Today’s post is by guest author, Todd Brison. Todd is a writer who loves his redhead, Chacos, and sweet potatoes. He provides inspiration to young students and professionals who realize life isn’t exactly going the way they planned. He recently started bringing his talk “Writing, Social Media, and Life” to Universities. Get inside his head at toddbrison.com.
Here’s a cold, hard truth:
You will likely spend the majority of your life doing what someone else tells you to do.
How’s that for motivational?
It’s tempting for me to sell you on “How to Make $10,000 in a Month Online” or “Travel Around the World While Making Millions.” But since 99% of us will have real jobs anyway, we might as well learn how to use them to our advantage.
The number one issue around working for a corporation is people get comfortable. They watch the checks start rolling in and think “hey, this isn’t so bad! I could do this for a while.”
And then they settle in – cranking out the minimal amount of work (since they get paid anyway) and living for the weekend.
Here’s the worst part – that attitude is normal. Everyone from bosses to coworkers to executives tends to lean into the corporate coma. They do exactly what is expected of them – no more.
Let me be clear – falling into this trap of doing what everyone else is doing is the quickest way to a mediocre life. Just because you’re selling your soul doesn’t mean you have to dislike it.
Here are 5 ways to wake up and break out:
[ONE] Live by the “+1 rule”
Although most people around you will only do the minimum, don’t. I don’t care how rushed you think you are, always, always, always obey the +1 rule.
A little extra effort goes a long way in the world of Cube Zombies. Here are 2 avenues to take down the +1 Route:
- Do it faster – honestly, this is the +1 avenue I walk down most often. The easiest way to impress someone is to be quicker than they expect. (This should be easy as most corporations move as fast as a slug across a gravel parking lot.)
- Do it better – “better” is subjective of course, but you know when you’re phoning it in. A quick tip for doing it better – whenever you think you’re finished, take some time off and then come back to the project. I promise you’ll find plenty of places to improve.
[TWO] Learn the business like an executive
It’s likely this business has been making money a long time. Let me remind you that if you were an expert in making money, you wouldn’t be at a corporation.
Study their methods. Find out what they’re doing and how long they’ve been doing it. Find out how they got their first customer. Find out how the business has evolved over time.
Remember, corporations themselves aren’t evil, complacency is evil.
[THREE] Make time for your work
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a day’s work. There are always problems to solve and the latest “emergency” to handle (usually defined by whatever an executive has on his mind that day).
But to rise above the chaos, you need to know where YOU contribute best. Certainly don’t abandon the rest of your team because you have no interest in what’s going on, but carve out some time for doing work you actually want to do.
A creative friend of mine was hired as a technical writer (aka he formatted 87 -page manuals). Instead of grumbling about how dull the work was, he came in early a couple days and completely redesigned the covers.
Now he’s making videos for the Marketing team and is approximately 1000x happier.
Know your mission and find a way to execute it.
[FOUR] Become a chameleon
Especially for my creative folks, this one is a must. As sexy as self-employment is, there’s one thing you learn way more quickly in a corporation if you’re paying attention:
The more projects you do, the more you learn. Team A doesn’t want to do things the way Team B does, and person C will want something completely different than both of them.
This is awesome news for you.
Tailoring things for different audiences are a great way to increase your skills – not just in how well you do them but HOW you do them in the first place.
The corporate chameleon helps everyone, takes none of the credit, and makes life better for everyone who comes across him.
[FIVE] Do side work
Think setting your own standards starts at 9 and ends at 5?
Not a chance.
Use everything you’ve learned at work to a) make more money and/or b) start your own business.
Instead of letting a steady paycheck lull you to sleep, use it as leverage to execute your evil plan. (The one where you leave the building, hands above your head, and catch a plane to Tahiti where you write for a living while sipping Mai Tais)
I’ve been using most of this year to build momentum on my own blog and have made a grand total of negative $40 (Mailchimp fees).
But since I’m employed, it’s been absolutely stress-free. I can afford to chase other dreams.
You can do more than one thing, after all.
Those five steps will keep you on track. Never set your standards by other people. They want what is good for you. They don’t want what is best for you.
Working for a corporation sucks sometimes.
But if you do it well, it’s not a death sentence.