Ever have those moments when you think your work isn’t as meaningful as you expected? Does it have any impact on others or make a difference? There can be any number of factors that make us question what we’re actually doing—an uncertain economy, endless meetings, or simply feeling disconnected and disengaged from our jobs. But in steps Michael Bungay Stanier with his new book, Do More Great Work, which helps readers find their own individual “Great Work,” the work that stretches you, plays to your strengths and matters. If you’re looking for a challenge, check out his “Six Great Work Paradoxes,” and get going in a different direction…
1. You don’t need to save the world. You do need to make a difference.
The desire to do more Great Work is not a call to abandon your everyday life and become a martyr to a cause. You don’t need to quit your job, stop earning money, give up your friends, or cease wearing regular clothes. But it is a call to do more meaningful work.
2. Great work is private. Great work can be public.
It can be nice to get the applause, win the medal, or receive the pat on the back that says, Well done! And sometimes Great Work generates that kind of recognition. But not always. Because it is a subjective matter—Great Work is what is meaningful to you—often its reward is a moment of private triumph.
3. Great Work is needed. Great Work isn’t wanted.
What calls you to do Great Work is often a feeling of I can’t take it anymore. I’ve got to do something different. It’s a personal sense that something needs to be done, that the status quo can’t be tolerated any longer, and that you need to be the one to adjust it. But Great Work is often not wanted. It might be talked about as wanted. Corporate leaders, in particular, are experts in proclaiming some sort of Great Work as the next quest for their organizations. But most organizations are rooted in delivering Good Work and sustaining the way things are, so there’s minimal interruption to that Good Work.
4. Great work is easy. Great work is difficult.
Sometimes when you’re doing Great Work it’s a glorious thing, you’re in that flow zone where things come easily. But there are times when doing Great Work will test you. It will call on not just your skills and talents, but your resilience and ability to manage yourself through the dip.
5. Great Work isn’t about doing what’s meaningful. Great Work isn’t about doing it well.
Great Work is often new work at the edge of your competence, work that tangles you up because you haven’t done it a thousand times before. You’re unlikely to be able to do it perfectly.
6. Great Work can take a moment. Great Work can take a lifetime.
Great Work can happen in a single moment. It’s a time when you feel at your best, achieving a personal triumph, the culmination of days or weeks or years of practice. Great Work can also be a project that develops over time, something that you’ve started and seen through.