Most individuals who start as active professionals change their behavior and increase their performance for a limited time until they reach an acceptable level. Beyond this point, however, further improvements appear to be unpredictable.
That’s because the honeymoon is over and learning stops at some “personally justified” level of seeking balance between home and work. It’s a big error and often encouraged by media and books.
Stress is healthy. We need stress to thrive in life. If you give up stress at work you’ll cause it at home. Better to strive for excellence in work irrespective of your job circumstances, your boss or your team. Strive for excellence. Keep the pedal to the metal. No half.
Too many people work with one foot on the brake and one on the accelerator. Half progressing, half retiring from stress. But inspiration and meaning come from intensity. Not from half. It’s not the job. It’s an attitude that’s sucks.
- Don’t work in isolation. Do projects where you’ll be forced to show your work to others. Not only that, make your work visible to others. Not to boast how great you are, but how great the work is.
- Stretch your abilities by taking on projects that are beyond your current comfort zone – up to three or four projects concurrently, all the while holding down a balanced, centred mind.
- Obsessively seek feedback, on everything-even if, it’s humiliating. But seek it from those you would pay for it from or asked. Do not listen to feedback you didn’t ask for or wouldn’t pay for.
- Track progress toward goals and visions: track how you spend every hour of every day. At the beginning of each week figure out how much time you want to spend on different activities. Then track it so you can see how close you come to your targets.
You have to get good before you can expect good work.
It’s dangerous to pursue more control in your working life before you have career capital of excellence to offer in exchange.
A hard truth of the real world: It’s really hard to convince people to give you money.
Just because you’re committed to a certain lifestyle doesn’t mean you’ll find people who are committed to supporting you.
Control that’s acquired without career capital (excellence) is not sustainable.
Build up a decade’s worth of relevant career capital before taking the dive to change careers.
Do what people are willing to pay for.
“I didn’t quit my day job until I was making more money with my speaking than I was with my consulting”
A good career purpose is similar to a scientific breakthrough – it’s an innovation waiting to be discovered in the adjacent possible of your field. If you want to fulfil a mission for your working life, you must first get to the cutting edge- the only place where these missions become visible.
If you want a purpose, you need to first acquire career capital. If you skip this step, you might end up with lots of enthusiasm but very little to show for it.
Advancing to the cutting edge in a field is an act of “small” thinking, requiring you to focus on a narrow collection of subjects for a potentially long time. Once you get to the cutting edge, however, and discover your mission possible, you must go after it with zeal: a “big” action.
Once you have the career capital required to identify a purpose, you must still figure out how to put the mission into practice. If you don’t have a trusted strategy for making this leap from idea to execution, then like so many others, you’ll probably avoid the leap altogether.
Little bets: The important thing about little bets is that they’re bite-sized. You try one. It takes a few months at most. It either succeeds or fails, but either way you get important feedback to guide your next steps.
To maximize your chances of success, you should deploy small, concrete experiments that return concrete feedback. Explore the specific avenues surrounding your general mission, looking for those with the highest likelihood of leading to outstanding results.
For a mission-driven project to succeed, it should be remarkable in two different ways. First, it must compel people who encounter it to remark about it to others. Second, it must be launched in a venue that supports such remarking.
Working right trumps finding the right work.