Common Sense 101. Get a job. Get paid.

The purpose of this site is, mainly, coaching the younger guys into full time production. I realized how much I didn’t teach the guys I mentored. Some of this is good for any career. Like this one.

We have had a few breakthroughs, with the work situations around here, recently. My oldest daughter got the kind of job she has always wanted. My brother in law got a job offer that pays three times what he is making now. I got into a different position, with no sunburn involved. And. A guy we are helping out, finally just got a job. Big week down here.

All the changes got me thinking about being the new kid again. You know. Just starting out. Getting your first job or maybe changing careers altogether. Wanted to offer up a few suggestions.

Stay teachable. Listen and learn.

I don’t see much need to elaborate on this one. If you are talking, you aren’t listening. If you aren’t listening, you aren’t learning anything new. If you aren’t learning, you aren’t making yourself more valuable. You need to increase in value to your employer if you want promotion and raises.

Nobody really cares how hard you work.

Yep. I said it. Nobody is looking for the sweatiest or most ragged looking guy on the job. Don’t go into an evaluation, bragging about how hard you work. What matters more is productivity. Are you getting things done? Are you doing the things that are supposed to be done? If they ask you to wash dishes, but you clean the whole building instead, you still didn’t do what was asked. You worked hard on something that didn’t matter.

If you are asked to wash dishes, do that, then do more. That’s when hard work matters. AFTER you do the thing that you are responsible for, do more. I hate to drop in a cliche, but here it is. The only difference between extraordinary and ordinary, is that little extra.

If you are just trying to prove that you want to be a lifelong grunt, then go ahead. If you want to make money, you have to prove your value. Solve problems. Increase productivity. Help them make more money. Make them look good. Do it with a smile.

Don’t step over the obvious work.

I was told recently, about a manager who had a trick for job applicants. He would kick the door mat corner up before they came in. If they just stepped over the mat, he took their application and sent them home. If they fixed the mat on the way in, they got an interview. What is the point of that?

The point is that he wanted to see a sense of ownership and responsibility. They don’t work there, yet. The mat isn’t their responsibility, yet. They honestly have no logical reason to care…. Yet. But, if they are determined to be a part of that team, he wanted to see an effort immediately. It matters more after you get hired. Don’t step over trash in the parking lot. Don’t ignore the door that doesn’t close right. Show that you are concerned about where you work. It makes a huge difference.

That ownership mentality can’t really be taught. Either you have it or you don’t. Treat that job like you own it. Take care of their stuff better than your own stuff.

Don’t get sucked into the loser vortex.

Whiners, complainers and other clowns will keep you at ground level with them. Don’t let those folks keep you away from promotion. Most of them want to show up, get their check and go home. They are only thinking about the check on Friday. They are not thinking about the long term. They don’t understand simple logic about who gets promoted and who doesn’t. People with crappy attitudes do not get promoted.

Attitude is everything. Give me a worker with a solid understanding of the job and what is expected, and a good attitude. That is someone who I will promote. I am more concerned with attitude than job skills, honestly. I can train skills into a good attitude. Can’t do anything with a bad one.

Those attitudes are contagious. Don’t allow the bottom feeders to influence yours.

Do not make excuses. There are no excuses.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Employers understand this. A person who always has an excuse is rarely good for anything. They always find a way out. They know what they can get away with. They are rarely productive. I had the benefit of working under four different guys who refused to accept excuses from me. They were aggravating, but they changed my attitude.

Do not, ever, interrupt a supervisor.

When I hire someone, I am paying them to do a specific job a specific way. If that person has proven their worth and become an asset, I am interested in their opinion. If they cut me off, tell me how they think I should do things or say “I know” while I am training and paying them… Goodbye. They have shown themselves to be unteachable and potentially useless. I don’t waste time on people like that. Most managers don’t, either.

Don’t lie. Don’t act like you know more than you really do.

Most managers and supervisors were smart enough to get into those positions, they usually know when they have encountered an idiot. If you are claiming to have experience that isn’t there, it won’t take long to figure it out. Then you are not only an idiot, you are also a liar. Don’t expect raises or promotion after that.

Be honest from the start. If you don’t know, or don’t have much experience, admit it. It’s better to deal with it before you cause a major problem

Nobody owes you a living.

I spent a lot of time with an old contractor, years ago. He never said it, but we knew his philosophy… A man is only worth what he can produce. Harsh. Brutally harsh. A very hard kind of guy to work for. But, that’s a pretty common thought process in business.

“Slackers” don’t get very far. “Undependable” doesn’t get promoted. “Repeating the same mistakes” gets replaced. “Crappy attitude” doesn’t work there long. Don’t think you can drag some attorney in, or demand your “rights” when the only issue is your pathetic work ethic. Just do your job and thank God you have one.

To the old guys, this is all common sense. But the fact is, common sense ain’t so common any more.

Our schools teach a lot of irrelevant stuff to high school kids. They don’t teach work ethic, balancing check books or how to manage your life. Part of our job, is teaching them the relevant stuff. The old guys failed me, for the most part. Most of them seemed to enjoy watching me learn things the hard way. But, it’s not so funny when those goofy kids end up with a wasted life.
Or abusing their families.
Or on drugs.
Or in prison.
Or, God forbid… in government.

To the young guys, listen and learn when wisdom is offered. See it like someone who has already survived, offering you a map to a minefield you have to cross. They are trying to help.

To the old guys, don’t assume they know. Every generation seems to blame the last one for all their problems, maybe we can break that pattern with a little compassion.

That’s your lesson for the day. Now apply it.

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