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Maybe You’re Just Bored. And It’s Your Fault

Published: September 03, 2016

It’s not the boss, the strategy, or the system. You’re just not in the right place and/or doing the right thing. And it’s your fault.

I speak from experience.

Sound Familiar?

I’m 41. I like big challenges, missions, and asking why. I get bored easily when I can’t tackle those things.

I like rigor. I work hard and my work is considered valuable and high leverage. I don’t navigate internal politics well. I tease out of the root cause quickly. I want to fix those problems. I’ve been called the “canary in the coal-mine” multiple times. I’m impatient, stubborn, and lack tact. I relate to the front-line doers and like flat organizations. I believe most managers are just getting in the way.

That’s me, for better or worse.

It’s taken a while to **accept that many work situations left me bored and under-stimulated. That was a big step. Without that self-awareness I frequently sought stimulation by trying to fix the situation. **And we know how that goes … established systems are a beast, you get burnt out, leave, and it all starts over.

My Advice …

A friend in their mid-twenties sent me an email recently asking for advice. I saw a lot of me in him: hunger, sensitivity, drive, confidence mixed with insecurity, systems thinking, and the drive for a “better way”. I replied with this …

It’s your responsibility, and your responsibility alone, to seek out (or create) the environments where you can thrive. Your weaknesses shape your strengths. Without them you’d not be who you are. You could spend decades trying to be something you aren’t, or invest the time now being who you are. My biggest “mistake” was not building a foundation earlier. Chipping away earlier. Accepting earlier. I was my own worst enemy for a long time. Maybe you’re a better consultant! Maybe you should start a company! Maybe you need a better mission, or a better cause! Maybe you need to hang out with different people. Maybe people should pay you to be exactly who you are, warts and all? Do what it takes. You might even need to shut up and do the grunt work for a couple years (but keep the end-goal in mind). Most importantly, start writing your own narrative. Because it will take a while. And wont be easy.The next time you find yourself angst-ridden about your work … ask if you’re just under-stimulated. Are you bored? And why are you allowing that to be the case? How are you getting that fixed?