It doesn’t matter what you do. It matters what you do does. It matters what the impact of what you do has on your Customer, client, friend, son, mother or husband. The more impact, the better (Hopefully, that impact is positive).
You say, “I talk to my wife 6 times a day. I’m a good husband.” Great! Good for you. What’s the impact? Maybe she wants you to leave her alone. Maybe you’re driving her freakin’ bonkers. It’s not about what you do. It’s about what is create by what you do.
Those status reports? You could write the best status reports in the world. Your greens, yellows and reds are the perfect hue. Your updates are concise yet informative. If no one is reading them you’re not doing anything other than being busy when you write them. I have a friend who wrote on the second page of a weekly status report, “I’ll buy you a Coke if you’re reading this.” No one ever asked him for a Coke. He stopped writing status reports. They had no impact.
I worked with someone a few years ago who was a partner in a technology consulting firm. His clients would ask their developers what they did. The developers would tell the clients about Java, .Net or some platform or framework the client didn’t understand or care about. The client wanted to know what the developers work produced for them … streamlined order fulfillment, enabled customer self service and bill pay, increased speed and accuracy of labor time tracking. The developers were telling ‘how’… the clients wanted to know the ‘what.’
I’ve looked at many resumes. Friends or clients want to make a change. They ask me what I think. 9 times out of 10, I struggle to get to the end. Most resumes are a boring laundry list of BS jargon and pointless activities. They are a list of tasks that someone did for the last 10 years of their life. Nowhere do I find the product their effort produced – no outcomes. With no product, they can’t speak to impact.
I ask these friends and clients, “What results did these activities produce?” I get the perturbed look a dog gives watching someone do yoga.
We’re taught in the language of activity. We’re trained in the mindset of tasks. It’s the product of the Corporate Era. Results obscured, unknown or misunderstood. A disconnect between our daily actions, their outcomes and what that means for the business. Our language has not evolved to accommodate the the new economy we live in.
We put ourselves in a dangerous spot when we think in terms of what we do. We can delude ourselves into thinking that we’re adding value when we’re spinning in circles.
The next time someone asks you what you do, tell them the results you produce. Don’t tell them the activities that you do. Tell them what you do does. If they want to know more, they’ll ask. If they don’t ask, they might not care.
We assume what we’re doing has a purpose – or we wouldn’t do it. Find out. Validate the assumption. Ask. Ask your Customers, your Leaders, people on your Team. Ask strangers, ask your shrink, ask your husband or wife. They’ll be happy you’re interested enough to ask. You’ll be happy to find out where you’re wasting time.
Focus your activities on producing an impact. Stop doing things that don’t produce specific outcomes. You’ll waste less time and get more productive. More people will start to care more about what you do.
The more people care, the more impact you can make.