“It’s great you can take a day off whenever you want,” he said, “Isn’t it?”
“Well, you have to be very careful about that,” I said. “I think part of becoming successful, and staying that way, is putting in a consistent effort every day. The fact that there is no boss in the office waiting to check off a ‘present’ box makes it doubly important that you force yourself to almost pretend that is the case.”
My lunch companion looked a bit crestfallen, and I could tell my point hadn’t hit home with the intended effect. He’s a small business owner who is also a vendor to our company, and one I like and respect very much. But he is a bit younger and has a few years less in the game than I do, and so I was trying to warn him off the type of thinking that can get one without a manager into trouble.
Fast-forward to Tuesday morning this week, the day after I’d stayed up WAY past my usual bedtime to watch the NY Giants in primetime at a friend’s house. Though the Giants received a hideous shellacking, I still had a good time watching the game with friends, having a few beers, and overeating — exactly what you’re supposed to do during a football game, but not behavior conducive to getting a good night’s sleep, especially when the alarm is set for 5:40 AM.
But even though I have no boss, I didn’t hit snooze and I didn’t tell my wife that I was going to sleep in. I didn’t do anything but drag myself into the shower, and that is what I’ve always done for almost five years now. And I do it, as I’ve said, exactly because the slightest relaxation in my “rules” is a very slippery slope to a very bad place.
The way I see it, I give a consistent effort to my work each and every day, working hard to roll the rock (minus the futility that image connotes) no matter what I feel like or how much the rock actually moves. Why? Because some days that rock won’t move an inch, and perhaps for a succession of days that might be the case, but there is no other choice but to continually take up one’s burden and push anyway. And I assure you that if you combine rational, consistent and intelligent analysis/review with consistent effort, you will move your rock, and you will get where you are trying to go.
But lest you get the wrong impression, I am anything but a workaholic, for I see that as just as dangerous a path. In your life, you must be very careful about how you define success — and the key is to do so holistically. By this, I mean the goal is not to just be a success at work, or at home or at play, but to achieve a degree of success in any and all areas you deem important. For putting undue emphasis on one area — such as your work — may lead you to leave others neglected, and much like an untended garden, they will wither and die.
So when you are defining your “workday” — that degree of effort which you will expend toward your career with the consistency described above — keep the concept of balance in mind. Do your work, do your exercise, tend your family, tend yourself, but do it all regularly and with deliberate and measured effort.
Following the above formula may never get you rich or into the CEO slot, but those things don’t mean much if the price is too high. Keep it balanced, keep it consistent, keep it all under review for continual realignment, and you’ll stand a great chance of having enough money in the bank and enough love around you. To me, that’s success.