When stressed or demotivated, tech leaders need to rekindle the passion that sparked their careers at the beginning. Below, 16 industry leaders from Forbes Technology Council share their strategies for turning a negative mindset around.
1. Step outside the tech bubble.
Stop concentrating solely on technology! It’s tempting for me (and even seems required) to focus solely on the latest bleeding-edge technology trend or advancement. But when I make the effort to read, study and learn outside the tech world—even outside my organization’s industry—I’m amazed at the inspiration I get from other fields. - Aaron Spiegel, Center for Congregations
2. Let your stakeholders remind you of the impact your work makes.
The best place to find motivation is through your own team and your customers! They are on the front line, witnessing the impact that your product is making on a daily basis. Another great source of inspiration is listening to tech founders from different industries. Hear about their founding stories, big decisions and struggles. - Satadru Sengupta, Dobby
3. Focus on giving back.
I believe there is more pleasure in giving than there is in receiving—so give back! Anyone in a leadership role who finds themselves in a bit of a slump simply needs to get off the daily treadmill. Do something different with friends or family, but take a break. Take an impromptu vacation for two or three days. Do something that motivates you, and think about what’s most important in your life. - Garry Drummond, 802 Secure, Inc.
4. Learn something new.
Try exploring something new. Learning new technology can sometimes be a breath of fresh air when you’re feeling burned out. Not only will it help you regain momentum and change things up, but it will also position you to more quickly solve problems in the future. - Jesse Kinser, LifeOmic
5. Look to the future.
Technology is all about the future. Once you clearly see it projected and you understand that the highway to that future is the technology you’re providing, then press the accelerator and work to get there faster. - Zurab Ashvil, L3COS
6. Attend virtual conferences.
These are hard times, and I can see how someone might feel unproductive. That feeling can be quickly eliminated once a tech leader starts reading about new technologies or—even better, even now—attending conferences. Virtual gatherings can be super cheap (NVIDIA GTC was $29). Try to attend as many as you can and you will get inspired about tech that is coming and what is on the horizon. It can be very motivating. - Mercedes Soria, Knightscope
7. Take on additional responsibilities.
Any time someone feels that they are being unproductive or are in a complacent zone, I recommend they raise their hand to take on more. Additional responsibilities and/or new projects can challenge you to rethink and re-energize—to stretch yourself for the growth you are going to bring when solving the new challenges. Also, succeeding at a new project can help you regain your confidence. - Sudip Shekhawat, Interior Logic Group
8. Give yourself a ‘mental break.’
All leaders eventually fall into a rut. The great leaders are disciplined enough to recognize when this occurs and have a process for getting out of the rut. I keep a detailed digital journal, and when I am feeling unmotivated, I clear my head with exercise or by spending time with my family. This break allows me to come back fresh, reevaluate my goals and dominate the rest of the day! - Steve Taplin, Sonatafy Technology
9. Find a mentor.
As a young tech professional, the best thing I ever did was find a mentor with 30 years of experience. They’ve been through the swings and the highs and lows. Rely on your mentor and their personal experience to help get you through. The worst part about this is when you feel alone. Finding someone will certainly help with this. - Jordan Arvin, Renovia
10. Get back to your professional roots.
Find inspiration and motivation in your original agenda. When you’ve fallen into a rut, it is important to go back to your roots and remember what led you to the tech industry in the first place. This way you can reflect on your path so far as well as find your long-lost passion all over again. It is therapeutic and will surely bring you to an inspirational and productive place. - Daria Leshchenko, SupportYourApp Inc.
11. Disconnect as needed.
While a world of 10 Zoom calls a day may be efficient, it can be exhausting. It’s more important than ever to take time to disconnect. I find meditation very powerful, but if you’re in a prolonged period of feeling less productive, clear your schedule and take a drive out to the nearest quiet place. Take time to reflect and regather—you’ll come back feeling refreshed and with a new perspective. - Harry Hurst, Pipe
12. Never stop dreaming.
My best advice would be to never stop dreaming. When you dream big, your goals are always beyond your immediate reach; you always have more summits to conquer and more milestones to complete. When your dream is big enough, there will always be people around you who share your dream and will be there to support you when you are down—just as you will push them forward when you’re up. - Ariel Rosenfeld, 3d Signals
13. Reflect on your achievements.
It’s a tough time for all professionals, and it’s easy to feel like you’ve fallen into a rut. Original goals may be out of reach, and original plans may look out of touch. Remember that your passion is still there. The desire to make a difference comes from within. At our company, we often remind ourselves of and recognize each other for contributions to the well-being of the economy, clients and colleagues. - Mike De La Cruz, Directly
14. Open up innovation ‘fun time.’
In the fast-paced tech space, feature development and delivery can feel like a hamster wheel. When this happens, it’s important to be creative by opening up innovation “fun time” so leaders can think and design freely. Innovation days and codeathons can open new avenues for remotivation. Also, consider rotating projects to learn new skills and become challenged in fresh new ways. - Denis King, Solace
15. Seek out new networking opportunities.
As opportunities to see people in person have been reduced, it’s more important than ever to actively participate in opportunities to network, forge new relationships or fortify old ones. Listening to others’ successes and challenges could be the spark you need. Finding parallels to your challenges or being inspired by others could be the hand that pulls you out of your rut. - Rena Christina Tabata, ShareSmart (Think Tank Innovations Ltd.)
16. Map day-to-day tasks to long-term goals.
Remember why you’re here! It’s easy to get lost in the details and lose sight of why things matter. Map your day-to-day work to your long-term goals—it gives purpose to even the most mundane task. When you find yourself thinking the grass would be greener doing something else, imagine it for a moment—chances are that will help you appreciate what you’re doing now. - Brian Rue, Rollbar