You Are Exactly What You Do, So Make It Count

Point blank: life is too short to do something you hate. The core of me believes that, but, when things get tough, I forget. All jobs trade our hours for dollars. But we must strive to do more than just survive.  

“Whatever you are, Be a good one.”

– William Makepeace Thackeray

I figured out a secret a while ago. It was interesting that it sat right there in the open, in the aisles, but it took several months before I was able to notice it. I was working retail at a large department store, stocking shelves and learning quickly how much I hated the way customers could treat the “help”. It was rough, draining, thankless work, and that meager paycheck was all that kept me coming back. I was surviving, but that was about it. Strangely, even in this cesspool of disgruntled humanity, I found some of my co-workers that were more than surviving.  They were happy, engaging, and seemed to thrive even when things got a bit rough. They also seemed to be the first to succeed, to get the easier shifts, the step up in position, luck just seemed to be attracted to them and that unnatural happiness.

So, what was their secret? What made the difference in their lives?

If you give your best in any position you're in, luck will definitely find you faster. That's really it, whether you're pumping toilets or painting a warehouse today, in this moment you can give your best – and that matters. What does your best look like? Probably 20% more than you can get away with. It's a bit cleaner, faster, more efficient. It's done happily, gratefully, and with the full weight of your attention. It's demonstrating that you care about your work.

I know this sounds like wishful motivational speaker boilerplate, but I'm dead serious and I know it works. I went from simple stockboy to sales in a few weeks, and up to management offers within a few months. I gained a reputation that landed me another, better job, and everywhere I worked the same thing happened. Once I realized that no matter where I was and that my best was the only option I couldn't believe how easy it was to stand out and move up to things I actually did start loving.

So if you hate it, but its what you're going to be doing for the time being, it's not the “what” that should change, but the “how.” If you hate your responsibilities, and you can't change them for the time being, then change the other part – stop hating it. 

So, I challenge you today to commit to always making those hours you're trading count. This may not be the job you love, but you're here right now and you might as well make it really count.