Stretch for Success

By Barry Maher

There are those who claim that there are no bad jobs. And that if you apply yourself to the best of your abilities, any job will lead to something better. I’d love to believe that. But I’ve seen too many people busting their butts for companies that couldn’t care less, for companies that when they get more from employees insist upon even more. And more.

Still, with any organization worth working for—and probably the organization you work for now—the following tip should apply.

Tip: If you do a superior job, even at the most menial task, you will usually be given a chance to do a superior job at a higher level.

Business expert Dan Kennedy talks about a young entrepreneur who started out mowing lawns. He worked for himself so he didn’t have a supervisor he could impress nor an organization he could move up in.

His marketing plan was to simply to do the best possible job the first time he mowed a customer’s lawn, then contract to do the same thing regularly. Beyond that, he scheduled appointments and kept them. His equipment was clean and so were his uniformed employees—once he got employees. He put out a newsletter.

His business now grosses over $1 million a year.

He hasn’t done anything new or anything particularly complicated. He mows lawns. He does landscaping. He just does it very well.

Tip: Nowadays we’re all looking for the next great breakthrough idea. But often the biggest breakthroughs come in doing something exceedingly well rather than in doing something exceedingly different.

Mozart—arguably the greatest creative talent of all time—said, “I have never made the slightest effort to compose anything original.” He merely tried to create the best possible music.

Many of us lack confidence because of what we perceive as a shortfall in education. Frequently, like much of what saps our confidence, this has more to do with perception than reality. Over 40 of Forbes’ 200 Best Small Companies are run by people who never made it past high school. Some of America’s worst run companies are run by people whose resumes are packed with impressive educational credentials and what appear to be intimidating levels of experience.

Which doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take advantage of every possible opportunity for learning and growth. You may just develop a few impressive talents of your own. And the alternative to continued growth and learning is stagnation.

“When your job no longer demands more than you have, do something else,” Harlan Cleveland writes in The Future Executive. I love that quote, because he’s saying that your job should demand more than you have; that you should never be intimidated when that’s the case; that you should have to stretch yourself.

There are bad jobs. Trust me, I’ve had several of them. They just don’t have to last forever.

© Copyright 2007, 2014 Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates, Las Vegas, Nevada  


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