Why You Should Be Careful How Much You Give At Your Job

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Bottom Line Up Front: Bring to your workplace what it values most. It may not be what you think and you may be sabotaging your own success without knowing it.

How much do you bring to your job each day?

The great Jim Rohn said, “Always do more than you are paid for as an investment in your future.”

Pure gold, gentlemen. Do more than you’re paid for. More value, more drive, more attention to detail, more professionalism. Add value to every task. But how much more?

The first time I worked for a large corporation, I had just shut the books on my first business. I didn’t want to give up on my ultimate goal but had a family to feed and promises to keep so I took a job. It felt like I was going into prison so I built a lifeline to an entrepreneur to keep my dreams alive. He recommended I hire an Executive Coach. She was expensive at the time and worth every penny. She taught me many crucial lessons; one was to invest in myself. Another valuable lesson she taught me went as follows.

“Mr. McGurk, how much energy do you bring to your job each day?”

In our first session she asked me that crucial question. I gave the winning, A+ answer, if you’re in school.  I answered truthfully and said “110%.” Then she asked a more important question. The key question.  

“How much does your employer pay you to bring to the job?”

I pondered this. I hesitated to answer. Then, the follow-up. “How much could you bring to the job to satisfy your employer’s expectations?” I smiled before I answered.

“70%.”

“OK. Bring 80%.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Know the kind of man you are. If you bring 110%, you might be a disruptive influence. Remember, you’re playing on their field, with their ball, by their rules.”

Bring more than you’re paid for, but not so much you disrupt the system you serve.

Counter-intuitive: throttle back. Be enthusiastic, energetic and attentive to detail, but don’t make people uneasy. That’s the secret to success in a large, system based organization. Figure out the system and plug in. As an employee you are a guest. You are benefiting from something created by others. Once I throttled back and focused my energy, my path was clearer, my progress smoother and I succeeded as long as I stayed. I was succeeding when I left, but I couldn’t conform more than I already was.

Call to Action: Right now, quickly, write down the top three qualities in you your organization values the most. Next, think. Think about how much you bring to the fight each day. Is your energy and effort enough, too little or too much? Ask for an evaluation from your boss, run your findings by him and have this difficult conversation.