Get better at what you do. It’s a pretty straightforward concept, isn’t it? As we get better, we get faster and we earn kudos from our employer. We earn raises and bonuses. These are not new concepts…but when we work in absentia from the home office, we operate on our own. It’s easy to become lax, to take it a little easier when there is no one looking over your shoulder, right? Big mistake!
We have two options as independent workers. We can work at the highest level or we can gradually diminish our efforts, still earning the same pay. What are the consequences of these choices? Specifically, what happens if we choose to fall into the path of least resistance? I call this the garden of life principle.
I love a large garden. I like fresh produce and lots of it. At the beginning of the growing season, when spring fever is at its height, I plunge in like a whirling dervish. I weed, clean out beds, transplant seedlings, and meticulously weed every nook and cranny of the garden. After a while, when June’s heat saps a bit of my gung-ho energy, I weed in the cool of the morning. I may not get the whole garden weeded, but I make my rounds over the course of the week. It is no longer pristine. In July I get a little more lax. I’m busy picking and canning, so weeding takes a backseat to dealing with all the produce. By August my garden looks like a small forest if I’m not careful, and vegetable production ceases when the plants have to compete with weeds for drops of moisture. Do you see a trend here?
The same slippery slope can affect your work as a marketing rep. The Second Law of Energy and Thermodynamics proves that we drift into chaos when there isn’t an active effort to combat the path of least resistance. The disturbing thing is that these patterns form bad habits in the rest of your life. James Clear in Atomic Habits suggests that habits change the course of your life…the course of your life!! That’s pretty sobering, isn’t it?
Give a little here, rest a little there, and you wake up two years later never having attained any of your goals in life. Those insidious habits leading you down the path of least resistance have been your downfall, and you suffer for it.
But what happen when you impose high standards upon yourself? What happens when you operate at the top of your game whether anyone is looking over your shoulder or not? Your next opportunity in life is going to come from someone who is watching the way you work and likes your performance. It’s true. While an employer must post a position, he/she is always looking for the right candidate, who is often outside the company. Top Traits employers look for include intangibles like a good work ethic, dependability, a positive attitude, integrity, self-motivation. These are not bullet points in your resume. They are the intangibles you must show to prospective employers. And they are watching. They are always watching.
Be the best you can be, and you will be noticed. I guarantee it. Be like my garden in the spring, not the weedy mess of August. Be your best.