There is nothing quite so destructive of effort as a long march in the same direction that results in nothing.
It is an interesting paradox: we are told and come to believe that if we simply put 100% of our effort in we will reap the benefits of that effort. Sure, it may seem like we are simply standing in place doing the same thing - but the promise is that somewhere, somehow, the reward is waiting.
And someday the realization comes that it is not.
This year comes to look the same as last year - perhaps we are doing different versions of the same thing, but it seems like we are simply reshuffling a deck of cards and pulling out a different five and being told that this really is something new. The issues remain the same, the arguments remain the same, the structure remains the same.
It surprises me somewhat that those in positions of authority do not see this for the very destructive and debilitating issue that it is. People are the heart of any organization - be it a job or any sort of association, without people the work does not get done. Yet too often those on top seem to cruise along in a sense of suspended belief, operating under the assumption that all is well indeed and that this year will be like the last.
The reality seems to be that at this point the individual is confronted with two choices: either accept the illusion that the effort is going to result in something different (which it seldom seems to) or make a conscious decision to strike out on their own - mentally if not physically - to reach a destination more of their choosing.
Neither of these ultimately benefits the leaders. The first option ultimately results in individuals that are simply going through the motions of their tasks, doing the minimum possible to meet the expectations. The second option ultimately results in individuals walking away from the job or association as they seek to pursue their opportunities elsewhere.
People want to change, grow, and feel that their effort is leading somewhere. This is why, at the core, people have hobbies or interests that they continue to progress in - because they can see their effort resulting in a tangible improvement, which drives them to continue.
It is when people are robbed of this opportunity that they choose to check out - mentally or by moving on.