But it’s the key to surviving these shaky economic times. In fact, it's the key to succeeding in any career at any time, no matter what shape your industry, or the nation, is in.
It’s a two-part secret:
1. Do your best.
2. And then do a little more.
Think of it as tipping your employer. First you hand over what’s expected of you (the “tab”). And then you throw in a little something extra (the “tip”).
Does this sound too simplistic? Too obvious? Alas, it is an enduring universal truth that many--maybe even most--people do not want to go this extra mile. Or they don’t know how to. Or they don’t feel they should have to. Or they simply have competing priorities. If you can and do go this extra mile, you’ll stand out in the crowd. You will be such a gem that your reputation will be golden, and a golden reputation is a powerful thing.
What’s more, by consistently going above and beyond, you become the kind of person who can weather adversity. Yes, hard work makes you resilient! Hard work teaches you how to solve problems—and, even more important, teaches you that you are capable of solving problems—and this is an important thing to know about yourself.
One more thing: Hard work makes you happy. It’s absorbing. It’s fulfilling. It can be glorious, and it makes success, when it comes (as it will), extra sweet.
So do your job. And then do a little more.
Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009 (but available now for pre order at Amazon!). She blogs at karenburnsworkinggirl.com .