You Are Not Here to Do a Good Job

By Frank Garcia, CEO and Founder of Cycligent and Improvement Interactive

What is your overarching mantra each day when you arrive at work? Is part of it to show up on time? To be pleasant and helpful in working with others? Is it to check off the items on your to do list? To communicate well? To be skilled in what you do?

In essence, is your overarching mantra each day to do a good job?

That will not lead you to your intended outcome. As a leader I tell the people I work with, “You are not here to do a good job. You are here to make a difference.”

This is an eye-opening statement and a game changer. It changes how you approach work. You move from trying to do a good job to focusing on the vision of the organization and setting and achieving goals based on that vision.

It is possible to be “good” and not have much of an impact. If you are good, but don’t have much of an impact, you will be surprised and upset when you are passed over for a promotion or don’t get that big raise.

Being focused on making a difference, versus being good, however, changes the game, and more importantly the outcomes. You will approach things differently, everything from how you handle interruptions, to how you approach hiring.

Let’s take interruptions. If you take interruptions frequently you probably see yourself as helpful and a good teammate. Most of your colleagues will agree. You are being good. You are, however, in all likelihood, significantly blunting your ability to make a difference.

If you took less interruptions and focused on making a difference you would find greater success for yourself, your organization and your coworkers. Don’t misunderstand, this would probably include more focused, planned help for teammates. Time and help that would make a real difference as opposed to just being helpful. You would be helpful in such a way that would help them make a difference as well. It would also reduce the need for such interruptions as teammates would become self-sufficient quicker.

How about hiring? Are you hiring good people or people who will make a difference? Switching to thinking about people who make a difference will move you from hiring experience to hiring potential. Experience is still important, to be sure, but it is not, in and of itself, adequate for people to make a difference.

When I get to this point people start wanting descriptions or how-to lists. How do I get people self-sufficient quicker? What traits do I look for in people? If you are asking these questions. Stop, they are indicators that you have not switched your thinking over to making a difference. Once you have done that, seeing how to do these things will become much clearer. When you find yourself asking these kind of questions, push yourself away from the desk, lean back, and take a moment to focus on making a difference.

Besides I can’t answer these questions for you. Making a difference is dependent on your current situation in your current organization. In my organization I can make developers self-sufficient by teaching them about our particular projects and more generally about Angular 2, Node, MongoDB and TypeScript. I want to hire people with passion. But not just passion in general. I want them to have a burning desire for JavaScript and a yearning for making a difference in business (not just in the technical space). I want people who are not afraid to be great, for whom status quo is just not enough.

If you want to make a difference, what you need to train or look for is going to be specific. I tell people, if you want to make a difference avoid “motherhood and apple pie”. What I mean by that euphemism is that vague platitudes won’t work. You know like “do a good job”.

Focus yourself on making a difference and you will find that the answer to these questions become obvious. You will know how to help and you will know exactly what people will make a difference for you and your organization.

In order to improve the organization and the lives of the people in it, I remind myself each day “I am not here to do a good job. I am here to make a difference.”