Do You Know How To Be Awesome?
Being Great at What You Do ...
I had sat quietly for a while, not thinking about much at all, when all the sudden I felt this question pop into my mind.
"I want to be awesome at work. How do I do that?"
The Wise Woman looked up from what she was doing and peered at me over her glasses. "Now that is a question I do not hear everyday."
I smiled, thinking I had surprised her at last. "Is it possible?"
"Absolutely! All you need to do is find work that you excel at ... work you are great at."
The smile I had on my face started to fade away. The answer seemed simple, but I knew it was never quite that easy.
Finding Work You Are Great At
"And how do I do that? Find work I am great at?" I asked. My heart started to beat a bit faster as my my mind raced with the thought of finally being great at something. Something that paid me to do it, instead of taking all my money to feed my favorite past time.
"Yes, it is past time, Isn't it?" the Wise Woman commented. "But to answer your questions .... great work you love has about eight aspects. When you combine them together, you have work you are great at, that you love, and are inspired to do. It is work that is meaningful, that matters and that you feel called to do. And it lets you work around, with or for the types of people you love, in the places that inspire you, doing what you love to solve the problems or meet the needs that you love to work on."
I swallowed and managed to get out "That is way beyond just finding a cool career."
She nodded her head. The things you think about spark ideas and those lead to questions. When you set your sights on a cool career, that is what you focus on. When it is being great or awesome at work, what you focus on is different and leads to different questions and answers."
So what I think about matters?" I asked.
"Very much. More than most people realize. It works just the same way as when you played 'I Spy' or 'Spot the Red Car' when you were a child. Only now you are an adult ... but it works the same way. Think about something and you start to see clues and hints for how to find it or learn more about it all around you. It is part of the active principle of 'Seek and You Shall Find' the ancient wisdom talks about."
"But if it works, why doesn't everyone use it?" I asked.
"Everyone does, but so many people let their thoughts bounce around all day that who could possibly keep up with the requests, let alone recognize the clues and hints when they come. You have to be consistent in your focus and thinking about things the world needs or cares about ... is is part of your life path or life calling. These have the strongest connection to you, and thus are more likely to be recognized."
I smiled in puzzlement.
"So, it ..." my voice trailed off.
"Think of it like a Christmas Wish List you have sent off to SAnta Claus. Old St. Nick and the elves are more likely to send you what you want when there are 3 things on the list, instead of trying to figure it out from a list with a thousand."
"And when I get one of them ...I am more likely to recognize who it came from."
Consistently Hitting Home Runs
She anticipated* my next question, "To be awesome at work, you need to excel at the things that your immediate boss values most. The five or six things that he or she really cares about .... or thinks the upper management cares about. These are the things that get rewarded and earn you bonuses, perks and pay raises."
"Is that all?" I asked somewhat facetiously.
"Nope. And it is not that easy. You would think that your performance review would give you the list, but that is rarely the case. Performance reviews tell you what Human Resources and the boss think you should be doing. Not what is going to blow your customers, co-workers and bosses away."
I nodded, having been through a few nail biting, utterly bewildering performance reviews that left me more confused or falsely confident I knew what I needed to do.
Blowing Socks & Filling Stockings
"Blowing the socks off of somebody takes work ... and a lot of it is understanding exactly what will do that. We often think the great idea we had and are so excited about will do just that. And then it falls flat ... or we miss the mark entirely, and get discouraged."
I nodded remember an experience from my first job.
"Why does that happen?" I asked.
"You have a great idea but you have no idea of what target you are trying to hit. People care about having their problems solved brilliantly, having their faith renewed, having someone make them feel totally heard. To be awesome is to do the things that few others do, to offer deliver ... a brilliant solution or experience that is exactly what the person wanted and never thought they could get or was possible. When you do the seemingly impossible, that is when people think you are awesome."
I laughed. Doing the impossible. Could I possibly accomplish that at work?