What makes working work for you?

If you think. Working hard. Doing the most. Delivering the best is the ticket to career success. Sometimes. You have to think again. 

Work is doable. Working is hard. What makes working work for you?


  • Why work is doable and working is hard
  • How getting ahead entails more than you think
  • Why working hard can’t get you up
  • Turning crisis into an opportunity
  • The moral of the story

 Work is Doable, Working is Hard. Why?


Work is doable. Ask the artists. The people who eke a sculpture out of a grain of rice. Or pack the eye of a needle with a work of art. Check with Silicon Valley fellow who is packing a CPU with billions of transistors. Follow the guy on a gondola who is keeping the 60 storey hotel sparkling. And the astronaut who has seen the blue marble and back. Work can be done. There are ways and methods to get the job done.

Work is doable. Ask the artists. The people who eke a sculpture out of a… Click To Tweet


Working is hard. Ask the colleague who does not understand why he is not getting the promotion. Try a one-on-one with the ‘Overnight Success’ from your office. Also, find out why your cube mate is always looking for another job. Interview the one on the way out. Is the person leaving his job, the company, the environment or his boss? FYI. Doing good work and being a success at work may not be the same thing.

Working is hard. Ask the colleague who does not understand why he is not… Click To Tweet


Getting AheadGetting ahead is performance.  Plus. Engagement. Emotions. Brand Management. The Bell Curve. The Budget. Situational Street smarts. In any organization, there is the 90% who meets expectations. From the mass of the ordinary, 5-10% rise to the top. They get all the goodies. The promotions and the special adjustments. They are in the succession plan and fast track development program. Did they do more? Do they know more?

Don't do more, Do the more important


Don't do more, do the more important. Click To Tweet

Most of the time, they did not do more. They did the more important. They knew what were important for the focal period. They also know the art of working. Instead of acting their position, they position their act. They skillfully manage their brand. With a keen mind, they quickly size up the unwritten rules of engagement. Using them for their advantage. They are masters at protecting their work.

Why right may be Wrong.I empathize with those on the right side of the Curve. Especially, those who are doing excellent work, struggling to get what they deserve. For many years, I was in the same situation.

For 40 years, I served at the off-shore plants of two Fortune 500 Corporations and a Japanese textile giant. I have been through the down cycles and the up cycles. Massive bloodletting, business consolidations and frenetic M&As. I have the start-up experience and was in a re-start (after shutdown) team. I have worked with more than 15 bosses of all shapes and kinds.

Like most of you, I thought doing good work was enough.  I was focused on getting things done. Big to do list. Ticking off all the tasks I had to do. Delivering all that was being asked. Leaving it to my boss to bestow the just rewards. For twenty years, I was mostly disappointed. One of my bosses was kind in engagement, but was running away with the rewards from my work. In fact two of my bosses were of the same mold. The third and the last. Sandwiched between them were bosses who either thought I was ‘not ready’ or ‘not strategic enough.’ Pressed, they fumbled to elaborate.

They had in their mind who to promote. Or to give the prime rewards. The 15%. The upper range stocks. The beneficiaries were not the ones who worked hard, delivered most and with the best quality. The special ones were those who were doing just alright. But they were deemed to be faithful followers. Those who promoted the boss fervently. Looked hard to sell the boss’s attributes. And they were helped by closing their eyes. When the boss, and typical to such bosses, used company resources for personal satisfaction. Such as buying personal items cloaked by business justifications. Wine and dine on pretext of off-site meetings.

Happiness in CrisisOne day, I stumbled on to happiness. I did something ‘strategic.’ Frustrated with the disorganized way we were planning to deal with an impending climate crisis, I created a structure to the information gathered.  I did not do most of the work. But the project attracted corporate attention. By merely organizing the work, the door to the leadership team was opened to me. For more than 10 years, I headed one of the most complex jobs in the non- revenue part of the site.

As the Building and Employee Services Manager, I was chartered to keep millions of square foot space clean, conducive and functional as well as providing workplace services for 10,000 employees. I would like to think of myself as a happiness enabler but I was often called the input-output manager, alluding to my responsibilities which included the café and the sewage system.

ork is Doable, Working is HardThe moral of this story. Working hard, doing the most, delivering the best. These are not sure tickets to your career success.

Don’t do more. Do the more important.

Also.You have to be in the ‘right camp.’ On the side of the boss. Be seen as supporting his success, regardless of the quality of leadership. Or ethical behavior. Sometimes, it’s a moral tug of war.  Lots of dollars more. Or a little peace of mind. It’s your call.

Sometimes, it’s a moral tug of war. Lots of dollars more. Or a little peace… Click To Tweet

What about you? Do you think doing your best is enough to get ahead?


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2 thoughts on “What makes working work for you?”

    1. Victory,
      Thanks for the comment. I am glad you enjoyed the post. And, thanks for leading me to your website. I will be visiting.


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