How many of you and/or your managers have been thinking so much outside of the box that you’ve forgotten about the box?
It’s an important question because the vast majority of what you do to help your customers is the stuff that’s in that box. Not the stuff that’s outside the box.
From a business perspective, that box represents your selling, ordering, delivering, billing, and collecting on your products and services to your customers. Failing to execute well in any of those areas with your customer risks losing that customer. Thinking outside the box doesn’t mean much when what’s inside the box is trash.
The same is true when managing your career. It’s pretty easy to focus on all of the other things that you want to do for your career that’s outside the box — acquiring new job skills, networking with your coworkers, being part of professional organizations, linking in and others.
But the effectiveness of the work you do is the engine that drives all the rest. What’s inside the box drives what you can do outside the box.
Two summers ago, Kate and I went to Brett Favre’s charity softball game. This, in the midst of the “should I retire” thinking. But Brett made an important comment there while addressing the sold out crowd about his charity that has stuck with me all this time: when you are an active player (in his case, football), you have a bigger impact than if you are retired. And as soon as you retire — no longer effectively do your work — your ability to influence and be effective is significantly reduced.
So it is with our work. The work inside the box drives our influence and effectiveness in what we want to do outside the box.