I love manifestos. I love the way they clearly and passionately articulate how things should or could be and provide guidance about how to get there. I was recently inspired by Maddie’s ICYMI: The Future Of Work Manifesto and Gretchen Rubin’s series of manifestos, so I decided to write my own about something I spend a lot of time doing: working.
My topic: A manifesto on being amazing at work, no matter what.
Let’s face it, we all have to work (unless we are independently wealthy), and hopefully we at least like what we do. The reality is that life is short, and we must remind ourselves that idly waiting for the perfect job or amazing project is a waste of time (it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue our search, though) and we never get that time back. So why not be amazing right now no matter what you are doing?
All I really want to do is amazing work – and make a difference (big or small) in the lives of the people I work with, the people I serve, and those I work for. I want to be inspired by others—their ideas, creativity, and the way they support and treat people. I want to come up with new ideas, make things, talk to people, help them solve problems. What about you?
So here’s the secret: Even if you don’t love your job, your boss, your coworkers – you can still be amazing – it’s just a choice. We don’t need validation from others to do this. Just amaze yourself, every day, by being the best version of who you are.
My manifesto to be amazing at work is totally aspirational – it’s what I try to do, and I have to put effort into this each and every day. When I do, I am much better for it.
So here it is – my 13 point manifesto for being amazing at work:
1. Treat everyone with kindness and grace. No matter who they are or how they treat you (which is usually more of a statement about them than you), it’s really important to do this. The world needs this right now. Don’t wait for others to be nice to you before you return the sentiment – this is a bad cycle that needs to be disrupted by kindness.
2. Listen to others without forming a response. There is usually a lot of talking going on, but nobody’s listening. Really listen to the people around you. Be inquisitive and learn more about perspectives and ideas that others have. You never know, something awesome may come from it!
Read this: How to be a better listener.
3. Be open to learning new things, every day. This includes learning new skills (big or small), reading about something you have little knowledge of (the other day I read about wolves), learning new software, etc. Remember, no matter how much experience you have, there is always more to learn. Here are a few online resources for learning new skills:
4. Relentlessly focus on one task at a time, and work in short bursts. Stop multitasking. Just. Stop. You will thank me for this later. Turn off your phone, shut down email, close your browser, put a sign on your door.
Here are some approaches to guide you:
5. Learn how to deal positively and productively with criticism and/or negativity directed at you. This is probably one of the most difficult things to do. It requires ongoing work – but you will be glad you did it. Spending time wallowing in defensiveness, self-pity or anger just makes you feel (and look) bad. Instead, try to disengage, remember you are awesome, and dissect the information and learn from it. I meditate daily (for only a few minutes if not more). No one is perfect, and yet it doesn’t mean we are not amazing. Just be the best version of yourself, all the time.
Here is a useful article and a few mindfulness tools:
- Thick Skin Thinking: How To Use Negative Feedback To Your Advantage At Work
- Headspace App – 10 minutes a day could change your life
- Meditation Oasis Podcast – and it’s free.
6. Get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour. If you already walk around for work, do it anyway – but somewhere different. This helps stress and is good for your body and circulation. My Fitbit told me to do this and it totally helps me get my steps in and it clears my head. If you have a desk job, try a standing desk so you are not sitting all day.
7. Stop working a gazillion hours every day. Do something completely different before and/or after work. It gives your brain a break and helps productivity and creativity. Working more hours does not mean better work or more productivity. Companies (and people) who focus on this and praise others who do this are missing the point.
Don’t believe me? Read this:
The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies
8.Take a break during lunch, eat or walk alone or with your coworkers a few times per week. It’s important to do this for camaraderie, a brain break, and your overall health.
9. Listen, Smile and sympathize when someone is complaining about something or just being negative about everything. But don’t engage. It’s important to let people know that you are willing to listen to them, but also that you are not going to participate in the negative talk.
10. Redirect conversations if they turn into gossip. Again, smile and sympathize but don’t engage. Gossiping and talking about others can be negative and hurtful, and isn’t good for anyone.
11. Figure out what time of day you are most productive and/or creative – and what kind of space you need. I do my best work at 6am, and lose functionality quickly after 3pm. Even if there are constraints here for you, simply being aware of this can help. Minor adjustments in your schedule and/or space can really make a big difference.
12. Put some music on and take a dance break at your desk (or wherever you work) for a few minutes. Ok, this may not be for everyone but it does help.
13. Start or end your day with this journaling exercise: Write down three of each of the following:
- amazing things
- things I am thankful for
- things that could be better
- things to make today/tomorrow great
I have been doing this for a while now and it really helps me maintain the right perspective. I can also see trends around what I write – particularly with the things that could be better – helping me to be more self-aware.