The Holy Grail of Blogging: Progress

“The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious.” – Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

The Harvard Business Review recently published a paper that challenges the way employers see motivation. They asked over 600 managers from dozens of companies to rank factors that have the biggest impact on employee motivation. Their choices were: recognition, incentives, interpersonal support, support for making progress and clear goals.

Zeus punished Sisiphus, requiring him to eternally push a large boulder up a hill, only to see it roll down again to the bottom.“Recognition for good work” came out as a clear number 1. Unfortunately, the managers had it all wrong. In a separate, multi-year survey that tracked the employees thoughts and feelings (what a novel approach, eh?) it was determined that the one item Managers ranked dead last was the most important to workers- a sense of PROGRESS.

A close analysis of nearly 12,000 diary entries, together with the writers’ daily ratings of their motivation and emotions, shows that making progress in one’s work—even incremental progress—is more frequently associated with positive emotions and high motivation than any other workday event.

Progress matters more than anything else to us. This desire to grow, expand and overcome challenges is insatiable- and the managers that recognize this will have a much better understanding of how to encourage and motivate workers. But what does this mean for individuals? How can individuals gain greater self-motivation by understanding this principle? The answer lies in what progress means to each one of us.

When I talk to busy attorneys about desires when it comes to blogging, they have very similar concerns:

-Will blogging help me bring in business?
-Can blogging help me gain recognition for my expertise?
-Can this get me on the “short list” of experts?
-Is anybody I want to do business with reading blogs or spending time on Twitter?

What they are really asking is, can blogging help me make progress? Can it help me make progress with my network, progress in my business development and progress in the way I am perceived within my firm? If professionals don’t believe that blogging and interaction through social networks will help them progress in some way, it won’t be worth it to them. Blogging requires too much time and energy.

Progress really means very different things to different people. The #1 reason law firm lawyers cite as the reason they want to bring in more business? They feel it will substantially improve the way they are perceived within their law firm. For solo attorneys and smaller practices, they often want to blog to bring in more business because progress means survival to them. These large or small firm attorneys believe that bringing in business will help them advance the rock in one way or another.

If blogging won’t advance the rock for you, is it still worth it? Most will say no, others enjoy the connections and camaraderie that comes with blogging. The sense of feeling connected to other lawyers that are going through the same things make it worth it. In my opinion, blogging is way too much work for it to serve as nothing more than a glorified water cooler.

What does progress mean to you? If you don’t have a clear idea, you may not have what it takes to wake up again tomorrow and resume pushing that rock up the hill.

-Hat tip to Charles Green for pointing out the HBR article to me.


4 Responses to “The Holy Grail of Blogging: Progress”

  1. Jamison says:


    Thank you for yet another interesting post.

    There are a lot of reasons to blog including, as you say, the sense of community with other bloggers, the feeling that you are progressing with each new blog entry and each new reader, and, yes, business development. It also helps you stay abreast of the latest developments in your field.

    I personally enjoy checking my comments each morning to see how readers have reacted to something I’ve posted. I check Google Analytics to find out how many people have visited the site. I also check my blogroll to see what my fellow bloggers have written.

    But if you don’t enjoy the process — the process of writing, of interacting with other bloggers and your readers, etc. — it will clearly show. It is, after all, pretty hard to take enthusiasm. In that case, considering the amount of time it takes to maintain a blog, it might not be worth the investment of your time.

    • Thanks for your insights Jamison. Comments, readers, retweets- really all of those things can give an individual that sense of progress. But I think you make an interesting point about enjoying the process. If somebody really hates blogging, it won’t be a very easy way to make progress.

  2. Progress means your standard of living will be better tomorrow than today. Overcoming challenges, learning new things and sharing them are all signs of progress. In this cyber era, blogging is undeniably one way of communicating with the world. So much knowledge and ideas are being shared through blogging. For me, those are signs of progress.


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