Advancement

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Love Your Work and the People Who Give It to You

By Jan 16,2014 Follow Me on Google+

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Summary
In this article Harrison discusses the importance of loving your work and also the people who give you work. Work is the most important thing you can have. Without work, everything stops. So respect the work you are doing. Having work is a privilege and this work can lead to more work. You need to respect people who give you work and you need to get work at all costs. It is never good to be without work. Being without work means your skills and value do not currently have a place. Do the work to the best of your ability. The only way to advance is by doing good work and exceeding expectations. Doing good work is crucial to our lives. Make the most of your job and give it your all. The harder you work, the higher you will climb.

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From the time I was 19 until I was about 27, I spent a good portion of my summers doing asphalt work around Detroit. That included asphalt sealing, hot tar crack filling, and asphalt patching. It was seasonal work and most people in Michigan only seal their asphalt once a year.

”Around Detroit” is a blanket term because I was working in three counties and in an area encompassing hundreds of miles. Essentially, I would travel to areas where people could afford to maintain asphalt. Seven days a week, I would get up as early as I could and go out to start the day at one of my jobs. Sometimes my drive was about an hour. Sometimes it was 15 minutes. Most of the time, I drove about 30 minutes.

I made this drive each day because I had work to do. Every day I had work to do was an extremely exciting day for me. Once I got to a work site, I would count on the people around the area – neighbors, other businesses, and passing traffic – to see the work I was doing. I would stop cars and tell them I was in the neighborhood and willing to work. If I was in a residential area, I would knock on doors and tell them I could do work for them. I would do everything within my power to get work, and I always got business. I worked seven days a week. I worked so hard some of my employees would quit the job from exhaustion only after a few days. There were, however, people who lasted.

In addition, while doing this work I maintained a profound respect for the people for whom I was working. I did everything in my power to do the work to the absolute best of my ability. I took the work incredibly seriously. I loved my job.

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The worst thing that could happen to me was not getting work. I knew if I did not do a good job one year, the next year I would not get the work again. I knew people talked, and the better I did in one area, the more work I got. I remember one year I showed up at a house in a certain neighborhood where I’d worked for several years, and a widow answered the door. She told me her husband had died and she could no longer afford the service. Although it was a nice house in an expensive neighborhood (where I normally could have earned a good amount of money), I really liked her husband a great deal and wanted to help her. I did her driveway for free that year and the next year as well. I wanted to work.

I simply would not take no for an answer. I remember a very nice man who owned a Chevy dealership in Warren, Michigan. He also owned a rundown mall in addition to the dealership. I really wanted to resurface his dealership, but he didn’t have the money either. I told him I thought things would one day pick up for him. I offered to do work for him at his rundown mall on days I did not have any work, doing hot tar crack filling for the cost of the goods. He let me do this and, over a couple of months, I worked there for seven or eight days when I did not have any work. I never ended up resurfacing his dealership, but I was glad for the work he had given me. He did not take advantage of me and was a very nice person.

Why would someone work for free? Because you need to fall in love with your job. You need to love what you do. And work attracts work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing something good for people. The right people out there will never take advantage of you.

Having work is a privilege. Work deserves to be cherished and held in the highest possible esteem. Work is your lifeblood. Without work, everything stops.

When I was younger I needed to get up each day and drive to go do my work and to find new work. I needed to impress each person I met each day, or else I knew they might not let me work for them the next year. For me, having work was extremely important in all respects. With work I was able to support myself during the summers and school year. In addition, work provided me the knowledge I would always have something to do no matter what happened in the world.

The best opportunity you can ever have is when someone gives you work, because this work can lead to more work.

One of the stupidest mistakes people can make is being suspicious of those who give us work. There are people who measure every single hour of their day and make sure they never under any circumstances give their employer too much of their time. There are people who cheat their employers. There are people who disrespect their customers and clients. There are people who resent being given more work. There are people who feel they have too much work.

Work is what supports your family. The people that give you work to do are the people who are giving that support. You need to respect them and you need to get work at all costs.

The only way to advance is by doing a good job with your work and exceed expectations. The more incredible your work is the more people want to work with you. The more work you are given and the more you do, the more you are seen as someone who is promotable, someone who is an expert. The best supervisors are the people who have done the work they are supervising.

In law firms where I have worked, when someone stopped getting work it meant they were not doing good work. If someone is not doing good work, they are generally in trouble. What bad attorneys do is move around from firm to firm for a while until eventually people stop giving them work and they cannot get a job.

