work

There is a fine line between an impressive interview and an obnoxious one; your credentials become irrelevant rather swiftly if your potential employer thinks you’re an ass.

Modesty comes at no cost, and respect is an investment which always pays dividends.

In an interview, the best chance you have at success is being the genuine best person for the job.

And when we’re not the best applicant for one role, the only sensible course of action is to become the best applicant for the next.

Writers less creative than you have published books.

Producers less organised than you have made movies.

Entrepreneurs less intelligent than you have built million dollar businesses.

You are not the sum of all your parts.

You are the sum of how well you work. Not how hard, but how effectively.

We don’t run out of time, we simply fail to seize enough of it.

That big project you’ve been meaning to get around to for weeks isn’t finished for one of two reasons:

Either It’s not as important as you think it is;

Or you’re scared.

Both are entirely valid, but it’s important to know the difference.

If it’s not that important, kill it. Then find something that is.

But if you’re scared… It’s probably an indicator that you’re onto something special.

You’ll never be rid of the the fear involved with doing important things. But you can dance with it.

Thank it for turning up. Be grateful that it’s alerted you to the importance of the task at hand. Then send it on it’s way.

You’ve got more time than you think you do.

Get to work.

Being the kind of person who always runs late is a bad habit to have, and an even worse reputation.

Running perpetually just on time might be an even worse habit.

You get the gratification of feeling on top of things, even when you’re not.

I’m guilty of this all the time. Arriving to a 12pm meeting at 11:58am is not showing up early.

Neither is posting a blog post at 11:58pm, but here we are.

When we don’t allow ourselves enough time to do our work with care, our work suffers.

On time isn’t good enough. We owe eachother better.

Today I agreed to the terms of a big project with a mentor I value greatly.

We discussed objectives, expectations and a timeline. We scheduled meetings and identified the research I need to complete before starting.

I was warned not to work too hard over Christmas (a holiday I don’t care for), lest I spoil it for myself.

And at by end of our conversation we had a agreement;

On February 18th 2020 I will deliver the first 5000 words of a creative non-fiction text accompanied by a book proposal.

Exactly how this will go, at this point, is impossible to tell.

While the prospect a full length book is daunting, but there is no doubt in my mind that I can get the work done. What’s up for debate is whether or not it’ll be any good.

If it is, 2020 could shape up to be a year to remember. If not, there’ll be a whole lot of learning which gets done.

Either way, the possibility that I could be on the path to authorship as early as February excites my every fibre.

Watch this space. Big things are inbound.

In a letter to his daughter of 15 after her enrolment in high school, the great F.Scott Fitzgerald heralded some poignant advice to writers;

“Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one. If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter—as indissolubly as if they were conceived together.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

He argues that brilliant writing is original in both form and theme.

It’s not enough to have a story worth telling, nor is it enough to have mastered the technicalities of the craft.

The best storytellers find a way to execute both.

It’s not easy. But as Fitzgerald himself said later on in the same letter to his daughter,

“Nothing any good isn’t hard”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Strive not for outcomes, but to engage with the processes which will satisfy you regardless of outcomes.

In order to think this way, we need to disconnect our emotions from the outcomes of our work and rewire them to the actual doing of the work.

Why slave away for a bonus when you could be working on falling more deeply in love with your job?

What if instead of cataloguing your skills and achievements, your resume listed your weaknesses and failures?

This document is called a Failure Resume, or a CV of Failures. And it might be just what you need to do before you find your next success, or encourage those around you to find theirs.

The professor who popularised this idea explains it like this:

“Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible while the successes are visible.

I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me. As a result, they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days.”

Johannes Haushofer

A 2016 study showed that students who were exposed to their hero’s failures as well as their successes worked harder and got better results.

Failure is a natural part of all success.

Acknowledging this and tracking the lessons you’ve learnt from your stumbles can inform the things you might try to succeed or fail at next.

When the quantity of work required to achieve a planned outcome increases disproportionately to the resources you have available to achieve said outcomes, you have scope creep.

Scope creep is entirely common and can be absolutely paralysing, but is totally avoidable.

Scope Creep is often a product of poor planning.

Before commencing any project, you should have a clear list of specific tasks which need to be completed in order to achieve the outcome you’re working towards.

The specificity and tangibility of these tasks is directly related to how difficult it will be for scope to creep.

Vague goals generate vague tasks which lead to not much getting done.

Vagueness is the enemy of progress. Which is why we all have a friend who is still writing that ‘thing’ they have been working on and adapting for years. I have been that friend. In many ways, I still am that friend. But I’m working on it.

More specifically, I’m working on setting goals which are strategic, time sensitive, achievable and meaningful.

Aligning what we care about with what we do is probably the most fundamental building blocks for a fulfilled life.

Pouring energy into anything you don’t really care about is a slippery slope to misery.

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion.”

― Simon Sinek

This applies in work and in life. Be generously selective with you time. It’s all we have, and we don’t get to spend it twice.