Six years ago, my wife and I were walking out of a massage parlor where she treated me for my birthday. Before we got to my car, I noticed that while I was zenning out to classical music and the hypnotic touch of my masseuse, I missed a call.
I listened to the message and a few seconds later I was running around the parking lot clicking my heels in the air (yup, I actually did that)—completely undoing all the relaxing that just took place.
It was a job offer.
I could feed you a bunch of bullshit and say that I wanted to work for them because the people I met were great and that the work I’d be doing would be a challenging sort of fun. But I won’t because people smell bullshit. And if you’re anything like me, you probably wouldn’t want any of those stink lines drifting anywhere near your nose.
At that point in my life, I was 22 years old and clueless. I mean… I was looking forward to working with the people I met but the vision of their happy faces was washed out by the $ signs in my eyes.
Between my first day and now, I’m happy to report that my gray matter has evolved. I’ve learned that my day job not only pays me in monies and stocks but it gives me a second type of compensation—one that I’d argue is even better than my regular ol’ salary.
Many people mistake money as being the biggest motivator for someone to love their job and I could definitely understand why. Every time I get a raise, I have to suppress the urge to make a fool of myself like I did at that parking lot in 2010. Through the years, I’ve received more than a handful of these 10-minute “Kelvin, good job, here’s more money!” conversations.
With every raise, the high faded a little faster each time. Now, it doesn’t even last long enough for me to remember to tell my wife when I get home—leaving her to find out when she sees the bigger #s in the direct deposit.
My point is that these fading highs were hinting that there had to be something more to the compensation equation—at least I hoped there was. Otherwise, what else was keeping me from leaving to find something better?
Here’s my attempt at the compensation equation:
fair monies + excitement^2 = level of fulfillment at job
All values are subjective but here’s how I define them:
Fair monies: The total amount of monetary compensation. This includes your paycheck, stocks, bonuses, and benefits package.
Excitement: The summation of all things exciting to you about your job. This excitement is what I’m calling my “2nd Salary”. When I took on my current assignment over a year ago, I told my boss I’d take it because I thought it had the ingredients that made for exciting work:
- It makes an impact that counts.
- It gave me the chance to lead and develop people.
- It scared the crap out of me. Fear of epic failure is a great catalyst to learning.
I encourage you to take the time to think about your own compensation equation. It’s not just about the money. It’s about finding work that’s both fun and meaningful.
If you find that the level of fulfillment is low, I hope that it prompts you to take action that results in the change you want to see.
If you’re happy, I hope you show it.
Until next time, cheers to chasing work that matters!
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Landing this job was like being admitted into a great school. The admission isn’t where the learning happened. The lessons came from showing up every day, charging at problems, and putting in the work.
So, care to know the top lessons this job has taught me (excitement ingredient #3)? Read on below.
I learned how to treat people like people. Not a radical concept but you’d be surprised how often I’ve heard of people be called “bodies”—as if their sole identity was to be a thing that produces units to sell. I believe that my authenticity and the relationships I’ve been able to build by treating people like people is why I’m able to rally my team without the use of my title.
I developed the ability to remain steady in the midst of chaos. In the arena where I get to play, shit hits the fan a few times every week. I learned quickly that there’s no use in freaking out or blaming our circumstances. Instead, I accept the situation as it is and get my team into a problem-solving mode.
I found that I suck at predicting the distant future. I used to geek out when we created neat Gantt charts but then freak out when things didn’t go exactly according to plan. I’ve learned that it’s essential to have an ultimate vision but that it’s better to plan no more than 3 months in advance—too much changes in the span of 12.
It’s possible to make a dent with less. I have the leanest department in my module. We’ve learned how to use that constraint to force creativity out of hibernation. As someone I look up to recently said – you need to have the mentality of a street fighter… when you get in a brawl you make do with what you’ve got.
I became comfortable with who I am. I stopped caring so much about who liked me and who didn’t. I had more important things to do than to take myself so seriously—plus putting on a front took so much energy.
I shifted from wanting perfection to going for progress. Having a bias toward action can save millions. In fact, we delivered a project that saves the company $21/minute (or over $5 million per year) months faster than normal. Good enough is good enough… we can always choose to put the bells and whistles on later!
When it comes to teamwork, attitude is more important than technical skill. If you’ve ever had a competent ass on your team, you know what I’m talking about. The benefits of their skill aren’t worth the emotional drain they have on the rest of the team.
I learned that I can stop pretending I know everything. Not only does this take a lot of pressure off of me but it also makes room for the best ideas that normally come from the members of my team who are closest to the work.