One of the reasons you may not be generating the results you want is because you are treating your job as if it is a job. When you treat your job like it is something you have to do instead of something you are grateful for the opportunity to do, your results are never going to be what they might be—or what they are for others with a different mindset.
There are better ways to think about your job and your work, and developing a better mindset is the first step in improving what you do, how you do it, the results you produce, and the rewards that follow.
Your Job or Your Work
Your job has a lot to do with your work, but it isn’t your work. Having a job means you are doing your work as part of a company, that you have an employer who has hired you to do the work you do for the benefit of their company and their customers and clients. This belief is the first and most significant shift in how you think about your work. Your job and your work are separate, and they are different ideas, different concepts. You can leave your job and still do the same work.
Imagine you are a solopreneur, an individual working for themselves. You are doing incredibly well because of the quality of your work, and your reputation grows. As word spreads, someone offers you a position with their company, asking you to create the same value on which you built your reputation for their clients or customers. You trade some part of your autonomy for greater certainty and payment from a single employer — some of your autonomy, but not all of it.
The quality of the work you do has less to do with whom you work for and more to do with whether you believe you are doing your job or your work. A job is something you have to do; work is something you want to do. The former doesn’t always give you the same sense of satisfaction, joy, purpose, or meaning, something the latter provides in greater measure. The choice of doing your job or your work is individual, belonging to you alone.
No one will rarely stop you from doing better work. If you decide you want to produce work of a professional craftsman, someone who takes great care, who minds the details, who puts their soul into their work, you will not find much resistance. If you decide to more than is required or expected of you, there will not be a line of angry people shaking their fists at you for turning ordinary work into something spectacular.
Empowerment isn’t something someone provides you. Empowerment is something you take for yourself. In an age of knowledge work, it is uncommon to be offered direction on how you should do your work, and even rarer that someone would tell you what work to do and when to do it. If you have wondered why the results people and companies generate are lower than they might be, one contributor is surely people doing their jobs instead of their work.
There is a scene in the movie The Godfather when Tom Hagen, Don Corleone’s consigliere meets with a producer to ask him to give Johnny Fontaine a part in his new film, even though the producer hates Fontaine. As they argue, the producer asks Hagen who he is, that he knows every prominent lawyer in the business. Hagen answers, “I have a special practice. I handle one client.” Your employer is your one client (even though you may take care of many of their clients. Whether or not your practice is special is your decision.
Your Personal Portfolio of Clients
The fact that you work under someone else’s banner doesn’t prevent you from having your portfolio of clients. If you work in sales, your role is to create your portfolio of clients or customers. The fact that you have a job is no greater an obstacle than it would be if you were a solopreneur, where you would be required for every role required of a business.
You can choose your clients. You can decide how you engage them. The decision as to whether or not to create greater value for them than what people who are merely doing their jobs might create is yours alone. Those who are doing their duties are often only going through the motions, something impossible for people who are doing their work, passion, and caring being the primary differentiators.
You also have your portfolio of projects. You also have your portfolio of projects, all the things you need to do to create value for your clients, as well as your employer. No one would dare try to stop you from pouring your heart and soul into your portfolio of projects. No one refuses something excellent over something mediocre, which means you can impact the quality of your work more than any other factor.
Doing Less Than You Are Capable
When you treat your work like it is your job, you tend to do less than you are capable. When you treat your work like it is your work, the sense of empowerment frees you to do something special, making even the most tedious and uninteresting work something more than they would have been without you.
The mistake most people make in not minding their own business to blame their company, their manager, or some other party for the quality of their work. The quality of your work will improve only when you improve it, and that starts when you give yourself over to your work, removing your job as a factor.
Even if you have a difficult employer, that is no different from having equally difficult clients for your work. Your results are still your own.