How to Become a Star at Work

These are not the simple musings of yet another professional thinker spouting hackneyed euphemisms in the hope that one day someone will take note. These are the hard, cold facts of life – and they have been so for hundreds of years. And to deny them and continue living a life of complacency is to abandon your duty to do something special with your life. As Ashley Montagu observed: “The deepest personal defeat suffered by human beings is constituted by the difference between what one was capable of becoming and what one has in fact become.”

To become a star at work and to start seizing some of the matchless opportunities that are out there, in what I believe to be the most exciting time in the history of humanity, you first need to make the decision to raise the standards that you will work and live by. Commit to living by a benchmark far higher than anyone would have the right to expect from you. Take a good hard look at the way you spend your days and ask yourself whether your agenda reflects your priorities. If there is an incongruity between the activities you invest your energies in and the values you hope to live by, you have a problem and need to make some immediate course corrections.

For example, if your goal is to have a meaningful and rewarding work experience but you devote your days spinning your wheels on mundane tasks that never advance your professional goals, you need to refocus yourself on the things that truly count. If a rich and happy family experience is high on your list of life priorities but you have not been to your son’s soccer game in a year and you cannot remember the last time you sat down to do homework with your daughter, you need to sharpen your pencil and rework your schedule. The facts never lie and the activities of your schedule will ultimately reflect the quality of your life.

The next step in becoming a star at work is to dedicate yourself to becoming “a person of action”. In life there are three types of people. First there are those that make things happen. Second there are those that watch things happen. And third are those people who wake up one day, at the end of their lives, and ask “What Happened?” Today, make a firm decision to join the first group – the group of human beings who have decided that life is a gift and every day is a new opportunity to learn, grow and contribute.

As you go through this day, look for opportunities to bring a sense of excellence and mastery to your work. What little thing could you do over the next few hours to build relationships at work or make your clients say “Wow?” What mental attitudes could you adopt to reframe what is negative into positive and rekindle that enthusiasm that you had when you were just a kid? What simple gestures of decency could you do to show your teammates that you care and are committed to showing leadership in a world where real leaders are few and far between? As I wrote in my latest book “Who Will Cry When You Die?”: “the smallest of actions is always better than the noblest intentions,” and today is your chance to make a difference. There’s nothing really difficult if only you begin. Some people contemplate a task until it looms so big it seems impossible but I just begin and it gets done somehow. “There would be no coral islands if the first bug sat down and began to wonder how the job was to be done,” noted John Shaw Billings.