Yesterday our whole station had a meeting with a consultant, someone who listens and critiques us regularly, for our regular review. Lots of things were discussed, plenty very helpful, but one of the things that came up during a presentation we went through was ‘effort is king’ and ‘entitlement will kill any progress you can make.’ Simple messages, but two things that seem to be overlooked and lost in work places.

Our consultant meeting just so happens to coincide with a self-improvement movement that has taken over the VFX staff (it’s the focus of Drop the Mic podcast this week). A big part of the self-improving is making a list each day of tasks to accomplish each day to change your habits because effort is king. If you grind day in and day out you may not see the progress quickly but you will move little by little and it will add up for the long haul.

I don’t understand not giving everything you have to whatever you’re doing, devoting your time to make it the best you can. Several sayings that I hold to my work life are ‘make yourself invaluable’ and ‘You can always put in effort.’ I know they’re cliches but they’re totally true. No one is going to lose a job that shows versatility and you will improve and learn as long as you try day in and out. It should just be a standard of your work character.

Every time I start a new job I tell those in charge that I don’t go anywhere to lose and that I’m here to change things. It’s not meant to be an insult to those that are already employed and those that are running things, but I know two things I have for sure a huge work ethic and desire to be the best. I’m going to take the expectations and exceed them while raising the floor of what can and should be done. It’s how I show my value but also how I leave my mark on a place.

The devil’s advocate argument to working hard, trying to exceed expectations is ‘Well I’m paid for this so this is what I’m going to do.’ I have family members who operate that way and almost wear it as a badge of honor. It may be tough some places to earn more money but are you really going to get a raise if you just do the bare minimum? Are you really going to be up for a promotion if you’re not exceeding expectations and pushing things forward?

More importantly, money and security aside, can you live with yourself? I know there’s making a living and making sure you have a life outside of work and all those things, but what about attaching yourself to whatever you do at the end of the day? If you’re doing it don’t you want it to reflect well on you?

I don’t have patience for apathy and laziness when it comes to being part of my team. I’ve seen co-workers come and gone and, even passed on my criticism of them, because there are basic expectations for how things should be done and barely doing your work and leaving shouldn’t be tolerated. Of course there are circumstances out of your control and things you don’t like, welcome to life, but you can still do the best with what you’ve got and push forward. Lead by example and push the expectations because at the end of the day that’s who is going to get the trust and chances.

“Doing more work just means there’s more expectations for you.” Yeah that can be an un-fun situation at time when you’re having an off day or a rut, but good. Being uncomfortable, having pressure is going to push you to be better. Make them expect better and do better. Someone will value you and value it.