Working at the speed of the Internet has one strong disadvantage: we can very easily get caught up in things that seem new, shiny, and interesting, and lose sight of our goals. Similarly, we can run amuck chasing Internet popularity and slip off the path to what we’re really trying to accomplish. And finally, we can get so caught up in the churn that we think “information” of any kind is what we need to keep on top of, not “information that’s pertinent.” Here are a few common traps one might fall into on the way to something bigger.
There are some basic things we have to do to get through a day, be that at our job, or in life in general, but these tasks aren’t the “good stuff.” They’re just things that need doing. Sometimes, we get stuck in this loop where we think, “Well, I’m doing my job” when we’re actually just doing the “trench work” part of the job. We’re digging in the ditch because that’s part of what it takes, and we’re confusing “doing things that need doing” with “progress.”
To rise above the trench and look around, post a little sticky note somewhere in your field of vision that hints at the larger purpose work that you need to do to REALLY get the job done.
At my day job, one big goal is to create content that helps businesses understand the larger, more impactful trends in technology. That means researching and synthesizing and producing materials to help with that work. If I do things that aren’t that, and mistake that for doing a good day’s work, I’m fooling myself.
Check Your Ponds
It’s really easy to think we’re on the right path to success, when actually, we’re only doing “big fish in small pond” work. Inside companies, if we’re doing the best out of our team, we wear that with a badge of pride. If our group inside the walls is the best group, we take that as our measure. This is deadly dangerous when considering what we could REALLY accomplish.
Look at your personal “ponds” all the time. If you’re doing exceptionally well, change the game and find a new pond. In his seminal business book, WINNING, Jack Welch said this was a strategy he used at GE all the time to get phenomenal growth out of an organization that was used to thinking of itself as #1 in its field for years and years. He’d find them different fields to measure themselves against, where they were #5 or 6, and then give them the goal of getting back to #1.
Look closely at your ponds. Oh, and another thing? (If you’ll allow me to mix a metaphor here). Make sure your ponds aren’t fishbowls.
Some Ways to Check Yourself
Here are a few diagnostic questions. When you answer “yes” to any of these, remind yourself what your larger goals are to get out of the trenches, and shift from comparing yourself to your direct peers and compare yourself on a larger stage instead.
- Is this work BIG, or is it a task? (Email is a task)?
- Is this work MEANINGFUL, or is it time consuming?
- Is this work POWERFUL, or is it what we’ve always done?
- Am I GROWING, or am I at the top?
- Am I STRIVING, or am I coasting?
- Am I REACHING for more, or am I checking off a box?
Squint at the capitalized words and I think they might be a good measuring stick.
What do you think? How does this apply to you?
The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.
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Photo Credit, bls num1 fan