Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.
There’s a quote often attributed to Henry Ford that floats around Pinterest a lot:
Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.
Another one, attributed to C.S. Lewis, says:
Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.
Same idea, and one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
What does it mean to do a good job?
We know that most of you reading Man Vs. Debt are income-earners. Maybe you work at a job, or maybe you’re an entrepreneur, or maybe you do some of both. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home spouse or parent whose job is to keep up with all the family’s schedules and home needs.
In any of those cases, what does it mean to do a good job? I’ve been thinking about that lately because, as someone who works almost entirely freelance and from home, I don’t have the traditional boss two desks away, performance reviews every year, and all of that.
No, I have two dozen clients in states around the country and countries around the world, most of whom are taking me sight-unseen. That’s a lot of faith on their part – and I don’t want to let them down.
That said, it’s often easy to “phone it in,” as my husband calls it. You know what that looks like. To do just enough, but not more. To answer a customer’s grouchy email with just a touch of terseness yourself – not enough to get “in trouble” for if someone else saw it, but enough to be obviously impolite. To be a little slower on that fix, or a little skimpier on that research, because, really, “Who’s going to know?”
The fact is, YOU know. If you’re doing a good job, you know it (and hopefully are taking pride in it!) If you’re not, you know that too.
And when you’re self-employed (and even if you’re not), I’ve come to realize that you never know who’s watching and what future opportunities those people might provide.
A real-life example
Through our family’s personal website, I’m part of a blogging network for homeschoolers. It’s not a paid position – it’s more of a networking and support group – but we have writing projects that we can choose to contribute to, themed post days where we all write on a particular issue, and so on. There’s also a private forum where members can ask for help or feedback.
From the start, I’ve tried to participate in – and “do a good job on” – as many of the group’s writing challenges as possible. I’ve tried to be active in the forums, giving feedback, promotional help and advice where I can. I’ve joined related groups based on specific offshoot topics of the main group.
I hadn’t been doing this “expecting” anything. I do it because I hope that I can help in the ways that I received help when I was new to that niche, and because I want the group as a whole to be successful.
Um, guess what?
You never know who’s watching.
I’ve had six freelance jobs in the past month doing web-design and social-media work for members of these groups, netting close to an extra $1,000 toward our debt tsunami. I’ve never “advertised,” though occasionally when I give advice I will mention that I work online in various capacities, mostly to show that I maybe have some idea what I’m talking about.
And it all came because I did a good job when I didn’t think anyone was watching. I gave advice that maybe I “should” have charged for, for free. I wrote some of the best content resources I’ve ever produced as part of a post series.
And when I did that, little did I know that people were watching. Sometimes, the people who later asked me to work with them for a fee were the people I originally helped, but at other times, the work came from those who said, “Hey, I saw how you answered so-and-so. It made me think that you might be able to help me with XYZ.”
It’s not “What’s in it for me”
I hesitated to share this story, because the message I don’t want you to get is that you should always do a good job because you can expect it to financially pay off. That’s not the point here.
If I have a point, it’s this: When you do a good job, it brings good things.
Maybe it’s a promotion at your job, sure. Maybe it’s a recommendation of your work by a client to a friend of theirs. But maybe it’s just some goodwill, or being able to have a sense of pride in what you’ve done, or the knowledge that you made someone’s day a little better.
It’s easy to do an “OK” job, whether that’s for your boss, your clients, or your family. Are you willing to do a really good job?
We’d love to hear your stories about the good things that come from doing it right in the comments.
I hope you’ll share!