One Simple Thing Can Make You Excel at Work

Bill Abbate

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Why Try to Be Average When You Can Be So Much Better?

Did you know if you are average, you may as well say you are mediocre? Mediocre sounds far worse than average, doesn't it? Yet, one of the synonyms for mediocre is average. Others are similar such as middle-of-the-road, medium, ordinary, common, and adequate. In other words, average and mediocre are essentially the same thing.

Who wants to live a life of mediocrity? If you only want to be just average, it is you! But you want more than that, don't you? You would not be reading this if you didn't.

Before discussing the one thing that will move you far beyond average or mediocre, let's look at what it means from an income perspective. The average income in the USA is currently at $87,864, and the median income is $61,937. Where do you sit? At, below, or above average? Are you happy with where you are? If so, good for you. If not, and you want to earn far more, let's dig further into one of the most important habits you can form to move much higher on the income scale.

Putting first things first

I will be more direct than usual in the remainder of this article, so please bear with me. If you are reading this, I believe you want more. You want to be more, to earn more, and to have more life. It is your life, after all, and you deserve only the best.

As someone who worked for many decades, listen to what I have to say, and you won't regret it. None of this is theory. It is solid, practical advice. Suffice it to say, I achieved a great deal during my career and speak from experience.

If you are doing what the average person does, you will likely get what they get – an average income. To separate yourself from the average requires you to do one thing – to put first things first.

"Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities. It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you." Stephen Covey

Sure, you've heard it so often it sounds cliché, but it is far from that when you understand it the way high-income earners do. Know this, most high-performing, highly paid people spend their most productive time doing what matters.

To know what matters means you always understand how what you are doing impacts your future. You know what you want a year and several years down the road and are actively engaged in the steps to take you there. To get to this point requires some self-reflection and careful thought to understand what you want, setting targets, and doing the planning. You have done this, haven't you? If not, why not do it as soon as you finish this article?

"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!" Benjamin Franklin

Most people function at peak productivity in the morning. What is the first thing you do each morning? Is it to ease into work, check your email, chat with a colleague over a cup of coffee, work on something mundane, or something similarly low-key? If so, STOP IT! Don't let another day go by unless you are happy with where you are in life and want nothing more.

When I was in the corporate world, I used this tactic to rise far above most of my colleagues. It was customary in one company I was with to work late to show how dedicated you were. I broke with their tradition by being an early bird and came in one to two hours early each morning.

By the time most of my colleagues and boss arrived, I had done as much work as some of them would all day. I never stayed late and was criticized at the beginning. Then the results of my efforts started showing up. Over time, the entire office changed. I was proof in the pudding that it was good to get started early, and staying late didn't matter.

Staying late was nothing more than a bad habit. Everyone did it because that was the way it had always been done! In my previous position, I had learned most people's productivity nosedives in the afternoon and after, so why stay into your least productive hours? How silly it is to do something like working late to try to impress someone.

Spend your most productive time, the first couple of hours or so in the morning, doing something that matters. You will then take pressure off the rest of the day and enjoy even greater productivity with less stress in your off-peak hours. Additionally, you will gain the benefit of enjoying life far more than most people. You will also multiply your productivity compared to the average person.

Imagine what you can produce in two hours of concentrated effort each morning! During a year, that is 500 hours of real productivity. That alone will separate you from the pack. Now imagine adding more productivity on top of that! What could you accomplish, except extraordinary results? Extraordinary results equal increased income far, far above the average.

"Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first & we lose both first and second things." C. S. Lewis

Final words

It is a simple matter to become above average in your job performance and subsequently your income. Not always easy, but it is simple. Do the most impactful thing before doing anything else. Make it a habit. Your productivity will soar.

I know of very few employers who will not pay more for a highly productive employee. Only mediocre organizations dare pay their people the lowest possible wage. They don't deserve you, and you don't want to work for them in the long run. High performers will always find employers who pay more or will be found by them. If you are self-employed, so much the better. Doing the right thing first thing each day will add far more income to your business than anything else. But you know that, don't you?

Why not sit down and give thought to what you want in the future, set a target with some interim targets, make your plan and begin applying your time in the best way possible?

I leave you with the words of a very wise man. Give them serious thought, then act on them!

"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." Stephen Covey

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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