Everyone wants to do good work.
You might not want to let someone else down.
Or you may not want to let yourself down.
We want to care about our work, but it’s hard when it just feels like work.
Here’s the Secret Sauce, Plain and Simple
Work as if no one will ever see the end result.
It costs something to care about your work. It means you invest yourself in it. Sometimes it’s easier not to become invested in our work, so that if our work gets criticized, we won’t feel upset. We won’t feel like we failed, because we didn’t really try in the first place.
When you care about the work, you pour yourself into it. That makes you vulnerable, yes — but it also means your work has the chance to be great. Your work will never be unique without a part of you in it.
You have to do the work as if no one else is ever going to see it, so that you feel free to try new things, to tweak it until you like it, to not call it done because of artificial deadlines, but because the job is actually well done.
There’s a video of Rob Thomas talking about songwriting, and he captures this idea of putting a piece of yourself into your work: “Sometimes you have to write it thinking no one’s ever gonna hear it.”
This advice goes beyond songwriting. It applies if you’re a carpenter, marketer, photographer, programmer, or news anchor.
It’s Not Work If You Want To Do It
Or at least, it doesn’t feel like it.
That’s why Confucius said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Sometimes we can’t change our job when we’d like to — but we can always care more about the work we are doing. The quality of our work is linked to how much we care about it.
Think about what you would do if you didn’t have to report to anyone. If you could just do your work, uninterrupted, for as long as it takes for you to do it right.
We intrinsically know that our work reflects on us — and we don’t want to be known as someone who does shoddy work. We don’t want to be the person who slaps things together at the last minute. We want to give our best to whatever task is at hand — that’s why we want to care about our work, so that it will be easier to do a good job.
Our Best Work Has Pieces of Our Heart and Soul
You’ve heard the phrase “pouring yourself into your work”? If you aren’t worried about what other people will think about your work, then you will be free to care about the work. You will be free to give your best effort to the project or task. You can do it right.
That’s why many startup entrepreneurs are willing to stay up nights and weekends working on their product. They care deeply about the work and they go to great lengths to do it right.
At the end of the day, you should be satisfied, knowing that the work you did is the best you had to offer.
The World Needs Your Best Work
Don’t hold back. We want to see your best work. We want to see you pour yourself into you job, your family, your hobby.
Why? As Seth Godin says, when you’re doing your best work, you’re making art. Something that no one else could have made. It has your unique fingerprints on it. Unleash your beauty into the world, in whatever way you know how. By doing your best work, you are literally making the world a better place.
Even if there are naysayers (and there will always be a few), remember that your work isn’t for them. It’s for the rest of us who will appreciate it. And for you, so you can be proud that you are not just doing your job — you’re doing your best work.