Tyranny of the Trivial Kills Employee Engagement


One week this month my family was out of town. I had great opportunity to really “get some things done.” What happened was just the opposite; I let the mundane, the trivial eat up my time. I rarely watch TV. I spent every night watching TV. Does that happen to your peoplle at work?
It all started with wanting to keep up with the sports and post election. I turned on the TV to see the highlights and then ended up watching a movie every night. I could have done several things while watching a movie such as fold laundry,  even set some goals, but I didn’t. The moment consumed me and I lost track or focus on what was really important. The last evening I spent running around to straighten up the house before my family arrives home.
The reason that I became “slothful” this week was that I lacked intentional purpose. I kind of had plans to do some things, but had not set my heart or mind to doing them. I had no zeal to achieve a specific outcome. In looking back I had the attitude of “whatever.”
Slothfulness is the enemy of progress, the enemy of industriousness and the enemy of abundant life. The attitude of slothfulness is one of “I will do what I want to do now without thinking of the consequences or the long term benefit.” The lie of slothfulness or apathy is that it gives a fun, fulfilling life. Slothfulness actually steals the very thing that we desire. Slothfulness lies to us and we lie to ourselves by being slothful.
Another word for slothfulness is apathy – indifference, the lack of concern, excitment, or motivation i.e. no zeal. Nothing empowers you to move forward.
Lots of No Meaning
Our lives today have so much that can fill it creating no meaning. We have become a society of trivial things. Think about how much time you waste on the Internet or just checking emails. How much time do you waste texting? (The lie that lots of texting gives is that a person can build or maintain a relationship via texting. Relationships are created and maintained through interaction, time spent together and affirmation, not through a few words bantered back and forth via a cell phone or even Facebook.)
How much time is spent on talk radio, especially sports talk radio. The same thing is said 50 times every hour, yet, men keeping calling in to voice their opinion. Does it really matter? No; trivial things deliver trivial results. Even talk radio repeats itself. Listen once a week and you got the message. Instead listen to a CD on goal setting, parenting or spiritual matters.
Quoting John Mabray “Sloth is the sinful inclination to avoid the most important things in life. Sloth loves trivial distractions that keep us from doing what we really should be doing. It’s funny that we might think that we’re not guilty of sloth, that sloth is not really an issue in our life, because we are all so ….busy! But, the truth is: “busy-ness” is a form of sloth. Sloth loves to be busy doing lots of unimportant things, as an excuse to avoid doing the really important things…”
Time, Energy, Intention
Slotfulness is a sign that employees are not engaged. Typically a lack of engagement is because employees don’t have clearly defined goals that they have bought into or they are not truly engaged in fulfilling the vision/mission of the organization. They are just there to get a paycheck.
The best way to prevent slothfulness is hire on values. Here is a link to doing value based interviewing. Once you hire people who have your values, then make sure you have the right person in the right seat.  Set clearly defined goals for them and provide sufficient ways to measure the progress to the goals. Celebrate the small wins on the way to achieving those goals. Engaged people come to work motivated and want to do well. A workforce not engaged will end up spending time on the trivial or urgent matters and not important ones. A process I have used to improve engagement is a course called “You Gotta Get in the Game.” This course teaches people how to be engaged in business and in their personal life. The return on investment in terms of personal and business growth has been huge.
Engaging in Life
It takes lots of energy, time, commitment to live a wholesome life in: marriage, work, raising a family, being a friend, helping your neighbor and being a worthwhile citizen. A fulfilling life doesn’t just happen. Look at the high rate of divorce, alcoholism and drug abuse. Much of it is the direct result of slothfullness. A person wants happiness but is not willing to put forth the energy or have the zeal to make it work. They want others to provide the happiness, thus all the cry for gorvernment bailout. Doing what is good, wholesome and edifying only when we feel like it is a recipe for sadness and decline. Unless we are intentional, focused and are aware of our tendency towards slothfullness, we will never “feel like it” and will look for the other person to make us happy or solve our problems.
Apathy towards change, discipline, extra effort keeps us going the way of the easy path, the path of least resistance, which is the path of destruction. There is a Proverb that says “The soul of the sluggard (the slothfull person) craves and gets nothing while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

Examine Yourself

Where does this apathy, this slothfulness show up in our lives today? We don’t have to look hard or far.
1) Marriage – Do you actively work to build a better marriage? When is the last time you and your spouse went to a marriage conference, read a book on marriage or took a weekend just to talk about the status of your marriage?
2) Raising children- Are you actively learning what the best principles are to raise your children? Are you instilling in them a good work ethic or do they get everthing without having to work? Are you lazy on the discipline because it is inconvenient or difficult and you really want them to be your friend? Are you applying yourself so that your children can model a healthy, productive life style? Remember, more is caught than taught. Remember, more sports activities are not necessarily healthy for your child. Replace an activity with serving someone less fortunate.
3) Your health – Do you consciously eat well or just grab whatever is available? Do you get annual checkups or just go to the doctor when something seems wrong? (It may be too late by then.)
4) Work – Do you make the boss feel that you are indispensible or that you are just showing up to get a paycheck? When is the last time you initiated some professional development on your own?
5) Community – Do you know your neighbor? Have you helped someone who is less furtunate than you, or are you just too busy?
6) Country – Do you know what bills are pending in Congress? When was the last time you called your representative to voice your opinion? Are you relying on government to bail you out? Get involved!
7) Spiritual life – Are you involved in developing your spiritual life or just sitting their hoping to absorb something? Do you read and discuss what you are learning?
8) Financial – Do you just spend or are you saving? Do you have a monthly budget that you adhere to?


Just like a sloth, slothfullness can creap into the work place at a very slow pace that it goes unnoticed. People lose their passion to engage and become discouraged or even apathetic. Unless, you are intentionally working to keep your employees engaged, you risk some becoming sloths.

For more of my blogs on improving your personal and business life www.lifeleadershiphappiness.com


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