3 Articles that Got People Talking in 2021

I’ve been writing a weekly article for over a decade. This practice has served as an avenue of exploration, a chance to reflect on the state of the world, and an opportunity to connect with all of you.

It gives me a chance to see which ideas people find most interesting and helpful. Here are the 3 articles that were most popular with readers in 2021 (with a short excerpt from each one). To get the full article (and a weekly helpful piece) consider subscribing to the Work on Purpose LinkedIn Newsletter.

The Brain-Changing Magic of Meaningful Work
Whether you have formal authority or not, you have the power to show people that their work matters (Even over Zoom). And you have the power to create a meaningful work experience for yourself.
Here are some tips to help:

  1. Identify who the work impacts. Not a department name, not a company name, who are the real people that are better off as a result of your work? Thinking and talking about these people can make seemingly mundane tasks more meaningful.
  2. Get clear on the consequences of not doing it (or doing it badly). Who suffers if you don’t do your job? Humans have natural instincts to help each other. Viewing your work in the context of helping someone else avoid delays, capture opportunities, or make sure things are done correctly adds on layers of significance.
  3. Know your strengths. Are you detail-oriented? Creative? Great at inspiring others? Being aware of where you add the most value can help you identify high-impact opportunities to help quickly.

High achievers don’t wait to be led; the lead themselves
Who is your leader? There’s an assumption that your leader is your boss. While that may be hierarchically true, placing the future of your career in someone else’s hands takes you out of the driver’s seat. In reality, you’re in control of your own behavior.

In today’s environment, the ability to lead yourself is crucial. Even in huge companies, high-achievers are regularly praised for their self-starter mindset, steadfast motivation, and ability to get things done, despite a massive org chart. No matter what chaos is around them, they manage to lead themselves towards success.

Managing Your Mind: 3 Mental Mantras for Top Performers
For me, mental mantras are short phrases you repeat to yourself in important moments.

Over time, these mantras become reflexive. They create habits that enable you to consciously direct your own brain. Here are my three go-to mantras that help me recalibrate:

“What if it goes awesome?”

If you find yourself starting to think, “What if it goes terribly and they hate it” interrupt that thought cycle and challenge your brain to think, “What if it goes awesome and everyone loves it.” Pointing your brain towards the payoff (instead of the risk) helps you be more confident and courageous before bold action.

“This is my chance.”

I say this to myself when I’m frustrated. This mental mantra helps reframe an obligation into an opportunity. Here’s how it works:

  • “Uh, I have to read through that report” to “This is my chance to learn to learn and make more informed decisions.”
  • “I have to answer those questions” to “This is my chance to add more clarity and make sure we are aligned.”

“Nobody is going to bleed out on the table”

Many years ago, I was facilitating a tense meeting with an executive team. The team, who was leading a financial institution, was overwhelmed with the volume of decisions that needed to be made.

Finally, the head of HR reset everyone with a sobering, “Let’s get a grip. It’s not like someone is going to bleed out on the table here.” It was funny and effective. I never forgot it because I saw how quickly those few words enabled everyone to reset.

I do recognize, in some professions, someone might actually bleed out on the table. This isn’t a mantra you can use all the time, but it is one that can check your reality, and keep your mind from making mountains out of molehills.

I believe the reason these three were the most popular articles of the year, is because they share a common theme: we are only in control of ourselves. Our mindsets, words, behaviors, that’s what we own.

It’s at truism we all know hearts, but many of us (including me) need to be reminded of.  As we approach yet another season of uncertainty and adaptation, my hope is that we all come to this year with a stronger, more grounded sense of self.

So tell me, dear ones, what do you want to read more about in 2022?