Have we lost the meaning of “work?” I’m not talking in philosophical terms. I’m talking about the real meaning. As in the Merriam-Webster’s definition of “work.”
Here’s how they define work: “Activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something: Sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result; The labor, task, or duty that is one’s accustomed means of livelihood; A specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity.”
Work by definition is not easy. Did you notice these words: effort, labor, and task? Sometimes work can wear us out and send us home weary. But the other side of work is that you “achieve an objective or result.” That’s where the fun is. That’s where the satisfaction is found.
I live in the Houston area and I’m nominating J.J. Watt as the hardest working person in Houston. (I’m not going to be the one to tell him he isn’t!) Watt plays for the Houston Texan football team as a defensive end. It’s his job to go after the quarterback on every play. Guys like Watt made me decide to play tennis as a kid. (Other than the occasional time I hit my leg with my own racket on a serve I survived pretty much unscathed.)
J.J. has a great work ethic. In a recent interview he contributed a couple of priceless quotes:
I think no matter what job you do — I don’t care what job it is — you want to outperform your contract. You should want people to think you’re underpaid because of how hard you work, because of how well you do your job, because of how you go about your business.
If they give you $2 worth of wage, give them $3 worth of work.
The Apostle Paul would give a two thumbs up to those statements. He gave this work advice: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Paul says to give it your all and keep your eye on the prize.
Want to be a better worker? You can start now. Here are five things you can start doing today to outperform your contract:
- Get out of bed and get to work on time. Sounds simple. But we all know the ones who drag in late—no matter what starting time they are given—and disrupt the energy in the workplace. Don’t be that person. Set your alarm. Don’t hit snooze. Get your feet on the floor. Get moving.
- Take responsibility for your time management. You are the only one that can do your job. So find a system that works for you. Plan your day. Plan your week. Get projects done on time.
- Accept the fact that you are the one responsible for your learning and growth. Don’t ever say “I don’t know how to do ______________” and then just sit down. Research it. Ask a peer. Find a book on the topic. And then . . .
- Find a mentor. Be proactive. Look for someone who you want to emulate and ask them for some of their time. Don’t waste it once you have it. Sit down with them and share where you are stuck and ask for guidance. When they give it, move on and show that you learned something from them. If you don’t, they won’t (and shouldn’t) keep giving you their time.
- Give it all you’ve got! Work hard when you are at work. Then go home or go out and relax and renew. Get to bed at a decent time so you’ll be ready to “work at it with all your heart” the next day.
Just see your work tasks as quarterbacks and go after them with full force on every play.
Question: What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned about doing good work? You can comment below. And why not share this conversation on social media? Thanks!