Most attorneys exist almost day to day. They are entirely dependent upon people continually giving them work. If clients do not like an attorney’s work, they will stop giving the attorney work. If lots of clients stop liking the attorney, the attorney will be left with nothing whatsoever to do. Once the attorney has nothing to do, his or her career is over. This happens to more people than you may think.

I have given a lot of thought to the concept of doing ”good work” over the years because I think it is so crucial and important to our lives. When you do not care about the work you are doing, there is no reason for the person paying you to have you do it. When you do not care, whoever is paying you can always find someone who does. It is very easy to find someone who cares about the job he or she is doing.

You need to make each day at work the most important. You need to respect the work you are getting and you need to fall in love with it. Work itself is a wonderful thing.

If you have ever been without work for even a short time you know how hard this can be. It is never good to be without work. Being without work means your skills and value do not currently have a place. People without work are depressed and wallow. You need to make sure that you always have work.

I want to tell you a couple of stories that you may think are sad; however, they are also about two people whom I respect immensely.

I sometimes spend a good portion of my day reviewing the resumes of people who are applying to various jobs being recruited for by BCG Attorney Search, one of our recruiting firms. I have seen some pretty dramatic things happen to attorneys. In a down market even attorneys are at risk of losing their jobs. Conditions can become very, very brutal. When attorneys making $200,000+ a year lose their jobs, they often have a very hard time finding another one. In the middle-class world, from where I hail, there is a belief you should never accept a job that pays less than your last job. The idea is once someone has paid you a certain amount to do a job, that is your worth forever, and you should never take a job that pays less.

This particular belief is so prevalent that all over the United States there are people sitting on their rear ends all day doing nothing because they are waiting for a job to come along that pays as much as their last one. I cannot tell you how many careers have gone down the drain due to this philosophy, which is incredibly short-sighted.

One day I reviewed the resume of an attorney who had lost his job after about 10 years with a major American law firm. I am confident the job he lost paid more than $200,000 a year. He’d lost his job about six months earlier and, instead of doing nothing, he’d taken an entry-level job in a customer service call center. During this time, he’d actually won some awards. He was doing the best he could. When I reviewed his resume I could see he was someone who refused to give up when the going got tough. I respected him. I could see his optimism. He knew the importance of work and did not give up.

For the past couple of years, about once a week on average, I’ve gotten a massage from an older woman who comes to our home to do this. When the economy began to slow I stopped getting regular massages because work was so busy due to the number of people losing their jobs. When the woman did come by, I asked her how the economy had been treating her. It used to be you needed to schedule her at least a week in advance because she was so incredibly busy. One day things were different. She showed up with some information about a spiritual topic she knew I was interested in. She’d never brought me anything like that before. In addition, during the massage she wanted to make sure I was going to get a massage again the following week, and I could sense the desperation in her voice. I started asking her about her business and she told me it had really slowed down. She told me she was going to start doing more marketing. I asked her what she meant and she told me the following:

”I like to go and sit out in front of fancy restaurants with a sign and my massage table. People come up to me and ask me for my card.”

This is how this particular woman was finding work in a recession. Is this pathetic? No. This is someone who was staying busy and doing the very best she could in a tough market. The same goes for the attorney. He was also doing the very best he could.

I am in the career business and I see people take jobs that are beneath them every day. I have seen first-rate attorneys end up on the street after losing jobs, addicted to crystal meth and walking around barefoot. I have seen shocking things happen to people who did not have any work. Work is the absolute most important thing you can have.

My hope for you is that you will make the most of whatever job you have and give it your all. If it does not work out, give your next job your all, whatever it is. You need to put your heart and soul into everything you do. You are a special person and the world will realize this, but you need to keep moving. Never slow down. Keep working. The harder you work, the higher you will climb.

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  • arlene

    Your article is very inspiring. I too believe in a strong work ethic and strive to do the best that I can. I feel I am obligated to give 110% of me while at my place of employment. Since I am currently working as a paralegal for a self help center in California I find that I want to help those self-represented litigants to actually be able to see their cases to the end and hopefully their voices will be heard. The prefect scenario is when a self-represented litigant actually wins a case against a large collection firm. Sometimes it is even when they win a little squirmish.

    Anyway, thank you for your inspiring article.

  • This is a good reminder to everyone, and I personally find your words both inspiring and encouraging. I recall a line spoken by the late Carroll O’Conner in the movie “Return To Me”, which has always stuck with me, and which I think of from time to time: “I’m blessed with work”. To have work is indeed a blessing, hard work is an opportunity, and the good results are a blessing to the one who benefits from what you produce.

