Are you on the wrong bus?

Winner of the Nobel peace prize Wangari Maathai, in her book ‘The Challenge for Africa’, starts the introduction title as ‘On the wrong bus’. The phrase refers to an action of moving in the wrong direction by taking the wrong bus, being there and being led by others in moving away from your desired place. While her context is completely different but the subject is relevant to all of us in our personal and professional life as well.

Have you ever thought if you are on a bus which is leading you towards your goal, in the same direction where you always have intended to go? Or somehow you have been on the wrong bus which is taking you in the wrong direction and farther away from your goal?

Take the example of Sophie who always desired to be a musician and had a passion for playing the piano but her family wanted her to handle the family business and become a successful career woman. She was advised to pursue music as a hobby, not as a career and not as her main activity. Based on the advice and suggestions given by her own people, she boarded the wrong bus and could never reach her desired goal post.

Sometimes we board the wrong bus just because it is the first available bus or because of the availability of seat on it. It might not be possible for many people to wait for the bus that takes them to their destination and therefore whatever bus is available is taken by them. This is the most common reason for being on the wrong bus. After completing graduation or a professional degree in education, one jumps to the first available job with good perks. Not giving much thought to the long career path ahead, the comfort in the bus makes us much more complacent about the future.

Many people are pushed or influenced by family members or friends to be on the wrong bus because they all are going on that particular bus.

It happens that if some of your friends are choosing a particular college, you also tend to be influenced by their decision to join the same college. Because that keeps you in your comfort zone. The common tendency of everyone is to find a comfort zone to accept the earliest available reward and comfort rather than waiting for delayed success. Who knows what will happen in the future and therefore it’s best to find your place on a bus – people often advise. It is not easy to decide your destination and wait for the required time and withstand all the difficulties that come while waiting for the right bus. People laugh at those who do not board a bus and let them go while waiting for their bus when they are not sure when it will arrive.

So ask yourself, are you on the wrong bus?

Are you ‘actively engaged’ at work?

Gallup did a survey of the American workforce. The result showed that 33% of the workforce was ‘actively engaged’, meaning genuinely interested and committed to their work, but 16% of the workforce was ‘actively disengaged’, which means genuinely disinterested and dislikes their job. The remaining 51% of the workforce was just ‘engaged’, implying that they were present in the workspace, neither committed nor disliking. 

The studies done by Gallup found that 33% of actively engaged workers and professionals bring positive changes to revolutionize businesses. They contribute positively to increasing productivity and efficiency. The 16% of actively disengaged people hate their job, but still, continue only because they have some kind of compulsion to do so. These people sometimes bring a negative impact on the overall productivity and work culture. They block constructive suggestions and always find difficulties in pursuing anything innovative. They are dangerous for the growth and progress of the corporation. 

However, the majority of the workers i.e. 51% were just present for the job, meaning spending their time without any commitment or interest in the work. They even don’t bother to bring negative impact or block any growth. These people are working in the organisation without contributing much. They don’t deny the given job but also don’t take up anything on their own. They mostly complete the job but at a very slow pace and without much attention to efficiency and accuracy. This is the lot of the workers who would say, ‘no one told me to do it, or, it’s not my job’. They never take responsibility and never take any proactive steps. Finding excuses and reasons for incompetence is their best skill.

While it’s very clear that the professionals who are actively engaged are the most preferred ones and those who are actively disengaged must be avoided, the fact is that the organisation suffers most from the third kind of lot which is neither actively engaged nor actively disengaged. Their non-commital attitude and below-standard performance bring the overall efficiency of the organisation down. They stay in the firm to pay their bills and get a salary, keeping in mind their own comfort rather than the progress of the institution. 

In case you are also part of any organisation, having a chance to look at a large number of co-workers, observe their attitude and analyse in terms of these three categories. Also it will be useful to look at your own way of working, and bringing the performance to the ‘actively engaged’ standards so that you and the employer both are benefitted most out of it.