Do You Feel Challenged at Work?

How satisfied and challenged are you in your work?  Do you feel like your job has meaning?  Like you’re making a difference?

I recently attended the Global Leadership Summit videocast.  And as I said in a previous post, it’s an annual opportunity for me to re-charge my personal leadership “batteries.”

Bill Hybels founded the Global Leadership Summit, and he’s also the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois.

work life balance, fulfillment at workBill kicked off the first session of the Global Leadership Summit and began his talk by asking, “What is your current level of challenge in your work?”  He suggested three basic levels of challenge:

  1. Dangerously over challenged – This is right at the top.  You can’t stay in this zone for long, or you’ll burn out. Interestingly, your effectiveness decreases the longer you’re there.
  2. Appropriately challenged – This is where everything is relatively easy.  Routine.  Like you’re on autopilot.  It may seem nice to coast through your work day with everything feeling “just right,” but you can’t stay in “appropriately challenged” forever because you’ll never stretch and grow.
  3. Under challenged – You’re bored.  Watching the clock. Counting the hours.  Surfing the web.  Don’t really feel like there’s a purpose to what you do, but at least you’re collecting a paycheck.  You can’t stay in “under challenged” for long because you’ll eventually leave from the boredom.

Where’s your sweet spot at work?

If you want your work to have meaning, and if you want to leave at the end of the day feeling satisfied, but not overwhelmed, you need to find your sweet spot.

According to Bill Hybels, the sweet spot for challenging work is where the “appropriately challenged” and the “dangerously over challenged” come together.  It’s the point where we leave our comfort zone and are stretched to take some risks, step up our game a bit, and take bold action.

Finding your sweet spot at work

If you don’t feel stretched or challenged in your work right now…is there something you can do to change it?  To give yourself a challenge, even if the boss won’t?

What if you’re high in the “dangerously over challenged” category?  You know you can’t stay there forever, right?  Sadly, many leave that level only by force, when other areas of their life – their health, their marriage, their relationship with their kids – start crashing around them.  If you’re in the “dangerously over challenged” zone, start thinking about some changes you can make to give yourself more margin and restore a greater sense of work-life balance.

It may be easier than you think.

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  1. This article is just wonderful and in fact so true. I copied the picture of “What is your current level of challenge in your work?” on a paper and put on my fridge.
    That way I have it visual at all times to remind me of what want and where I want to remain to stay – near the sweet spot.

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