If you’re going to sweep the floor, sweep it better than anybody in town. And if you
‘re going to play the guitar, really, really, really get in it, and don’t be jivin’.
How many of you are “just doing a job”? It’s a tough economy, and sometimes we have to take a job that pays less than we’d like, or is in a different field than we prefer. I can accept that most people aren’t working their dream job. What I can’t accept is the mentality that your job is merely a set of duties. In Building a Ship I told business owners about the best way to motivate employees, by making them long for the sea, instead of assigning tasks– a way to help employees see the greater vision in their companies. Today, I’d like to talk to the other people who help keep that company running.
Carlos Santana, one of the greatest guitarists the world has known, offers the above advice, and it has inspired me since I was a teenager. I don’t care if you’re sweeping a floor, flipping a burger, playing a sport, or running a Fortune 500 company: do it better than anybody in town- and don’t be jivin’. Your personal success and greatness come from the same well that hard work and failure can help to carve. Do you go out of your way to be the best worker you can? Do you pick up the scrap of paper on the floor? Take the extra effort to make sure customers end their interaction with a smile? When you’re assigned tasks, do you grudgingly find the easiest solution, or embrace the opportunity to find the best solution?
If you work eight hours a day, you spend nearly a third of each week at your job. If you’re only doing the smallest amount of work to get by each day, resenting each day, you’re not only cheating your employer: you’re cheating yourself. Every task, no matter how menial or repetitive, is a reflection of you as a person. Whether or not you like your job, it is the job you are doing, and what you spend your valuable time doing. Leave work each day, knowing that you did a job worthy of your signature, and you’ll walk a bit taller, and be a bit happier. It takes more effort, and requires you to truly care about what you do, but the positive effects on your outlook are worth it!
If you are reduced to a job description at work, and given no chance to achieve more, to introduce new systems, ideas, policies, and improvement: ask your boss to allow you that lateral freedom! If s/he refuses, then it is time to try to find better employment, even a reduction in wage if necessary, because the overall benefit to your life of having a workplace which allows you to express yourself through your work, instead of “just doing a job” is worth more than a few dollars, and well worth the temporary sacrifice of a few luxuries at home, or nights on the town.
If you spend a third of your day being miserable, no amount of money is going to make the leisure time worth the extra stress and emotional turmoil that can come with “just a job”.
Sometimes we have to work miserable jobs, with miserable people, just to make rent and pay our bills: but take the time to smile, go the extra mile, and make your time there worth your while. Don’t do it because performance reviews are coming up, or because you want a raise, or a pat on the back: do it for yourself and your own happiness, and you’ll be surprised how quickly your overall level of satisfaction can change.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and if you’re a fan of this post, or any of my posts, be sure to share with your friends and colleagues!