Has Inspiration Reached its Business Expiry Date ?

I did a search on “inspiration in business” this morning. It is a question that I have been asking myself for a while now. How do people manage to find their inspiration while there is a constant threat of redundancies or down-sizing hanging in the air? How do people function in a world where people are classed into “roles being made redundant” for the sake of satisfying shareholder dividends? Has inspiration reached its business expiry date??

Is inspiration limited to entrepreneurs?

The results of the search were interesting; many interesting articles and certainly lots of inspiration.  However, the search results showed a plethora of articles for entrepreneurs, very little information for “traditional” business.

As a small business owner, I certainly understand the rollercoaster ride of running my own business.

It is a different challenge to working in a large corporation.

As employee, my salary paid my bills, it did not buy me free time.

As a business owner, I have to be very creative with my money. However,

  • the satisfaction of the freedom I buy myself with every project,
  • the inspiration that I find from the small wins,
  • the amazing people that I meet,

keep me going for so much longer than what my salary ever could do.

In essence, inspiration is part of the entrepreneurial recipe. Inspiration creates resilience.

I am no longer sure that it is the case in traditional business.

Has inspiration reached its business expiry date?

Traditional business reminds me of ants.

People are scurrying like ants working through constant change, often picking up the job of the ants that have magically disappeared.  Because their roles have been made redundant.

Are your people just ants or just a role?

Do you even have time to think about inspiring your team?

Has inspiration reached its business expiry date in your business and your team?

Sadly in too many businesses people have just become roles that are dispensable.

Does dropping roles bring more profits?

  • Short term, yes.
  • Long term – only time will tell.

How to inspire your people?

I certainly hope that whatever your role is, that you have not removed inspiration from your toolkit.

To me, I start with the basics and do the same with inspiration:

  • Take time to really look at people need to do and cut out the “bull dust” and unnecessary tasks and reports;
  • Make time to show people that you believe in them and that they are not just roles even when those roles may be made redundant;
  • Empower and equip people for a changing world – understand that they need to voice their insecurity and know that you will allow them to voice their concerns;
  • Stand up and fight for your people – speak up about the value of human capital;
  • Recognise that people are not ants and have emotions – cry a little together and laugh a lot; in the end, your team will reach a balance as a whole.

Lastly and for me the most important, make time to find your own source of inspiration to be able to harness the collective power of belonging and purpose.

Does my advice work in practice?

I certainly think it does.

How do I know?

I once was an ant too.

Post script

I dedicate this post to my team (and the orphans I inherited at the time) that worked with me when we had to demobilise all contractors from site a number of years ago. We were an amazing group of people that achieved amazing outcomes under incredibly stressful times.

Hindsight is 20/20 vision.

I talk a lot about the value and importance of mentoring. In all of the instances where I had to tell people that their roles had been made redundant or when I was responsible for demobilising all contractors from site in tight timeframes, I really could have done with having a mentor on board that made sure that I was ok.

Because as leaders, we protect our people but often we do not have anyone protecting the leaders.

Therefore, even when your organisation does or does not pay for you to have a mentor, make sure you find yourself one. In hindsight, I certainly would have come out with less battle scars.

Let’s all learn from the ants:

“Learn from the ants- how a tiny heart is big enough to love, help and care about another living existence.”

Munia Khan

Have a great day!

Celia Jordaan

November 2016


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