Working Harder and Developing the Excellence Habit

war effort

Around a decade ago I was working part-time in a gas station. 2 shifts a week at $8 an hour – it was enough money for gas and to eat slightly better than ramen noodles everyday. I can’t say I was too passionate about this job so the work I did was just good enough to get by.

One day my manager noticed the way I was wiping the counters. Apparently just wiping the surface alone was a half-ass job – I needed to wipe the sides, the equipment, and scrub harder to get some of the stains out I missed.

“Charles what the fuck is this?!? Wipe that counter like the god damn owner of QuikTrip will walk in any minute. I know you’re in Georgia Tech and this job doesn’t mean shit, but think of it as work ethic practice. How you do one thing is how you do everything. If you’re gonna be lazy at this job, then you’re going to be lazy at your future one. Step it up man”

What he said had an impact on me. Maybe I wasn’t where I wanted to be yet, but I could use my present tasks to prepare for future endeavors. At school I started to question if I was doing my best. I started projects as soon as they were assigned, I started sitting in front of the class instead of browsing Digg.com in the back, and my attitude changed where anything with my name on it represents me.

Over-time this attitude of working a little bit harder manifests itself in my career. I submit those ads even if I’m not in the mood. Instead of split-testing 2 different headlines on my pages, I’ll go ahead and test 5. And maybe it was that 5th one I thought of, that makes the campaign profitable.

The Hidden Compound Effect – I feel that putting in that extra 10% effort into anything will add up over time. Before I start lift weights, I always spend a minimum of 10 minutes warming up – A lot of guys don’t. Perhaps that 10 minutes everyday is what prevents a rotator cuff injury in the future. (BTW whoever just asked if I even lift…I heard that)

Increasing Your Workload Tolerance – This is a phrase I just made up, workload tolerance. I met a guy in Vietnam that works 14 hours a day, and 7 days a week. I know someone else in America that talks about how “hard” they work with their 40 hour a week job. Putting in more effort into everything means you won’t break when the tasks and life becomes overwhelming. You develop mental toughness.

The Importance of Each Task – Cleaning your place? Imagine your dream girl’s coming over tonight. Writing a blog post? Give it an extra proofread because that could be the post that goes viral one day. Whatever I do, I view it as highly important and deserving of my best.

What Are You Conserving Your Energy For?  – Your energy level refills back up after you sleep. The more you expend and use it, the higher your energy tank becomes. Ever had one of those days where you instantly fall asleep because you mentally and physically exhausted yourself? That’s what I want everyday to be like. To increase our capabilities we have to push the edge.

The only thing we can control is our efforts. If all things are equal, the kid practicing basketball 4 hours a day will be better than the kid practicing 2 hours a day.

Our society is always looking for shortcuts to their goals instead of working harder. Often times the “shortcuts” don’t get you there faster, but they just end up taking you in a completely different direction.

Whatever you’re trying to achieve, trust the process and pay your dues.