Bad Work

Wasted time, effort, and life are all results of poor work. Doing Bad Work only once is OK, but twice is too much. There’s no need for politeness here. You shouldn’t just accept it as inevitable. As work goes, this is completely useless.

Organisations, seem to excel in producing Bad Work. Bad Work manifests itself in the form of bureaucracy, endless meetings, long emails, death by powerpoint presentations, outdated procedures that waste everyone’s time, and other methods of doing things that are restrictive rather than productive.

Good Work

Good Work is the work you’re comfortable with, like, and probably good at. There’s nothing wrong with putting in a majority of your time to Good Work. An individual’s education, experience, and background all contribute to the development of their potential to produce quality work. In essence, it’s a blessing to one’s comfort, well-being, and prosperity.

Good Work can take many forms. The task ranges from exciting and entertaining to mundane, but you accept the latter because you know it must be done.

Good Work is a must in everyone’s life. Good Work is crucial for the success of any business. It’s what keeps a business afloat and what will bring in the most money in the coming months.

Great Work

Everyone hopes for an increase in the quantity and quality of Great Work. This is the kind of work that matters to you because of the impact it has on the world. Great Work motivates growth and discourages mediocrity. Great Work is doing work that matters.

Great Work is relaxing and challenging at the same time. It keeps you interested and engaged to the point that you can even experience the rare ‘flow state,’ where everything seems to come together smoothly and you perform at your peak.

The reassurance originates from the “sight line” that it provides to your most important values, beliefs, and goals for making an influence in the world.

Great Work, however, is also a source of worry and unease. This is because there is always some degree of uncertainty and potential for failure when dealing with new and difficult tasks that comes with Great Work. This is important, meaningful job, and you don’t want to see it fail. However, there is always a chance that it will, given how unique and difficult it is.

Great Work is the engine that drives strategic differentiation, creativity, risk-taking, and long-term viability in businesses. Great Work drives businesses forward.

These are three definitions that are not too difficult to understand. You are probably nodding and thinking something along the lines of: “Yep, I get that. But how exactly can you strike the perfect balance? How would you describe the ideal mix?”

The fact of the matter is that there is no ideal mix. It takes a lifetime of work to perfect the art of producing Good Work alongside Great Work while avoiding Bad Work.

Even if you do manage to strike a balance between the two [Great + Good Work] right now, it will shift with time. One year from now, the recipe that turned out to be the most successful won’t work.

This is due to a multitude of variables, including the following:

1. The Great Work is lost over time. Great Work eventually deteriorates into good work as time passes. Previously you have mastered Great Work to the point where it is no longer difficult or unfamiliar to you, it will no longer give the same level of challenge, growth, or benefits as it once did. The Great Work that you produce today won’t be the same as the Great Work that you produce in five years.

This is like the hype brought by the iPod syndrome. Do you remember how remarkable and exciting iPods were when they initially became available to the public? Now that everyone has one, we tend to take their availability for granted.

It’s thrilling to do Great Work at first, but after a while, it just feels like Good Work.

2. There are benefits associated with doing Good Work. Even when we have an insatiable appetite for more Great Work, we find ourselves continually lured back to the security of Good Work. The challenge, risk, and reward of the Great Work pitted against the familiarity, efficiency, and safety of the Good Work creates an ongoing source of tension.

Good work is safe and comfortable. We can do Good Work with our eyes closed. Plus everyone is happy, so why not camp here, for the time being.

3. The passage of time necessitates other courses of action. Some years are “stretch” years, in which you go for it, other years are years in which you preserve your strength, gather ideas, and create the framework for your subsequent endeavour.

This ebb and flow brings to mind the message on an anniversary card I once saw: “Thanks for 20 wonderful years… 7 ordinary years… and 2 years that were complete and utter disasters.”

But there is one thing that I am willing to bet you have never admitted to saying: “I have too much Great Work.” Simply because no one ever says things like: “My life is just too exciting, too stimulating, too engaging, too satisfying, or too controversial… “ Nobody ever utters the phrase: “I don’t want to do any more of that Great Work.”

So, whether you’re eating lunch, waiting for a teleconference, or riding the train home, grab a book and a pen and scribble what mix you’re in right now, and what mix you want to be, and begin making intentional efforts to go towards your preferred mix.

The journey is the reward.


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