Why Just Doing Your Job Isn’t Enough

Knowing what to do isn’t even half the battle.

job

“As long as you get your work done, you’ll be OK.” False.

No matter the age, profession or size of company, there still appears to be this belief with many in the “workforce” that as long as we complete the tasks assigned to us by our bosses, clients and/or project management software, we are “successful” in our work or career. It’s as if many approach work like a factory worker who works within their respective lane of activity and hopes nothing interrupts what they need to accomplish to keep the lines moving. Or maybe, some of us have never shaken off the poor habit from school of doing the most minimal amount of work possible while still getting a passing grade.

Knowing what to do isn’t even half the battle.

I know you’re probably super intelligent and up on all the business and professional development trends and insights. That’s why you keep reading these types of posts and articles. Let me bring you into a little secret, most posts and articles are written to increase click throughs, sales of ad space and primarily provide super high-level insights about whatever is hot at the moment. It’s not to say you can’t get anything good from magazines, blogs and news sources, but you have to be able to see what they’re actually selling you.

Over time, if you’re not careful, you’re actually going to believe most of what’s written and it will skew your view of reality. It will easily make us feel smarter than we actually are, more relevant than we know what to do with and more entitled without actually changing our lives. Kind of sounds like a recipe for disaster, no? Generalizations about market research, trends, “best practices,” etc. are just that…generalizations.

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Here’s a crazy thing about knowledge in general. It makes you think you are doing something even when you’re not. It’s much more enjoyable to think about what could be, what should be, and why it’s not happening. Knowledge should propel us to move beyond the expectations in our lives, but isn’t it ironic that it often keeps us stuck where we are by distracting us in the hypothetical?

I can’t tell you how many people I meet that are so “forward-thinking” and yet default to an antiquated approach to moving forward. Look, if you want get ahead, it’s less about changing your workflow, hours, etc., and more about going above and beyond anyone’s expectations and doing the hard things that build your life and career.

Work harder, think smarter and produce louder.

I can’t think of anyone (outside of the few that have simply inherited “success”) who have accomplished something significant without going beyond their day-to-day job requirements. Going through life by doing the minimal and being an exemplary employee should never be anyone’s goal. We have to thrive beyond what’s expected, fine tune our ability to think clearly through the noise and distractions around us, and speak up by producing great work that we’ve created to better our lives and the world we live in. Of course, I’m not saying that we work ourselves to death. (Then again, I don’t think workaholism a problem for most of us.) Wisdom is usually in the middle somewhere. In this case, it sits between the extreme of minimalism and workaholism.

Still reading this?

Congrats! You’ve made it to the end of this post. I really do believe all of us have the ability to rise above the expectations that others put on us. I’m not even saying that we have to meet their expectations. What I know to be true (which you can test in your own life) is that no one is going to hand you success. You have to go after it. For me, this has very little to do with money and a whole lot more to do with purpose. My drive is rooted in my desire to live out my purpose. I realized early on that my purpose can’t be rooted in some job description that my boss gives me. Nothing on paper is ever going to encompass all that I am purposed to do. This means that I have to make time and work toward building things that can’t be confined to a day’s work. Some call this over-delivering, but I feel that it’s really just living out who I think I’m designed to be.

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Maybe some of you were born with some supernatural talent. I’m a little jealous but very happy for you. For the rest of us, let’s step it up a bit and experience life more fully. Let’s not make excuses and lean on articles written about what we’d like to be. Life is short. Let’s go do something meaningful.

Charles Lee
Charles is the CEO and Chief Idea-Maker at Ideation, a brand innovation company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations build remarkable brands via innovative business design, organizational change architecture, brand integration, design, web and marketing services. He is also the author of Good Idea. Now What?: How to Move Ideas to Execution, a practical book designed to help people move ideas to implementation. Charles is regularly invited to speak to leading companies and organizations on topics such as creativity, innovation, idea-making and branding. Executive leaders from brands including Wells Fargo, Toyota, The White House, Catalyst, William Morris Endeavor, mun2, Council of Urban Professionals, Chick-fil-A and many others have benefited from having Charles present at their key events.