Great Work, Great Career, Stephen Covey
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Stephen Covey

Great Work, Great Career

Maria
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People who are only looking for a job have résumés. People who are looking to make a great career have Contribution Statements.
Maria
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Your great career starts, as Peter Hawkins and Nick Smith say, “when you stop asking questions such as ‘How do I get promoted?’ and start asking ‘What is the difference I want to make? What is the legacy I want to leave?
Maria
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A great career is all about solving great problems, meeting great challenges, and making great contributions.
Maria
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person with a great career makes a distinctive contribution and generates a strong feeling of loyalty and trust in others
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The old Industrial Age paradigm tells you that you’re at the mercy of the economy, the industry, the boss, the job description, the standard operating procedure, and everything else that makes you a victim. If you continue to suffer under that paradigm, your relevance, your job security, and even your personal fulfillment and health are at stake.

On the other hand, if you adopt the Knowledge Age paradigm, you free yourself. You don’t look for a job; you look for a significant problem to solve or an exciting opportunity to leverage. You look for a profession you love and that people will pay you to do. You are not a “job description with legs,” but a thinking, creative human being with unique and irreplaceable talents. You can make a contribution no one else can make.
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The same is true for your career, even in challenging times. Possibilities abound on all sides. The only shortage of opportunity is in your mind.

In fact, the opportunities could not be greater for those who adopt the right paradigm
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When responding to the question, relate the situation—the first part of your STAR—and ask, “Is this the kind of thing you were looking for?”

Here’s an example. The interviewer asks, “What is your key strength as a leader, and when did you capitalize on that strength?” A STAR response looks like this:

(SITUATION) “My key strength is making informed decisions. I once led a sales group equally divided on whether we should have geographical sales territories or key accounts. It was a very political issue with people deeply invested on both sides.”

(TASK) “My task was to research the question and decide.”

(ACTION) “I found that key accounts would be much more productive, allowing a sales team to focus on one client regardless of geography, and I was able to sell that solution on the basis of my research.”

(RESULT) “We increased sales by a third the first year.”
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Baran recalls that the process of creating the Internet was “like building a cathedral…new people come along and each lays down a block on top of the old foundations…. Next month another block is placed atop the previous one…the reality is that each contribution follows onto previous work. Everything is tied to everything else.”53

It’s a natural principle that you cannot achieve anything truly worthwhile alone—at least not in the world of work.
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What is synergy? Simply defined, it means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
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A highly synergistic team creates solutions that even the lone genius cannot foresee
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This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help people who really need you. Not at all—quite the reverse. A great career is all about helping people. In fact, a good response to the greeting “I know you’re busy, but…” is “I’m never too busy to talk to you.”

But that response can only be authentic if you see your career as serving people within the boundaries of your Contribution Statement. If you want a great career, you can’t respond to every request; otherwise, your career goes off on a million tangents. When you commit yourself to making a great, carefully defined contribution, you also commit yourself to saying no—courteously—to activities that won’t help you make your contribution.
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If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through service, good will, small courtesies, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your confidence in me rises, and you will come to my aid if I need you. I can even make mistakes in our relationship, and that high confidence level, that reserve in the “emotional bank,” will compensate for it
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Your goal is to grow your Circle of Influence. You do that by focusing your best energies on those things you can influence. Over time, you become more and more influential, the Circle of Influence gets bigger and bigger, and the Circle of Concern takes care of itself.
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On Death and Dying, a landmark book that transformed how the medical profession deals with patients at the end of life
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Through the marvels of engineering, when the trim tab swings to one side, it creates just enough vacuum to pull the big rudder around. The trim tab is tiny compared to the size and weight of the ship, yet the trim tab determines the ship’s course.

Now, how can your small contribution have any impact on the organization?

Because of the principle of the trim tab
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I want you to imagine you are at the helm of a huge ship moving forward at high speed. You’re the driver. You control the direction of this ship. Now, how is it possible for a single, small person to change the course of something so massive?

To change the ship’s course, you move a steering wheel that operates a rudder, which then turns the ship. But the rudder itself can be enormous, perhaps even ten stories tall on some ocean liners.

So what moves the rudder?

A tiny second rudder called a trim tab, which is attached to the big rudder
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Some years ago, a teacher named James Asher became frustrated with the way foreign languages were taught in schools. Most teachers used the “talking head” approach, which Asher described this way: “Students come into a classroom, sit down quietly in rows, and then make ‘noises’ with their mouths on cue from a person in front of the class who points at a student and says, ‘Listen to what I say and repeat after me!’” He felt foolish using this method, which to him was virtually useless.

James Asher became passionately devoted to a cause: to help people learn new languages quickly and easily. He began experimenting with new methods. One of these methods was to give students commands, which they would then act out, such as:

Stand up.

Walk to the cabinet. Open the drawer of the cabinet and look for a bottle of aspirin. Pick up the bottle.

Close the drawer and walk quickly to Mary.

Offer her the bottle.

Mary, take the bottle from him and…

Amazingly, English-speaking students learning Russian picked up these commands quickly and retained them. Soon they were learning hundreds of new expressions in record time. Asher’s discovery, now known as the “Total Physical Response Method,” made learning a second language fun, active, and easy.33
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Intelligence has become the new form of property. Focused intelligence, the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and know-how, is the new source of wealth
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Interestingly, nobody ever fires a volunteer. For one thing, a volunteer won’t go away. And for another thing, a volunteer’s passion and energy are really valuable to any employer. A volunteer doesn’t make decisions based on fear or the desire to be important. A volunteer makes decisions based on the right thing to do to get the best result.

One difference between a great career and a mediocre career is finding a cause you can volunteer to serve. We’re not talking about earth-shaking causes like solving world hunger or curing cancer. We’re talking about any worthwhile cause, regardless of your profession. Until you see your work as a cause, you won’t find the passion for it that marks a great career.
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In an earthquake, it’s hard to keep your footing. You don’t know if the water is rushing toward you or away from you.

Still, there is a positive side to this risky but exciting new time: you can secure a great future for yourself by becoming an indispensable solution to important problems
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