Life has been pretty tough lately. I’m finding I’ve had no time for things I really need to make time for. I run a company, handle every facet of my dads affairs, including his loony girlfriend, and I have a long commute every day before getting home often times after my kids are in bed. I’m not complaining… I could be in Iraq.

As life gets me down, I try to find purpose in everything I do, especially if it takes a significant amount of time from my life. I have often asked myself why I run my own company when instead, I could be working for the man, getting off at 6pm and forgetting about everything until I arrive the next morning. I reasoned today that the answer is because I want to have a bright future and the closer I am to a position where I can directly affect it, the better. It takes a lot of extra effort, and time, but being an optimist, I still have some in me.

As this economy gets you down (and I’m speaking here towards other business owners and entrepreneurs) you have to be real about what is what. We are either engaged or disengaged in the things we do. To be engaged, we must see meaning and purpose in our daily work. When we are truly engaged, big things happen.

In the current economy, when there is not a lot of meaningful work to go around, then we become disengaged. We are now tasked to bring more meaning to our work.

At my company, we refine processes, pay closer attention to what ails the customer, revisit forgotten tasks, fix legacy problems and invent. Yes, invent! We think about ways to make our standard processes better and faster. We did this in 2001, so why wouldn’t we do it now? We sturdy our foundations, and position ourselves for that sudden launch. All this with the optimism that when the days get brighter, the cream rises to the top.

Now as a business owner, it’s easier to see this vision, and that’s what keeps me going. But how do you get your small team to rally behind the vision? After all, the company is the sum of all its parts. Most of the answer, I think, is to help your team visualize their position in your organization. Show them where they can go from where they are now? Make clear what our goals as a company are. Doing this will enable them to see how they will achieve their own dreams and goals [what matters to them]. When they find the true purpose in their daily work, it will help them connect to the same vision you have.

Maybe it’s theory… but consider this. If I myself do not see the meaning in a task, then why would I expect anyone else to? A health and fitness guru doesn’t go through the motions for fun, they do it to see results and the thrill of controlling those results. If I took a job as a janitor, I may work diligently and be happy for a stint, but after a while, I’m bound to ask myself, “where do I go from here?” Would I really ask myself each day, “what could I do today to help move the company closer to its goals?” There’s no chance if there is no purpose or vision. It is our challenge as a leader to get our team asking themselves, “what can I do today to advance the company vision,” or “what can I do today to make myself a better person?” Should the janitor expect to advance to a more senior janitorial position? The more likely scenario is that he’ll take a similar job for better pay elsewhere. For many, like myself, we need to be able to visualize our next step upwards.

This is my Tuesday contribution to society. It’s a dump of experiences from the day that came to a pointed culmination during my commute home. Happy holidays, and may all our futures be bright, and meaningful.