Doing Your Best

“What do you mean, you don’t like proposals? You’re so good at them!”
–Former manager to me, ten years ago

My work tastes have changed over the years–I actually like proposal writing now–but my manager’s question at the time provided me some insight into how I work: even if I don’t like what I’m doing, I try to do a good job. This is a fundamental success behavior wherever you work.

You might not enjoy proofreading, meeting minutes, proposal writing, or some other task. You’re not required to do that (sorry, managers, it’s true). Still, it behooves you well to do that thankless task well. The ability to take something mundane and kick it up a notch will be noticed. As a side benefit, you can find yourself being asked to do other, cooler things unrelated to said thankless tasks simply because you did well on them.

If you’re starting a new job (and this happens to people in mid-career, not just those fresh out of college), you usually find that you’re assigned a lot of scut work–small tasks no one else wants–before you get to do the cool stuff you interviewed to do in the first place. It’s a test, naturally: if you can handle the small stuff skillfully and with a good attitude, you’re more likely to be trusted with the big stuff. Do the small stuff halfheartedly or with a bad attitude, and you’ll soon find yourself going nowhere fast.

The tasks will always be what they are. You’re unlikely to change their level of challenge. Or, to throw in another Star Trek quotation, “There’s no correct resolution, it’s a test of character.”

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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