Employees sell their time and energy on the labor market. In a free market, we are compensated for the value our set of skills provides the employer. Let’s assume a pure meritocracy where there are no biases and other factors at play. If your skills are more valuable, you’re compensated more. One way to increase the value you provide, and therefore your compensation, is to improve your skill set.
Business owners face a similar proposition. You have a finite amount time and energy you can spend and a set of skills that you leverage in order to create value with your business. If you want to grow and expand the impact you have on your business, you can work more or you can improve your skills.
Think of your career as a set of skills you utilize and apply to produce value. Unless we are born into a trust fund, we all likely have to spend time working until we can retire. Given the length of our careers, along with the power of compounding, it makes sense to continually improve our skills a little bit each day or week.
If you start to think in these terms, a new world of possibilities opens up to you. When you treat your profession as a set of skills that are your craft, you become curious. The mundane tasks of before become an opportunity to practice, to improve, to grow. You start looking for opportunities. You try new methods and experiment with ideas. Suddenly, things that were boring or things that were difficult are neither. You’ve grown.
You are going to be showing up for days on end. Thirty days from now, another month will have gone by. Why not spend a little bit of that time getting better? Getting more efficient. Learning as you go. Setting up processes to make tasks easier. Taking notes on how those once every 3 month things you need to do can be done better so next time you don’t have spend brain power figuring it out. I promise you, your future self will thank you for this effort.
When you take on this mindset of seeing your career as a craft and your day-to-day as an opportunity to continuously improve, you naturally start to stand out and grow in your career. You become a domain expert, perhaps you speak at conferences or become a mentor to the newer folks in your field. At the very least, I think your day-to-day becomes more satisfying and fulfilling. Rather than going through the motions you are creating novelty and growth opportunities for yourself.
So take a step back. Go a little bit slower. Rather than rushing to get as much done as possible in a day, look for the opportunities to expand, grow, learn, experiment, and set up processes to improve your efficiency and skills over time. Our careers are long and full of surprises. By steadily improving your skill set you’ll become more valuable and unlock new opportunities for yourself.