What I Learned About Work By Winning the Lottery: Part 1

Mark Sagor

TheLotteryWhat would you want to say if you had the chance to send an email to 25,000 strangers dispersed across planet earth? That’s the question that faced me last week and I had 48 hours to decide what to do with this opportunity.

The Listserve is an email lottery. One person every day has a chance to broadcast a message to its growing list of subscribers. Last week I received the email telling me it was my turn.

My decision was to ask five questions that would help me better understand what motivates people to work hard and feel good about their efforts and what discourages people and makes them give up; how good bosses bring out the best in people and how bad bosses drive people to despair.

I also asked about how individuals, right now in 2013, are dealing with the tradeoffs and conflicts that are inherent in the pursuit of making a living, finding meaning and achievement in our work, and having a fulfilling personal life.

These are the questions I asked 25,000 strangers:

What has been your experience with bad bosses and wonderful mentors at work?

What motivates you and brings out the best in you at work?

What discourages you most in your job?

What have you experienced and learned about working with others?

What are your strategies for balancing the demands of work with those of your personal life?

I was delighted and somewhat overwhelmed by the generosity and honesty and delightful diversity of the hundreds of responses I received from people around the world.

I heard from Joe who stocks grocery shelves at night. He told me:

“Someone once told me many moons ago,bloom “Bloom where you are planted.” I have never forgotten that line and every day I turn up to work, even though to most I have a dead-end job, I give my all and enjoy every moment of it.”

I heard from Amber, who is a barista at one of the 3 busiest Starbuck’s stores in the U.S., who told me about her head manager:

“He rolled up his sleeves and joined us on bars, and left things up to our better judgment because he trusted us, and we all strived to repay that trust absolutely…..he always had a smile and laughed at our stupid jokes……and the fact that he worked so hard made everyone around him want to work that hard and be that friendly.”

In the coming weeks, I will be studying the responses I have received and reporting more on the thoughts and experiences about work that my Listserve friends have shared with me.

Meanwhile, please feel free to share your answers to (any of) the 5 questions in the comments section or by email to msagor@compeap.com