Best of CoBiz: Are you working for passion or a paycheck?

(Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from business performance improvement expert Larry Valant’s book, “Stop Breaking These Rules! 100 Hard-Hitting Truths for Business Integrity and Performance.” )

Truth is the grand simplifier.

“f you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

– Mark Twain

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to have simple, uncomplicated lives? They live with less stress, worry, and bother than many others seem to experience. Assuredly, there may be several forces at work, but one force which seems to be a common characteristic of a stress free life is an unswerving commitment to living a life built on truth. A simple glance at the front page of a newspaper will illustrate this principle clearly.

Simple living results from truthful behavior as little time must be spent picking up after the small messes created through white lies or what some consider to be harmless half-truths. White lies and half truths are the great complicators, causes of stress and makers of messes. White lies and half truths ruin the beautiful simplicity of life.

Truth really is the grand simplifier. Tell the truth all the time and life becomes uncomplicated.

Am I here for passion or for a paycheck?

Are you working because you care passionately or just because you have to be someplace?

People who care work with passion: They are recognized by pride in the quality of their work, joy in the successes of their company, sharing in achieving success together, helping someone else be successful, anger at not being able to do it right.

Those who must be someplace else can be seen watching the clock, being indifferent to others, not caring about success or failure, and are characterized by, “Why do your best when your worst will get you by?”

Do not waste one single day by just showing up for a paycheck. Find work about which you can be passionate and then contribute because you care. Your passion will be apparent to those around you, but more importantly, you will find personal fulfillment by working with passion toward goals about which you care.

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine….. All work is empty save when there is love.

— Kahlil Gibran

Never compromise quality – It won’t get round in the box.

I once worked with a chief engineer of a large manufacturing plant who could solve problems others wouldn’t attempt. Ron was of German heritage, U.S. Marine-like in appearance, and a brilliant and pragmatic engineer whose disciplined approach got wonderful results from his team.

True to character, Ron was a stickler for quality. When our product went into the carton for shipping, it had to be “right.” He knew magic didn’t happen once the brand name went on the carton. His often repeated statement was, “it won’t get round in the box!”

Because of his resolve, Ron was our best customer service manager. He insisted that our customers receive the highest quality product when they opened our cartons. Because of Ron’s leadership, our quality became legendary in the industry.

Ron’s commitment to quality was more than a line on his job description it was his personal undertaking. His “it won’t get round in the box” standard permeated our operation and became the mantra for all ranks of management and set the standard throughout the organization, from the machine operators to the plant manager. Not surprisingly, we had the best performance numbers in the entire Fortune 200 Company.

As a young professional, what did I learn from Ron? Make product quality a personal commitment. Never pass a problem or a decision regarding product quality to the next person in line. Own the quality issue for “it will never get round in the box!”

Categories: Management & Leadership