Something I find interesting, is learning about what people are working towards.
Obviously enough, we have short term goals, and we have long term goals. If goals drive us to work for what we want, the achievement of reaching them encourages us to raise the bar, to be better, and to keep trying. Its a positive feedback loop that makes us productive individuals.
It often surprises me to learn that people are working with short sighted goals in mind - dead lines, rather than where they plan to land "in the long run."
To be more clear, I may be working on a deliverable this week (such as a new design, template, code test- whatever), but I'm working towards helping the company I'm at achieve it's long term goals. And more importantly my long term goals.
But this is more important than just my goals
Think about how many times you've worked on something that never saw the light of day - regardless of what it was, it can be frustrating. But at any company, thats part of the process - and keeping your sights on long term goals can keep you happy when you might naturally be discouraged.
At every startup I've been at, countless designs, products, features, code, etc. are thrown away. Its never bothered me, because from a business perspective I generally understand what makes sense for the company - more importantly, I have an extreme sense of faith in the people running the startup I'm at (if that changes, its time to leave).
This mindset is important for a team thats striving to achieve the same goal. It can help people take losing past work less personally. This is incredibly important because when people are upset about their time being wasted in such a way, it affects their attitude, and makes them less "fun" to work with. It hurts the overall team - even if only from a social standpoint (which may be the most important in regards to constant quality of life - afterall, who wants to quit a job where they get to work with their friends all day?).
Your work, is your work - but it is not for you, its for your team. Don't be a big baby about it.