Things About Work I Wish I Knew Earlier – Part 6

In the last two parts, I wrote about not offering suggestions unless you are asked (#4) and about volunteering very sparingly (#5).  In both instances, I wrote that the risk of doing so outweighs the potential reward.  This week, I want to talk about a mindset that is important in reducing the likelihood that you take these risks.

#6 Keep your mind on your own job and only on your own job

I submit to you that high achievers want to be involved in as many things as possible.  They want to learn things, experience things, be asked for their input, be seen as a leader, etc.  There is nothing at all wrong with this.  The more you are with the same company, the more a breadth of functional experience and a breadth of company knowledge can help your career.

When a  high achiever is not involved in or responsible for something, he or she does a lot of watching and a lot of thinking about everything around them.  This is not something that can be turned off.  The thinking is usually starts with what you, the high achiever, would do differently to improve things.  Then, it’s followed quickly by questions or concerns when people aren’t doing what you would have done.  This leads finally to distrust, frustration, and, perhaps any of the actions that put you on the “company radar” for the wrong reasons.

What I didn’t learn early enough is that intellectually controlling the urge to act doesn’t eliminate the preoccupation and the concern and the distraction.  Take heed earlier than I did and stay focused only on your job.  Let’s things go by you without a worry.

It is important at an early stage in your career to realize that many, many things will occur at your company outside your immediate responsibility that seem wrong .  These might include times when:

  • Employees under perform, but keep their jobs
  • Mediocre employees get promoted
  • Special assignments are given to people less qualified than others
  • Decisions aren’t made as quickly as they could be, even when they seem obvious
  • Decisions that seem obvious are decided differently
  • Processes or procedures are used that are less efficient than they should be

The words I’ve chosen in this list imply that you know better and would have done something differently.  If you’ve read parts #1 through #5, you know not to stick your nose in anything outside your area.

The critical next step is to mentally ignore these things.  This post is written very carefully – “Keep your mind on your own job and only on your own job.”  You need to stay focused on your job to do the best you can possibly do.  Giving mind share to these other items can lead to severe distraction and distress and will, inevitably, lead to the action you need to avoid.  Eventually, I believe, if your mind focuses too long on these items, your mouth will open.

When I first realized not dwelling on these types of things is important, I tricked myself to get comfortable by saying two things to myself:  “I don’t care” and “I trust they must know what they are doing.”  When I started doing this, it was as if a big rock had been lifted from my shoulders.  It was wonderful.

(Of course, I care.  And, no, I don’t always trust people.  But I have to act like I don’t care and I do trust.  That’s what works for me.)

If you think about it, most things that occur around you aren’t that important and don’t impact you.  Most things in the above list have happened around you in the past and, despite them, the company hasn’t gone under.  They just don’t matter that much in the long term.  They are frustrating and aggravating, but they haven’t had an impact.  The impact, perhaps, is more on you with your increased blood pressure, distraction and aggravation.

This distraction is not helpful to your career.  It’s not worth it.  It makes no sense.  Keep your mind where it belongs – on your own job.

Previous parts:

#1 Don’t Complain or Make Waves
#2 Don’t Talk Negatively About Anyone Behind Their Back
#3 Don’t Ask Questions in Large Meetings
#4 Don’t Offer Suggestions Unless You Are Asked
#5 Volunteer, But Choose Wisely


One Response to Things About Work I Wish I Knew Earlier – Part 6

  1. Pingback: Things About Work I Wish I Knew Earlier – Recap of Parts 1-6 « Life With Spidey

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