Your best is not welcomed here. This is what I realized after fighting mediocrity at job after job when in fact it rules the workplace like a five-year-old dictating a gourmet three course meal consisting of chicken nuggets, hot pockets, and Oreos.
I will never forget the day at one of my jobs when my team was given a high-profile assignment. It was going to be great exposure for our department and allow me to do what I did best: design and deliver quality trainings. I was excited until my manager made it clear that it would be a rush job.
“So you want a training that usually takes over a month to design and prepare for delivered in two weeks?”
“Yup,” he said with a straight face.
“Ridiculous. How do you expect it to be good if we have half the time to put it all together?”
“Listen, you don’t have to do your best. Just get it done,” he said anticipating my next rebuttal.
But I had nothing to say at that point.
As great as it was to have a free “do a half-assed job” pass from my manager, I was still frustrated.
This is my name.
This is my brand.
This is not how I manage a project.
What happened to high standards, accountability, and delivering quality?
At some point, quality work got flushed down the toilet like a pet goldfish swimming its last unceremonious farewell. It’s great if you are a mediocre worker who could care less. But if your brand means anything to you, it’s extremely frustrating and detrimental to your career.
A lot of times you may be put in a position to do shoddy work because the system is not structured to do things the right way. Projects are rarely given the necessary attention they deserve. Managers spend more time focusing on minute details rather than providing actual support and leadership. And you’re probably so frustrated that you care more about planning your next vacation than any other “project” that comes your way.
Although your boss may not tell you outright to do a half-assed job, actions speak louder than words: pseudo-managing, unrealistic timelines, nitpicking, and not being open to change usually equates to a half-assed job no matter how you slice it.
As you move along in your career, you may realize that your best is not requested. You may find that the conflict comes when upper-management cares more about “quick wins” than doing things the right way—which almost always takes longer.
Then there’s the realization that they don’t even deserve your best anyway (hence you place your effort in things that make more sense like vacation planning or job hunting).
How many times have you been at your job and just shook your head at the mediocrity that you see?
More often, you may notice that your standards of excellence versus those of management are extremely different. (And we’re talking Michael Jackson in the 80s versus Michael Jackson in the 2000s different).
Imagine if you took your personal brand into your own hands. In my best Morpheus voice:
What if you used your skills to build your own portfolio for your personal brand?
What If your hobby could be turned into a full-time business?
What if your daily challenge was to come up with ideas for something you love?
What If you were highly compensated for your expertise?
You’d realize that you’re too smart to have a job; you deserve a career. Until Part 2, I’ll leave you with this food for thought from The Matrix.
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
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