“By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.” Robert Frost
Not to say Robert Frost's sentiments ABOVE should be everyone's aspiration...for some it may!
Previously, I wrote about the amount of time you can expect to spend in your career. It ends up being a relatively small portion of your live - about 10 solid years - if you do the math - or 80000 hours (SEE "Maslow & the 80000 Hour Career Journey..."). Ironically, during our life times we will spend more time sleeping than working by a long shot - roughly a whopping 26 years in total JUST FOR SLEEP!
So, any way you put it, our time is limited in this thing we call work - so, how to maximize it and make it so it, well, it does not seem like work?
Oh. One more thing. As of this writing, the current percentage of employees, as tracked by Gallup, who are engaged at work is 32.2%. Which means 3 out of 10 employees "are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace." 7 out of 10 are not...to see the up-to-date numbers - SEE Gallup Daily. So, there's an opportunity for YOU to be an outlier!
What follows are 5 steps to "Make Work...Not Work!" If you are successful, you WILL be:
1. Identify your wiring.
"To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom." Socrates
Or, another way to put it, "Identify your unique capabilities you consistently deliver without thinking."
Each of us is a thumbprint - we each are different combination of gifts, talents and strengths. No two people are the same - even among identical twins. Understanding and having an appreciation for who YOU are is important since you should be AIMing those capabilities in a way that could provide exponential results.
I have a simple equation I like to apply: G X P = S. Translated, it looks like this: GIFTS X PASSION = STRENGTH.
When you take time to FIRST understand / appreciate your gifts, you set your path toward being able to maximize your time and professional career. In other words, you lean in on you GIFTS.
So, what are your gifts? For the career-focused, the gifts are a bit more subtle to discover. They may not be as blatant as those demonstrated in art or sport BUT they can be observed and identified. Go back to where are you "most at home", "where do you disappear" and have a gut feeling where you "belong". What seems natural to you?
Example: When asked about his abilities as a swimmer, Michael Phelps said "I feel most at home in the water. I disappear. That’s where I belong."
Couple the self-reflection with an assessment or two, maybe even some feedback from someone certified to help you interpret the results and you're on your way. (SEE: Passion Is OK But It's Not All of It! Just A sk Tim Tebow...)
2. Know your "Why-ering"
"When you know why you do what your do even the toughest days become easier." Don Crowther
...or more simply, answer "What's my "WHY?".
Some ask, "Why isn't this the first question you should be addressing?" I submit, if you understand what your unique offerings are first, you can then have the goal of "leaning in" on your gifts...THEN answer the question, "Why?"
With that said, thank you Simon...no, not you Simon Cowell - you're a different gift - you Simon Sinek who, in 2009, put it eloquently in his ground breaking TED talk: "How Great Leaders Inspire Action" and introduced us to his simple and powerful model for inspirational leadership - starting with a "golden circle" and the question "Why?". In his TED talk and his book, "Start With Why", the golden circle includes: the innermost circle - "WHY"; a middle circle - "HOW"; and an outer circle - "What".
This is how he puts each:
WHY - Very few organizations know WHY they do what they do. WHY is not about making money. That’s a result. WHY is a purpose, cause or belief. It’s the very reason your organization exists.
HOW - Some organizations know HOW they do it. These are the things that make them special or set them apart from their competition.
WHAT - Every organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. These are products they sell or the services they offer.
I submit, you could apply the same principal to your career and work...it would look like this:
WHY - Very few PEOPLE know WHY they do what they do. WHY is not about making money. That’s a result. WHY is a purpose, cause or belief. It’s the very reason YOU exist.
HOW - Some PEOPLE know HOW they do it. These are the things that make YOU special or set YOU apart from their competition.
WHAT - Every PERSON on the planet knows WHAT they do. THEY are the product or service they offer.
If you start with number 1 - What's my wiring? Then, 2 - What's my "Why-ering"? Your number 1 and 2 will be a constant theme / thread - it's how you see your world and IDEALLY how people see you!
For more of the "WHY", keep reading...Questions to Uncover YOUR Calling / Purpose / Why...
