Turning my December mantra into the New Year’s Resolution
I never liked working in an office. It’s a space with a definitive expected arrival time, an expected departure time, and expected activities throughout the day — often under a watchful eye. What a drag, right?
It has its advantages. For example, when you work in a dedicated space with the rest of your team, the velocity of communication is so much faster. You can very quickly and verbally relay a message, get a response, and get back to what you are doing. And not only that, but you have that communication when it is clearly an opportune time — your coworkers see when you’re heads down, and you see when they are.
Now let’s talk about working remotely.
Communication is dictated by the speed, grammar, and punctuation of typed messages. It comes whenever it is convenient for the sender, and often is conducted in group chats that may or may not need your personal attention. For example, imagine you are working on something and suddenly you are transported into a conversation between two people with nothing to do with you. Not real conducive to getting things done with the fewest distractions possible, and the communication is several times slower than spoken word.
Frankly, that’s the worst part of working remotely, followed closely by the intrinsic camaraderie and fun of working alongside someone else.
There are some real perks — as I write this, I am sitting at a coffee shop, which is my office for the day. They have great wifi, they sell fantastic paninis, you meet new people, and there is a full bar! Sometimes, I “clock in” around 9:15 because my alarm was a little slow and my morning workout was backed up a bit. Sometimes, I “clock out” at 4:30 to meet someone before finishing up work a little bit later in the evening. Most days, there is absolutely no dress code, and emails can be checked from your bed.
You can probably tell, though there are inconveniences, it would be easy to get away with — gasp — NOT WORKING when you’re working remotely. Especially with the age of mobile, and especially if you are working or partially working for yourself. I think anyone who has had this type of arrangement has fallen prey that temptation before.
But here’s the thing — you can’t afford to do that. Especially when you have a vested interested in your company.
When you “cheat”, you aren’t just cheating your company or your coworkers. You’re cheating yourself.
For me, it was never an issue of starting late or sneaking away early. For me, it was doing things “well enough” and being constantly reactive as opposed to proactive. When you’re trying to build and grow a company, treading water is not in the blueprint of success. You have to move forward with grace…and paddle like hell underneath the surface.
Taking care of the matters that need urgent attention and then waiting for other matters to become urgent before giving them attention is sort of like cramming the night before an exam. You’ll pass, but it probably won’t be pretty and you’re not going to have fun doing it. You may even run out of time.
For me, I’ve always been a pretty good test taker. Not only do I pass, but usually I do pretty well. In fact I do well enough that on the surface, it may look like I prepared a lot more than I did.
“Just imagine if I actually prepared!” — my internal monologue
That doesn’t fly in this world, and your team can tell when you’re doing it. But you don’t get a shrug and a poor grade from them and move on — you get called out. That test grade isn’t just a poor mark on you — it also has consequences for the entire class.
Last month, this comment landed and clicked:
“I know there is greatness inside of you. I’ve seen flashes of it. But I’m not seeing that right now. You have to want it, and I’m not sure you do.”
Have you ever tried Humble Pie? It tastes like shit.
I’ve been working to add discipline back into my life in a big way. This image is actually from the white board across the room from my bed. I see it every morning after I turn off my alarm (I’ve disabled my old love: “Snooze”)
The greats don’t get there by excelling at cramming. They work hard, prepare hard, and think ahead. If you have the ability to do those things and you settle for less, you are cheating yourself.
My New Year’s Resolution is to be great. What’s yours?
Trying to add an element to your life? Check out the MyIntent project and get your constant inspiration.
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