleep, whispering to their seatmates, and otherwise, not paying any attention.

The other half? Glazed eyes slowly shifting to the clock, seeing when this would all be over.

Drowning In Information and Distractions

We live in an age where information is not just abundant, we’re drowning in it. Distractions are all around, competing for our finite attention. Social media burst onto the scene years ago and is still growing and gaining huge momentum. We have Twitter updates every 3 seconds from those we follow and vice versa. We have hundreds if not thousands of Facebook friends.

We have dozens of blogs we follow – or at least, would like to follow but simply cannot due to sheer quantity – and/or subscribe to in our RSS reader. This blog, Castles in the Air, may be one of yours. And if so, thank you. I truly hope what you read here is adding value and inspiration in your life.

Time Is Relative

I know and understand we all have limited time. But time, when you really think about it, is all relative. Time is man-made. The value we put into time is what causes us to have an increasing urgency to get everything done, and get it done now.

Time, then, is of the essence to most of us, if not all of us.

So if whatever we are doing does not enable nor engage us, why are we continuing doing it? If the company you work for does not allow you to be enabled in the work you do and engaged with the company’s practices, culture, and innovations, what is the point?

Allow yourself to think about what you are doing and if it is really enabling you to do your best work and be the best person you are. For you deserve to be the best person you are, and not just another number in the company payroll, not just another expense to be partitioned out. You are a person. A person with feelings, emotions, dreams, goals, passions, and hopes.

Allow yourself to think about what you are doing and if it is really engaging you in the work you are producing and if you fully believe in it and the impact it has upon your community and world at large.

Look at the graph at the beginning of this post. Which quadrant do you fall under? (If you are in the lower left quadrant, what are you doing about your current situation?)

If your work is accomplishing one or the other (enabling you but not engaging you, or engaging you but not enabling you), you may be satisfied to stay put … for now. And if your work is accomplishing neither one, please, for your own sake, do not stay put.

Being Ineffective Is As Good As Being Dead

Dramatic, I understand, but the point is, a dead person cannot contribute anything to anyone. Nor will an ineffective person.

My work at my corporate day job is not enabling nor engaging, and by far, not fulfilling. I really enjoy helping others, but in a way that truly, truly makes a lasting difference in this world. I love to write and to create art. I was born a creative person. You are too, in your own unique way. We are all artists.

And my job is not creative and will never allow my creativity to show through (Hence why I am resigning this coming Monday, Nov. 1 rather than the 22nd like I had planned. Well, you know what? Plans change. And I’m living my life now.). The creative arts are where my true talents lie. I am only inhibiting my own potential as a human being by staying put because I “should.” No one “should” be miserable.

And no one should ever do something they dislike, especially if it does more harm than good. And especially if it changes you as a person for the worse.

My father recently said to me, “You know … we were wrong to try and force you to stay in your job that you don’t like. We don’t want to see our daughter change and become a different (worse off) person. We want you to be you.

This was like a gulp of water in my parched and h2o-absent body. I needed to hear this, from my own flesh and blood.

And even if you may never hear this, I’m saying it. I want you – you – to be the best you can be. To be happy, to be free, to be healthy, to smile, laugh, dance, sing, and cry your heart out with tears of joy.

You are far more precious to this world – and to others — than you would ever realize.

And if your employer, your family, your friends do not recognize this, I do. And I appreciate you.

  • Jay Uk

    Good luck on Monday! Think it’s be a big smiles day :)

  • Ashley

    Congrats Nina! Monday’s the big day, so happy for you!

  • karen

    another great post. motivational and inspirational! best of luck to you and congratulations on recognizing that sooner is better than later

  • Chris

    Excellent words Nina! Being as I came from a large retail company and was a Regional Manager, I understand this 100%! Amazing how companies will say how much they need to save money,communicate, and engage their employees, yet it stops right there! The fish always rots at the head. Excellent post as always :).

  • Bruce

    Good luck, Nina. More inspiration for those of us contemplating the leap…

  • Beth

    Congratulations Nina! I’ll be thinking of you on Monday!

  • Aisha Farhoud

    Good luck with everything! Aren’t you glad you won’t have to sit through another BS meeting? :)

  • davidd

    Your comments about disengaged employees at a staff meeting about engaging employees reminds me of a mandatory work seminar I attended where the speaker essentially accused us (teachers) of being out of touch with “the kids today” and of being completely ignorant and afraid of “modern technology” like cell phones and social networking. They were paying this guy ten-thousand bucks a day — no joke — to yammer at us about this stuff… while half the audience were ignoring him and texting or web surfing on their phones.nnSometimes, when I think about the people in charge, I’m amazed that anything manages to function in our society.nnI’ve surfed various “lifestyle blogs” and read countless “self-help” books over a long period of time, but having recently stumbled across Castles In the Air (via a friend’s link on Plurk — are you on Plurk, Nina?) and Joel Runyon’s blog via this one, I’m finding more inspiration here and now to maybe, finally, take some concrete steps to actively change the situation I’m in than I have in all the reading I’ve done before. Maybe it’s the timing, or maybe it’s your style and approach, I don’t know. Either way, thanks for sharing the stuff that you do.

  • Nina Yau

    Yes, I am so glad to not waste another precious minute of my life in these types of meetings!

  • Nina Yau

    Thanks, Chris! You would understand what I mean then, as a former Regional Manager, that the company may say one thing but really they mean another. nnBottom line is, for-profit companies are in business to make money. Simple as that. If they weren’t here to make a profit, they’d be a not-for-profit organization!

  • Nina Yau

    David, thanks for your comment. I’m not on Plurk actually. But glad you found Castles in the Air one way or another! nnMy hope is that what I write inspires others. Especially if it inspires them to take action and be accountable for their life. Whether that applies to minimalism, freedom from an unhappy corporate job, or fears of whatever, I just hope it helps. :)

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