Just ask yourself, “WTF?”: A Powerful Key to Getting Your Zeal Back at Work

Let me share a story with you about a woman I coached, a high-powered executive with a six-figure salary, a house on the lake, kids in a great private school, and a stay-at-home husband providing Monday to Friday child care.

I share Mary’s story in Zombies to Zealots: Reawaken the Human Spirit at Work, because she’s a great example of what can happen when you appear to have it all.

Mary wasn’t the least bit happy. She was stressed. Her responsibilities at work had grown exponentially. She was doing the work of three people because her supervisor knew things would get done, that Mary was reliable and professional. At home, she was financially responsible for her family. She held power-of-attorney for her aging parents, who counted on her for every decision about their lives. She was being torn apart by her competence and success.

One day, when her supervisor asked her for one report too many, Mary snapped, sent a terse email complaining about the demands, and thought, “What have I done? So many people count on me and I just put my career in jeopardy!”

I asked Mary what she really wanted to be doing. She told me about playing second chair violin in an orchestra and the joy that gave her, but she knew that wasn’t a practical solution with her responsibilities to her family. I told her to ask herself a simple question: “WTF?”

What’s The Fear?

In Mary’s case, The Fear was her family’s financial security, her ability to provide for them, her continued employment. She couldn’t give those up to play violin.

With some coaching, Mary was able to speak reasonably with her supervisor, apologize for the terse email, ask for help finding a solution to the volume of work. They figured it out, with Mary providing mentorship to the next group of company leaders who would ease her work burden, which her supervisor acknowledged as very real.

She started taking violin lessons and played two or three times a week, just for herself, and found great joy in making her music again.

Sometimes, you just have to stop and ask yourself, “WTF?” and move past your fear to find a solution that addresses your needs and your wants, and gives you your zeal back. Everyone deserves happiness.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.