Work is…Well, Work

Like many of you, I am always reading – articles, research papers, Facebook posts, novels, and non-fiction.  Thinking about the worlds I find in books is what keeps me sane.  I learned to read as a toddler, and I needed books – not stuffed toys – in order to go to sleep.

At the moment, I’m into reading stories, including Harry Potter (which I’ve not yet read), and Amy Schumer’s book “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.”  Amy Schumer is a stand-up comedian who has her own show and a Netflix special.  Her book really got me thinking about how the most seemingly talented people are often the most hardworking.

Schumer spent years doing as much stand-up as she could.  She talks about the day she thought up a great joke, and how she subsequently became obsessed with performing – often doing more than one show per night (while, naturally, working at another job to pay the bills).  She says that only after being booed off the stage, repeatedly, was she able to truly own her jokes.  Only then did she become truly comfortable with baring her soul to hundreds of thousands of people.  She made mistakes.  She learned.  And she worked at it.  She improved.

As humans, we like doing what we’re good at.  Mastery feels good, especially when you don’t have to work at it.  Failure feels bad, so we try to avoid it.  But work is work.  Whether you are crafting a great joke, performing open-heart surgery, or answering phones in a call center – excellence requires practice.  And while practicing we make mistakes.  It’s how we learn.  If your dream is to become a lawyer, but you don’t do any of the homework while in law school, then you probably aren’t going to be a very good lawyer and you won’t be a lawyer for very long.  It’s great to chase dreams, but there is work involved.

A mentor from very early in my human resources career once told me that the only people who make zero mistakes are the ones who don’t do anything.  I think that is actually a quote he got from somewhere else, but it’s true; unless you consider doing nothing to be a mistake as well.

As a coach, I will always encourage you to be mindful of what kind of work truly aligns with your values and which alights your purpose in life.  I believe the world would be a much better place if this were the case.  But I will also hold you accountable for the work required to achieve your dreams.  And I will support you as you experiment and make the mistakes required to build mastery.

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