What makes me good at my job? People sometimes ask how I can “keep it all together” in my head—they want to know how I can juggle so much simultaneously. They ask how am I “so smart,” or how do I make my job look so easy?
Well, the job isn’t easy. “Keeping it all together” and becoming an expert advisor are not just things that came naturally to me. The truth is, if you want to stand out, you just need to get to work, and make sure that you keep your promises. In a nutshell, that’s all there is to it, really.
I don’t go to work to collect a paycheck. I go in everyday determined to make a difference. Put your focus there, and money will become a non-issue. Why? Because there are not enough of us out there doing it. Others will flock to you when you show off your value—the world is hungry for your talents!
Hint: it has nothing to do with how certified or qualified you are; it has everything to do with your attitude and your willingness to dedicate your time and focus to a problem. It’s about making a promise and then following through on the delivery.
So no, I don’t have a magic formula that I drink every day or special tools that help me hack it. I don’t juggle things “simultaneously.” I juggle my obligations the same way anyone juggles: by handling only one item at a time, maybe 2 at most. Multitasking is a myth. What really happens is I spend more effort on de-multitasking–I hoard my time, and I keep my work environment clear of any and all distractions, so that I can get to work solving only one important problem each day. Maybe two medium sized problems or three very easy ones if I’m getting sloppy.
When people interrupt me from these tasks, I ignore them, or if they are being persistent, I politely dismiss them, and ask them to send me an email with their question instead. I only check and respond to emails once or twice a day. You get the idea. I try not to be too rude while also being discerning with my time and accommodating for the important stuff. Yes, it’s a fine balance.
The implication, of course, is that I sometimes have to be picky about the promises I choose to make. But once they are made, I need to keep them. I’ll let you in on another dirty little secret, too. I have enough certifications to make Alphabet Soup blush, but all of them together, even along with my (7!) years in higher education didn’t get me where I am today.
I wouldn’t trade those years of college and the experiences for anything, but in fact they contributed very little to my success in “the real world.” Nobody here cares that I have a Master’s degree, for example. What makes me valuable to others in an economic sense is very simple:
I just keep my promises.
If I say I can help you, then I will help you. Furthermore, I will make sure that you are satisfied with my help before I move onto the next person on my list. If I can’t help you, I will not be shy about it, and you will know that also.
No matter what line of work you are in, you can choose to help others to have better days, better jobs, and better lives. You can do this in small ways or in big ways, on every single day of the week. Whatever you choose to do each day, and however you choose to do it, it is likely that your ultimate success will hinge on your ability to do exactly one thing well—you guessed it—keep promises.
This is making a difference. This is the stuff meaningful work is made of.