On Joy and Motivation in a War Zone

Monique Valcour
Apr 26, 2018 · 2 min read
“A silhouette man outstretches his arms looking over a valley of fog in Chaing Mai as the sunrise-or-sunset turns the sky orange” by Zac Durant on Unsplash

Few things are more valuable in high-demand organizations than people who are both excellent at getting their work done and deeply humanistic. One of the people I coached most recently is a security professional operating in an active conflict zone. “It’s good to talk,” he told me. He supervises a team that helps humanitarian agencies carry out their work safely. At one point during the call, he rolled back in his chair a bit to pull the curtain back and look outside. “They’re shelling. And it’s pretty heavy.”

We reviewed the results of his 360 assessment, which were excellent. “There’s one guy who wasn’t happy with me on the 360. I know who he is. He’s having a little trouble switching from the old way of doing things to the new way. But he’s very good at certain things, and I assign him to tasks where he can use his strengths. Step by step, that’s how you do it. It’s about building mutual respect. He’s becoming a valuable member of the team — no, he IS a valuable member of the team.”

“We’re in a hellhole in the middle of a hellhole here, but everything is great. I get everyone together for a barbecue every week, and we always have some kind of music. My grandfather always told me, ‘Every morning when you wake up, rejoice. Because there will come a morning when you don’t wake up.’ Every morning I wake up and I sing. If I’m not singing, I go back to bed.” I said, “I bet you never go back to bed.” He laughed and said, “That’s right! I’m always singing.”

Monique Valcour

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Executive coach, management professor, keynote speaker, @HarvardBiz contributor. I help people & organizations craft sustainable careers. http://www.facebook.com/DrMoniqueValcour