November 15, 2016
Great work requires focus and concentration
Are you really ready to hold down a responsible job? You need more than technical ability. The ultimate sign of readiness is productivity coupled with excellence. Can you produce value commensurate with the pay you receive? If not, nobody will want to hire you.
In any field of work or play, focus and concentration lead to the best results. No matter how good you are with mechanically, if your head is not in your work, you’re not what I call job-ready.
An old saying familiar to skilled trade workers is “measure twice, cut once.” It means putting your head to work along with your hands. Focus and concentration will help you avoid mistakes.
Focus and concentration will also help preserve your life and limbs. Trade work can be dangerous. Job sites are filled with heavy and sharp objects, obstacles and debris, power tools, electrical currents and hazardous materials. Clumsy workers are a hazard to themselves and everyone around them. A long and injury-free career demands focus on the job at hand and concentration on the task at hand.
The manual aspect of the trades comes pretty easy to some people. They are so skilled working with the tools they don’t really have to think much about what they’re doing. They can daydream and still get a job done that may seem good enough for many purposes. But that’s not good enough to reach the top ranks of your chosen profession.
I started thinking about this in the past couple of weeks while watching the major league baseball playoffs and World Series (a once-in-lifetime thrill for this long suffering Cubs fan!). The close-up interaction of pitcher vs. batter is one of the most intriguing aspects of televised sports. You can see the intensity of concentration on the face of the pitcher and batter. “What pitch can I throw him that he’s not expecting, and how close to the edge of home plate can I get it?” the pitcher is saying to himself. “What’s they guy going to throw me and where?” goes the thought etched on the batter’s face.
You can also see this intensity in the demeanor of top golfers. Phil Mickelson, Rory McElroy and other top pros don’t always have more physical ability than the guys who never win on the PGA tour. Even the also-rans among the professionals can make the same shots as the top players. But not when the chips are down. When the TV camera shows a close-up of golfers addressing the ball, you can notice a look on the face of the also-rans that says, “I hope I don’t mess up this shot.” The same look on the face of the Mickelsons and McElroys reveals them thinking, “I can make this shot!”
That same confidence separates the top ranks of skilled trade workers from those that barely hang on to their jobs and are always bouncing around from employer to employer. Top performers are not interested in producing work that is “good enough.” They study, focus and concentrate on ways to assure that their work stands the test of time. They want to sit back afterwards and beam with pride, thinking “I built/fixed that.”
Are you like that? If so, you’re on your way to being job-ready. I’ll have more to say about this in my next blog.