Learn to love your work
By Byron Moore, posted September 5, 2017
Originally published in the News Star and the Shreveport Times on Sunday, September 3, 2017.
Q: Last week you wrote about somebody who hates their job and wants to get out. Well, I don’t so much hate my job as I feel I am not reaching my potential. I work with nice people in a nice environment, but I don’t feel super useful. I don’t really want to leave my job, but I want to feel better about myself in my job. Does that make sense?
You may recall in last week’s column I drew from David Covey’s four secrets to a successful and fulfilling career: making enough money, making a contribution, having passion and making a difference.
When you say you don’t feel like you are reaching your potential and that you don’t feel “super useful,” I hear you saying you’re not experiencing Covey’s last three career-fulfilling traits: contribution, passion and difference making.
Since changing jobs is not something you are especially keen on doing, let’s see if we can focus on changing you.
Commit to excellence now. Are you doing a good job in your current position at work? A really good job? Even if you are digging ditches, making coffee, rearranging paper clips or doing grunt level research for a senior partner, there is an acceptable way to do the work and there is an excellent way.
Don’t expect to catch anyone’s attention by doing acceptable work. Respect is not awarded. It’s earned. Make sure you choose to be excellent at what you do now, so that excellent opportunities may open up to you later.
Communicate your desire. Does your boss know of your desire make a deeper, more meaningful contribution? He may be good at a lot of things, but reading your mind is likely not on the list. Don’t assume your boss knows what you are thinking.
You just might find he is delighted to have someone so willing to work on his staff and give you new opportunities. Assuming the work you do now is excellent.
Create opportunities. This one can be risky, so proceed with caution. But sometimes you need to step out and take a risk. Sometimes you don’t wait to be asked or to be given permission.
Is there a project or opportunity at work that you could simply do, then report that you did it (without being asked)? I repeat, if you don’t have good judgment about where a line is being crossed, you could be fired for doing something you have not been asked to do. I would not suggest you do anything that consumes significant resources or puts anyone (or anything) at risk.
What’s something in your workplace you are certain everyone wishes would happen, everyone knows how to do it, but no one wants to do it? That could be a good place to start to create your own opportunity to build a reputation of being a take charge problem solver.
But I cannot stress enough the importance of using good judgment here. Cross the wrong line (or person) and you could find yourself as a former employee.
Clarify your perspective. We live in a complicated world requiring complicated solutions to complicated problems.
Yet we still yearn for heros – individual heros – to ride in to the rescue. We want John Wayne to ride in to the rescue. In business, the entrepreneur is hailed as a conquering king come to save us from this problem or that.
But reality is rarely that simple. Solutions often come as a result of a dedicated team of people, working together in coordinated fashion, with no individual getting the credit.
It may not seem exciting to work for a giant oil company, or big hospital or even for a nameless, faceless governmental bureaucracy.
But if you’ll back off far enough to remember what the world would be like without these mammoth organizations, you’ll see that even the lowliest employee plays a part on a team that does something significant.
It’s Labor Day weekend. If you get the day off tomorrow, use just a little bit of it to reflect on what contribution, passion and difference-making you might bring to your work place.
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