While a good percentage of our lives are spent working (probably too high a percentage), we all have things that we enjoy doing when we’re not at work. Hobbies, pastimes, interests, or diversions; whatever we call them, we all enjoy a little downtime every now and then. Whether they involve time with people we love or time alone to ourselves, it’s these little enjoyments that help to keep us going and make the daily grind of our 9-5 easier to take.
Regardless of what we do to decompress, whether it’s hunting, fishing, running, woodworking or something else, each of these pastimes involve some level of skill. Each of them is a craft that takes time to develop. Most of us didn’t bag a 10-point the first time we tried to draw a bow. Most of us probably didn’t even make it into the water the first time we tried to cast. We didn’t win the Boston Marathon the first time we hit the pavement and we likely lost a small piece of a finger (or three) the first time we tried turning wood on a lathe.
The point is that each of these talents took time to develop. We got better at them as we worked on our craft. If we stuck with it and practiced hard, we likely became better and better at each of these specific skills. We became a better shot, developed a more precise casting motion, established a more efficient stride, or honed our processing skills on that lathe with each session.
We worked hard to achieve the level of expertise that we were comfortable with, and likely practice often to make sure we’re able to maintain the talents necessary to succeed in our chosen pastime. Whether it’s target shooting or getting in a few miles on the treadmill, we go to great lengths to make sure that we’re always on top of our game. After all, what’s the point in doing it if we’re not going to do it right?
It’s easy for us to understand that we’ve got to put in the work if we want to get better at one of our hobbies. We know that to become a better hunter, we’ve got to practice our shot. To be a better woodworker, we’ve got to make something really ugly before we get good enough to make something beautiful. We have no problem laboring away on getting better in these areas.
Practice makes perfect, they always say.
So why should our jobs be any different?
What? Practice my job?
Unfortunately, many of us would never consider doing anything extra to better ourselves at our job. We do what we must in order to get by and we go about our lives. The thought of doing more than we have to, investing extra time and emotional energy into learning more about our job is just not something that registers on our radar.
If we’re required to do 20 hours of continuing education to keep our license renewed, then 20 hours it is. We’re looking for the quickest and easiest way to get that piece of paper that says we did our 20.
That’s it; I’m done for the year!
If we step back a bit and look at our situation from a different point of view, it can seem kind of crazy that we resist doing anything extra to get better at our job. If we stop to think about it, it’s really our career that provides us with the time and money we need to pursue those pastimes that we love so much.
Why are we so excited about putting in the hours to get better at our hobbies, while we resist investing the same amount of emotional capital when it comes to our profession?
The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.Jimmy Johnson
Why shouldn’t we be just as enthusiastic about becoming the best home inspector we can be as we are in becoming the best hunter/fisherman/runner/woodworker? Why do we spend our downtime walking around Cabela’s, reading Runner’s World magazine or checking out new woodworking tools on the web, but we won’t give a second thought to checking out something that may help us to become a better home inspector?
The answer is actually pretty easy to figure out. It’s because investing the emotional labor necessary to do it is hard. It’s a whole lot easier to spend our time relaxing with our hobbies than it is to decide to work on our craft. We can easily understand it when someone practices their shot, their cast, runs a few miles or works on a new piece of furniture. What we have trouble with is trying to understand why someone would spend their “spare time” developing their home inspection skills.
I’m off of work. Why should I be thinking about work? This is my time!
It’s all too easy to justify our mindset. It’s what (almost) everyone else does too. Most people aren’t spending their spare time working on their shortcomings. They’re not trying to get better at their software. They’re not taking a course to become a better listener. They’re not reading a book on overcoming their fears or checking out websites for tips on how to get better at marketing.
Most people are not worried about becoming a better businessperson.
And, curiously enough, most businesses aren’t incredibly successful.
It’s pretty rare to find someone so committed to becoming a better businessperson that they’d invest the emotional capital needed to move the needle. It’s rare to find someone willing to invest the time and money needed to cross the threshold from average to wildly successful.
Most of us just aren’t willing to put in the work.
It’s really just that simple.
We’re still looking to our lottery ticket. We’re searching for those tips and tricks. We’re longing for the easy button.
Just like (almost) everyone else.
If you always make the right decision, the safe decision, the one most people make, you will be the same as everyone else.Paul Arden
Let’s stop for a moment and think about the most successful NFL quarterbacks. Whether it’s Brees, Payton, Brady, or someone else that comes to mind, they all had one thing in common. We were always seeing video of them working on their craft. Even though they were already at the top of their game, they were always practicing, always working, always doing something new and different to sharpen their skills. Most of them probably didn’t need the extra practice to operate at a high level in the game. They already possessed all the talent they needed to be good, but they always put in the extra time necessary to be great.
Most people’s businesses will move along at a steady pace, operating in that “just good enough” space. Doing what they need to survive. Making enough to get by. Never disappointing their clients, but never doing anything enough to wow them either. They’re just there; doing their job.
Providing a plain product for plain clients at a plain price.
Just like (almost) everyone else.
If we want to step out from the crowd…
If we want to do something different…
If we want to rise above our competition…
If we want to serve a higher quality clientele…
If we want to charge a higher price for a better-quality product… then we’ve got to step out onto that ledge. We’ve got to ignore the little voice in our head that’s saying we can’t, we shouldn’t or we won’t be able to do it.
Like the hunter that’s a deadly shot…
Like the fisherman who can drop his lure between two logs…
Like the runner who can push on when everyone else is hitting the wall…
Like the woodworker who’s creations sell for top dollar…
Like the quarterback who’s jersey is hanging in the rafters… if we want to be the best we’ve got to work like the best. We can’t do the minimum amount of work and expect the maximum results. We’ve got to dig deep, put in the extra work, expend that emotional labor and act like we want to be the best home inspector that we can be.
No, it’s not easy. But nothing worth having ever is.
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.Ralph Waldo Emerson
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