This isn’t one of those “Don’t just be good, be good for something…” kind of posts…though that is good advice. I’m thinking more of the idea that sometimes doing a good job just isn’t enough. For me, that is. Some people are perfectly content with their lives at doing a good job, and there’s not a thing wrong with that. Doing good work is …good. It’s something to be proud of, and something to write home about.
I’ve been in the professional field long enough to know that there are enough people out there who don’t even do “good work,” that hitting that is something to be proud of. There’s something to be said for those of us for whom doing “just enough…” just isn’t enough — and that’s what makes someone do good work.
But what about if doing good work isn’t enough. As I’m still in the midst of trying to change my career path, I constantly challenge myself with why I find my current career path so unfulfilling. I’m good at my job, and I do good work. But I realized with that thought, that for me, being good wasn’t good enough.
I want to be great. Whether the eternal perfectionist drive or the some other instinctual calling, I want to be great at what I do. More than that, I want to do something that allows me to be great. But what does that even mean? What does it mean to be great at what you do? How is better than being good at what you do?
I’m going to guess that this definition will vary from person to person, but for me being great at what I do means that I’m influencing not only my own work, but the work others all around me, people I haven’t even met. Doing great work means going from the sphere of direct influence into indirect influence. If that makes sense.
As a consultant I make a living helping people. I’m talented at it, I go out of my way to make sure my project teams feel heard and supported even in the most intense time-crunch. I ask for work, I volunteer my advice when I wasn’t asked (politely, of course). I volunteer to take on things I’ve never done before.
While that is all great and dandy, I’m already at my glass ceiling. What I consider as doing “good work” is as good as it gets for a consultant. There is no great work in consulting. There’s no next level in what I do. This is it. I can strive and I can work and I push it…but ultimately everything else remains static for me. The work, the influence, the challenge — always the same.
I want to be great at what I do. I want to always have some other level to reach for, something else to strive for professionally. Maybe it’s a hero-complex, but I want do something that people look at and say “Wow, that’s amazing … I’m inspired by his work…” Maybe it’s a bit vain? I dunno. I want the opportunity to push to that, I want a position that grants me the opportunity to be great, whether I realize that greatness or not.
Maybe this was just a ramble, instead of a coherent post. I think I can post those now and again … but I think even if I didn’t articulate it well, there’s something to be said about good at something and there’s something more to be said about being great at something.