Work- Get Your Hands Dirty
GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY
I grew up on a farm in rural Indiana. Undoubtedly, this shaped not only my perception of work, but also continues to impact and influence the decisions I make to this day.
For those maybe not in the know, on a farm you tend to get your hands dirty. You pitch in wherever necessary no matter if it’s your chore or not. In fact, a day of not getting your hands dirty quickly feels like a day wasted. There is always a lot to be done.
It then makes a ton of sense that my feelings of accomplishment come from not just the job being done, but the dirt covering my hands to prove it.
FROM FARM TO CITY
Making the leap from farm life to a corporate job is bizarre. It’s difficult to explain but I’ll give it a whirl.
To boil it down, I think my number one struggle came with what I perceived as complacency in others.
My lens: when you see a problem, you jump in and fix it. In fact, work hard for the results you want. It’s THE ONLY way success will come.
Identify. Get dirty. Solve. Succeed.
This concept didn’t seem to always apply in a corporate office environment. While there were processes and accountability chains in place for a reason, it was a source of contention for me. If we’re being honest here, while the contention has mellowed out on some level, it’s still a deeply engrained urge I actively work on to keep in check. And not to perfection.
Not understanding why someone WOULDN’T just identify, address and ultimately solve problems feels frustrating. Regardless of processes, roles, and responsibilities within org charts.
“I honestly don’t care whose job (chore) this is, let’s dive in and fix this together. Get our hands dirty!”
This go-getter attitude left unchecked though can lead to burn-out and maybe more accurately victim mentality. Constantly being the one to dive in and fix, do, get your hands dirty… you quickly become labeled as the go to person for everything.
Leading eventually to the view of everything happening TO YOU, not FOR YOU.
Lack of control.
Without boundaries or even understanding how to establish them, the answer “yes” becomes a contentious “sure” over time. (Read that “sure” with a ton of sass. Yep, that’s better.)
Feelings of resentment towards others who don’t have the same get your hands dirty attitude you have. Even feeling taken advantage of as you put out all the fires time and time again.
The dirt on your hands now becoming mud. And you’re stuck in it.
BOUNDARIES & EMPATHY
After feelings of resentment and frustration began bringing out qualities in me that I really didn’t like, a good hard look in the mirror revealed something.
In fact, it was twofold.
First, I needed boundaries. I’m only being a victim because I’m allowing myself to be a victim. As a child of the 80’s, “Just Say No!” Time to put my foot down and decide what I will and won’t do.
Second, a higher level of empathy and emotional intelligence was necessary. Understanding my lens on the definition of work is not shared by the person next to me. And the irony? THAT IS OKAY.
Definitely a bit of an epiphany.
Frankly, everyone has a different lens created through their background and life experiences (throw in a mind blown emoji here for yourself). Who knew?
My definition of working hard was in a very tangible sense. Chores, maintaining a lawn, and getting my hands dirty from time to time give me a sense of accomplishment. Fulfilling a value established in my childhood of what hard work means.
The dichotomy of this exists when another person works hard to ensure processes and procedures are followed. Their version of working hard lives and breathes in a place of alignment for larger goals. Ensuring people stay in their lane for a smooth flow.
While this isn’t my definition of work initially. I can now appreciate a new lens and even the paradox mindset this creates if we allow it.
Yes, I’m proud of the fact I will work hard and come into situations with an opportunity mindset. However, I’m equally proud of the evolution. Every day you DON’T HAVE TO get your hands dirty. Days off are sometimes just as important as days you put in tireless work.
Additionally, I’m coming around to the need for process improvement and alignment as a sign of hard work. Sort of… it’s a WIP.
What influences from your background impact the decisions you make towards work today? And what’s one opportunity to look at this from a different lens? Try on the paradox mindset hat for a minute. You just might surprise yourself.
“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.” — Seneca