Are you a Walter Mitty?

Find that what makes you happy; work should always be a labor of love! – Khalid Raza

Think about this…80 percent of the 18-44-year-olds check their smartphones as soon as they wake up. It’s highly likely that your networks are reaching for their phones and scanning their newsfeed as they start their day. No wonder every Monday morning, the social networks are mostly buzzing with ‘I hate Monday’ posts. Today, of course was no different.

monday-bluesI, for one get seriously excited about Mondays. Productivity gives me a buzz and therefore the start of the week finds me bright eyed, raring to go.

And that makes me wonder, why is today’s workforce so disengaged? What is missing? It isn’t that the organizations do not have those fancy activities and programs to ‘try’ to make them happy. Organizations are trying to do everything under the sun to keep employees engaged and excited about work. For example: Quiz contests, team outings (the worst of all), cricket tournaments, some flash mobs (I seriously do not get it), potlucks, dance, fashion fests, so on and so forth. Do they work, maybe yes, maybe not! I am not suggesting all this is a waste of time, but what about before and after these activities? How would you sustain the buzz and the engagement?

I was talking to a few young millennials (Yes, I am a millennial too) and for us the ‘experience’ is more important than anything else. I asked this guy, “The org is doing so many events, why do you still want to leave your job?”, and he looked at me, wondering if I am from Mars and quipped, “Dude, my job sucks! And these events won’t take that away!” He was right. These wonderfully orchestrated colorful events are worth zilch when it comes to ‘real’ employee engagement. Employee engagement is not an event, it is a state of being, and you won’t get there with events! (Tweet this)

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty SocialGlamorLast night, I was watching, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a light but enjoyable film by Ben Stiller where the protagonist (Ben), a day-dreamer escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, he takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.

I am not saying we all should become Walter Mitty (why not though) but why are we stuck in jobs which do not inspire us, but may have promised us fatter packages? Why is it that only compensation inspires us while we know that money would never be enough? Why do we want organizations to keep us engaged? Why can’t we be engaged at work?

I am interested to know your thoughts – Do Mondays make you happy or sad? There is a discussion happening on Facebook, feel free to add your bit.

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5 thoughts on “Are you a Walter Mitty?

  1. maureenmonte August 25, 2014 at 5:44 pm Reply

    Hello Walter! Er, I mean, Khalid! 🙂 First of all, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was based on a short story by James Thurber, who is one of the funniest writers I’ve ever read. His understanding of the foibles of mankind was astounding. Hence his ability to portray what goes on in the minds of men (and women) when they are not engaged. They create a space in their head where they are amazing, valued for what they do and who they are, and of course, largely successful in romance. 🙂 But to your fabulous point, why don’t we focus on the ‘real’ stuff? We don’t focus on it because it’s hard. It’s simple, but not easy. Help me understand that my value proposition is valued, show me how my role makes a difference in the universe, and is connected to a deeper meaning and purpose, and I will be Walter Mitty in real life. 🙂 Great post! Onward!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Khalid Raza August 25, 2014 at 8:54 pm Reply

      ha ha… I like that name – Walter! You said it – it is not easy. And what is? We need leaders, friends, family, people around us to make us see what we can’t and sometimes decipher what we can see. So ideally there are two facets to it – each one of should be more self aware and try to become effective (I think of you when I hear this word) and then we should also make others around us be effective (Now you can smile). But as you mentioned in your latest blog, we are mired with the manifestations of our minds and we don’t see clearly. The day we make efforts, we can make mountains move.
      Let’s continue to strive to be effective. Amen!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. maureenmonte August 26, 2014 at 12:11 am Reply



  3. Mariano August 27, 2014 at 9:34 pm Reply

    I loved this post Khalid. And I agree with Maureen’s POV: “We don’t focus on it because it’s hard. It’s simple, but not easy”. The more horizontal an organization becomes (through social collaboration), the more easily all these ‘reality conflicts’ will arise: you can have the coolest event, with lots of food and swag…but that won’t engage employees. I think in this game, the most honest company will win. Face the challenge, invite your employees to solve engagement problems, and work on that in an open and transparent way, involving all the actors. I don’t like Ben Stiller very much, but now I will watch this movie! Thanks for sharing it

    Liked by 1 person

    • Khalid Raza August 28, 2014 at 9:50 am Reply

      Yes the juice of it is – make partners and not employees. Look at our #SocialHRSucces work where no ‘one person leads. We all are leaders and we all are workers – all driven by passion. Similar stuff happened when Maureen and I got together few year ago and created history in IBM and #SocialHRSuccess is, once again, a piece of admiration.

      Yes, Ben isn’t a great actor, but the direction of the movie is fun. I love the song, “Ground control to Major Tom…”


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