3. Identify how YOU can help.
"We can't help everyone, but we can help someone." Ronald Reagan
When you get to this question, this is when it gets fun! You know your gifts...you've figured out (or have a STRONG sense) your WHY...and NOW you get to AIM your GIFTS / WHY toward being a resource no one can live without. OK, so maybe that's a bit much. It's still possible to be a resource people will seek.
So one way to DIRECT your assistance will be to answer "What breaks my heart?" "What bothers me?" "Where can I add the most value?"
Be a problem-solver.
At any given time, your world, state, city, town, workplace has dozens of issues they're wrestling with. Things that need to be changed, improved upon, or scrapped and replaced with something else. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to identify one of those problems and find a solution for it. More often than not you’ll learn the issues by simply listening closely.
A TRUE Story...
The Oscar-nominated movie drama "Hidden Figures" tells the real-life story of three female African-American mathematicians who played an under-appreciated role in the space race. Dorothy Vaughn became the first African-American supervisor at NASA after filling the role for a long time without the title or compensation.
She kept asking for the promotion but was denied until she made herself so valuable Management was eager to offer it to her. Her route to gaining recognition was proving she could do the job by doing it, and when that wasn't enough, she took it upon herself to teach herself how to use the IBM Data Processing System — fancy new computer that was supposed to replace the people — that no one could figure out how to use properly.
Morals of the TRUE story:
1. You too can advocate for yourself to attend meetings you feel you need to be in, meetings where you can gain the attention of the decision makers.
2. You too can take on duties that are beyond your job description but within your skill set.
3. You too can find ways to get the education required for the position you desire or become the expert on the latest technology.
4. Whatever the obstacle you're facing, prove that your abilities are what they should be paying attention to. It will take motivation and a whole lot of guts, but not nearly as much as these three women showed.
Do things that aren’t "in your job description". Not at the expense of your specific job duties, though. Nevertheless, this is the way you bring real value to your company. Think of it as an equation: Your Compensation + Additional Value You Offer = Your True Worth.
4. Know what YOU can give.
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill
As noted, it's all downhill from here! As you go through this sequence, your gut, intuition, abilities, lead you toward dispensing your gifts. Think of this sequence as a fine running machine - the cycles will happen very quickly! 3, 4, 5...3, 4, 5... 3, 4, 5...
Will you be "leaning in" on your gifts / talents / strengths? That's the hope, because the recipients will benefit from your SUPERSIZED offering.
What can those gifts include besides time and money?
"Success isn't about being the best. It's about always getting better." Behance 99U
Kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, etc. You can apply the same principals to your work quest!
When done correctly, kaizen humanizes your approach to work. It focuses on eliminating overly hard work (muri), and encourages / teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method and how to learn to spot and eliminate waste. In all, the process suggests a humanized approach to work and to increase productivity.
The kaizen steps include:
Keep asking. Keep learning. If you receive ongoing training at work, soak it up and apply it. If not, then take it upon yourself to keep learning. Below are more ways to learn / get better...
Specific ways to get better:
- Read! (Stay current on trade journals and books in your field.)
- Listen! ("Two ears and one mouth to listen more and talk less." Greek proverb)
- Ask for feedback! ("And the most important part of asking is listening and responding..." Anonymous)
- Take classes!
- Be teachable! (The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about. Wayne Dyer)
- Teach! (When you teach YOU learn!)
- Volunteer! ("No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." Aesop)
- Coach! ("Determine your players talents and give them every weapon to get the most from those talents." Don Shula)
- Be coached! ("Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." Anonymous)
- Mentor! ("If you light a lamp for someone it will also brighten your own path." Buddhist proverb)
- Be mentored! ("Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." Anonymous)
1. Identify your wiring.
2. Know your "Why-ering"
3. Identify how YOU can help.
4. Know what YOU can give.
My best to your quest!
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted relationships where individuals, teams and leaders NAME, CLAIM and AIM their gifts to achieve optimum performance.
Interested to Learn About Yourself or Your Team? Mark is a Certified CliftonStrengths Coach and TotalSDI Facilitator and happy to discuss your situation / team.
About Mark Myette
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted
Based out Roam - Buckhead - 3365 Piedmont Rd NE, Suite 1400 (2nd Floor), Atlanta, GA 30305
Can meet at other Roam locations if appropriate: Alpharetta; Dunwoody; or Galleria