  • By the way, I knew I had read something along similar lines before. Here it is (substitute “toil” with “work”): “What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man..” Depending on what you read, that is found in either the “Qohelet”, or the book of “Ecclesiastes” (this particular quote is taken from the “English Standard” version of translation. You have embellished on on it very eloquently and relevantly. Thanks, once again.

  • Gaurav

    The writer has given a very nice piece of advice i.e. make the most of whatever job you have and give it your all. Those who follow this dictum can’t fail to make a favorable impact resulting in more jobs coming their way.

  • shoumen

    You also need to know about everything that is going on in the market and all the jobs there are. The more jobs you know about the better off you will do. Every one need a job for surviving their life.

  • Your article is very inspiring. I too believe in a strong work ethic and strive to do the best that I can. I feel I am obligated to give 110% of me while at my place of employment. Since I am currently working as a paralegal for a self help center in California I find that I want to help those self-represented litigants to actually be able to see their cases to the end and hopefully their voices will be heard. The prefect scenario is when a self-represented litigant actually wins a case against a large collection firm. Sometimes it is even when they win a little squirmish.

    Anyway, thank you for your inspiring article.

  • The writer has given a very nice piece of advice i.e. make the most of whatever job you have and give it your all. Those who follow this dictum can’t fail to make a favorable impact resulting in more jobs coming their way.

  • shoumen

    Harrison believes that the best stories typically revolve around the employee being very motivated to do a good job and continually wanting to improve in his or her employment. If some people are living in poverty and alone, spend some time with them and you will understand why they are in their situation.

  • Rachael

    Good motivational thoughts Mr. Barnes. I differ on one point. I do not believe any legal productive task is beneath me or anybody else – though it may not be the best use of your particular attributes. I supervised a special group of youth, who were the best of the best of the world. Part of their experience was to include learning about American culture and learning about volunteering. In exchange for a special program, at Nature Center, they did some volunteer work. The task was stacking wood in a wood shed. The students became very angry, because they felt they were much too smart to do “menial” labor. They believed people who worked with their hands weren’t smart. They believed anyone who held more than one job at a time must be very poor. They found out the task required much more intelligence than they had realized. It takes skill, experience, and forethought to stack wood so it won’t fall down. These students learned that you should respect anyone who works, and true masters make even the most challenging tasks look easy.

    I also do not believe that income is the same measure as personal worth, and worthwhile labor doesn’t always have to be compensated with dollars. There are many different types of productive work and compensation. For example, learning is work, and the compensation is knowledge and application. Maintaining a house is work, and the quality of life is your compensation. Volunteering is work, and the good feeling you have inside for the positive difference of your contribution is pay.

    When someone loses their job, or finds a major change in career or life, they have to adjust to the change. This can even affect a person’s identity. Often, they have to pass through a grieving process. This takes time. At that point, taking care of themselves emotionally is thier job.

    But, you are right, we have one life, and our time is a non-renewable resource. If our time isn’t filled with paid labor, we need to fill it productively doing something. Ben Franklin summed it up when he said “Do you love life? Then, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”

  • Siraj

    I agree with the notion of this writer to give the 100% at work, my personal experience is that, when we give our 100% there is a feeling of this content and happiness after which you can have a good sleep. Tho there is stress included in any work, you have to be positive coz at the end of the day you will feel content that way. Thanks for this great article

  • Susan

    Thank you for taking the time to share you inspiring messages with the rest of us. I look forward to each new message because each provides me with hope as I go on day to day. Times are tough, for all of us. But a positive attitude can make any situation better. “This too shall pass” is my favorite motto. Things will get better, all I have to do is to continue to do my best at whatever I do.

  • Charles E. Martin

    Nice article. I love my work. What do I do? I work 7pm to 7am 7 days a week, at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan. The food is lousy, I live in a tent. I cannot sleep, because aircraft take off 24 hours. I analyze the electronic circuits that make bombs blow up, and kill and maim our soldiers. The work I do saves lives. The work I do fights terrorism. It is a narcotic. I can’t wait to go work each day.

    My work is my life. My work is a narcotic. I can’t get enough of it.

    • Harrison Barnes

      I can’t thank you enough for the service you are doing for all of us. It’s refreshing to hear such positive comments coming from our men and women in uniform!

  • Sarah

    I was particularly inspired by the lawyer who took an entry level customer service job and the massage therapist who advertises outside of restaurants. They never gave up!

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