How did I come up with the current idea for my TED Talk title? From the worst summer job ever! I spent the summer of my junior year of college working in jury control at the Newark County Courthouse. I know, you are all so jealous right now. Believe it or not, it wasn’t easy landing the job. If I had only known what I would actually be doing once I started I may not have applied.
My first day they put me at the front, handed me a stack of green and white dot matrix paper (if you are too young to know dot matrix – Google it), and a pair of scissors. My job was to cut the over-sized paper into individual squares with juror numbers on them, that the full-time employees would then hand to potential jurors when they checked in.
Exciting work (read with sarcasm). But I dove in and tried to make it interesting. First I stacked multiple sheets together to be more efficient. Then I tried to figure out how far across to cut to make them all fall into the basket neatly. I was very focused on speed by lunchtime. How many sheets could I do in an hour?
Little did I know, the head of the department was watching me! The next day when I arrived she told me to report to the back office. For the rest of the summer I handled juror payroll – a real job and one in my field of study – accounting. (Yes, accounting. But that’s a story for another time.)
I am telling you this because this experience was the inspiration for the idea that Engagement Comes from Within.
If you are not happy at work, stop blaming the organization and start figuring it out for yourself. (Tweet this!)
What gets you going? For me it was creating a challenge for myself. At the gym, it is having a friend to go with. What is it that creates a spark for you? Figure it out and then find a way to infuse it into your work. Engage yourself.
Thanks to all those who answered the survey or emailed me ideas for TED Talks. I may need to do more than one with all those great titles!