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Work Defined

Work Defined

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

I had a very interesting conversation yesterday with a good friend and client. I had recently given him a copy of my life’s textbook “The 4 hour work week” by Tim Ferriss and he was about half way through. He said that the book had triggered the spirit he once had when starting his businesses, but he had one major question.

Perplexed, I asked, “So what’s the question”. He said, “I struggle with this books teachings and work ethic. As a child my father taught me that if you were going to do something that you put all your heart and soul into your work. You gave 110%, you worked hard and good things came to you.” I thought for a moment and responded, “I think we have to redefine what we mean when we say work”.

My grandfather was a welder in a large Chevrolet plant in Muncie, Indiana. Every morning he would get up, head to the factory and weld sometimes 12 hours a day. He worked hard, produced amazing results and fed his family of 4 boys. Grandpa Delbert had a good life.

My father was a small business owner; he got up every morning, went to his office and opened his mail. He looks at every piece, sorting as he opened and then gave the mail to his staff to process. He might leave the office occasionally, but for the most part, my father stayed in the office attending to client needs. My father worked hard, produced amazing results, and fed his family of 2 kids. I’m happy to say my father is still alive and after “retiring” at 55 with my Mom, they have had a GREAT life.

Work ethic was instilled in my sister and I as young children. I had a paper route, mowed yards, ran fireworks stand, and a few other “side” businesses that helped me generate considerable cash flow as a young man.

During college, I took classes, but also worked at the computing services office learning inventory control and a little data base programming. I received a graduate degree in information and communication sciences (I’m still not sure what that means…) in 1992 and immediately joined my father’s small business. I had no idea what I was doing and simply did as I was told.

I quickly found out that I was a failure at many, many, many things. I could not open the mail, my ADD kept me looking at the squirrels outside. So, I gave that responsibility back to my father who agrees to continue to the job as his sole responsibility. I then tried to sit in the office as my father did, but soon realized that I loved working with business owners and very few were walking around my office. My fathers business was mainly business to consumer so his approached worked for him, but it did not for me.

I began coming in the office, working a little with my staff and leaving the office. I began prospecting, meeting with clients, and figuring out how to be an effective salesperson.

Today, I work out of an office no more than 4 hours a week and if you ask my staff, that’s pushing it. My job as an owner of a small business is to get things done. To me that is the new definition of work. How much work or progress can you manage to complete in one day should be the question we ask ourselves. Using the newly found Virtual Assistants, I’m able to accomplish so much more than even 60 days ago. I’m not doing the work; I outline to someone else what needs done and then manage the projects. This allows me to focus on what I am good at which are sales and managing client relationships.

Getting back to my friend. He said this book has really helped me get back to my original mindset as to “why I started this business. I can do in 4 hours what most of my guys do in 8 hours. I am efficient and I seem to have forgotten that. Today I wrote on my white board the word EFFICIENCY and that will be a constant reminder to me to work efficiently”.

I listened, I thought and said, do me a favor “add a + sign, then the word DELEGATION and then an = sign and the word SUCCESS”. He said, “I like that…thank you”. What is work? There are many definitions for work, but yesterday my friend and I took a stance and created our own formula. I highly recommend you do the same.