Ever hear the story about the rich man who asked his unemployed
son to build him a new house while he traveled for a year? "Build it well,"
he told his son. "Of course, you'll be reimbursed for everything, including
your time, when I return."
After the father left, the son decided it didn't make sense to work that
hard. He had more important and fun things to do. So, the son applied just
enough personal effort to accomplish the task within the timeframe. He even
cut corners on materials and construction staff to save money that he could
spend on personal whims.
When his father returned, he paid the expenses promised, then asked his
son, "Are you happy with the quality of this house?" "Oh yes," said the
son, "it's a great house. "I'm glad to hear that," replied his father,
"because I'm giving it to you."
Too many people I've encountered, in my twenty years in management, operate
like that son. They do just what they need to do to get by. They cut
corners. They trade short-term whims for long-term gains. And like the son
in the story, they end up hurting themselves.
You see, get-by-effort reduces opportunities (not to mention income),
hijacks self-esteem, hides talents, limits soul-potential and ultimately
shortchanges your life. It's no surprise half-hearted efforts yield
But people who are winning at working aren't interested in getting by, and
they're certainly not interested in shortchanging their life-potential.
They're excited to explore their life's equivalent of Olympic Gold. They're
intrigued by seeing what they can do, finding what they're made of and
using their unique gifts.
People who are winning at working aren't looking for the easy way, the fast
way or the most comfortable way. They want the satisfaction of knowing they
offered their best-self to their work. And while they understand
accomplishment can be difficult, require enormous efforts and tax their
determination, they persist in the quest to find the best of who they are
and bring it to the world.
You see, people who are winning at working aren't competing with you,
they're competing with themselves. Their challenge is to do better this
time than the last, to grow, to improve, to evolve. They're not into
half-hearted attempts because it diminishes their ability to maximize their
potential, discover their strengths and accomplish their dreams.
As football coach John McKay puts it, "All that matters is if you can look
yourself in the mirror and honestly tell the person you see there that
you've done your best." Want to be winning at working? Use the mirror test.
And by the way, what are you saving your best efforts for, anyway?
© 2006 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.
Sign up to receive Nan's free biweekly eColumn at www.winningatworking.com. Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan.
Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and on-line instructor. Visit www.nanrussell.com or contact Nan at firstname.lastname@example.org.