Take Advantage of the Small Wins

Small wins are what help me get through the day. They continue to energize me to push farther. As I learned small wins compound (The Compound Effect) into big ones. For me, on a personal level, that meant getting up early and running outside before my coworkers were awake. It gives me a sense of accomplishment with starting the day. In my head, I’m already winning the day. (If you identify with this type of mentality I recommend Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins he’s a monster.

I know that getting up early and running won’t get me promoted. But I know it develops discipline. NO one is forcing me to do this and I’m creating opportunities for myself to get better. I didn’t come up with this principle. If you look at some of the most successful people in the world they are frequently early risers. I apply the same tactic at work. Here’s an example of a small win I had recently. Hopefully, this sparks some inspiration for you to find a little gem in the rough.

Background

The company I am working for is going through a massive reorganization for the sales staff. The top brass got whacked (let go – aka given the opportunity to work elsewhere) about a year ago and it’s been dragging on ever since. Recently, management announced they are reducing the sales staff by 35%! Keep in mind we are growing company and not restructuring because we are in financial troubles. As heads continue to roll everyone is on pins and needles to learn the new structure for the organization. My cousin (big wig in corporate America) said that large reorgs like this are analogous to 7th-grade dances. People congregate in their little tribes. Rumors spread. No one knows how to act given the situation and you may see people do uncharacteristic things given the circumstances.

Anyway, the remaining sales staff feels overworked, irritated, and tired of being in limbo while we wait to hear the announced changes for the structure. Most of us are covering 2x the number of customers with no extra incentives and uncertain of the future.

The Project

During this time, management rolled out a rather labor intensive research project. We were assigned the project via email on a Monday afternoon with the sales leadership copied on the email chain (aka you better pay attention). The email instructed us to respond to the sender and another individual by noon Friday. We were not excited bout this task. 

Most of my peers seemed to half-ass the task or do the minimal work required. Now, I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly thrilled by this “opportunity” but I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself and flip this on its head. I treated this as a competition against my peers, a little game that I wanted to win.

I tidied up everything in a clean zip file and sent it to the two people specified in the original request. My coworkers hit the deadline as well but many were instructed to redo specific parts, find more information, or just clean it up. I hadn’t heard from my boss and assumed “no news is good news.” I was wrong, it went much better than expected. Picture below.

 

Name, 

Thank you very much for your hard work and exceptional deliverable in prep for our workshops and “…” next week. You went above and beyond. 

Your knowledge of the account was evidenced in the output you created. 

Awesome job and thank you very much!

Boss

 

The Win

My manager copied all of the sales leadership on this email. Talk about a pleasant surprise compared to what my peers were getting back (who doesn’t like hearing nice things about themselves) I was very appreciative of the email because my boss could have easily just written a thank you note without copying management or could have not responded at all. Let’s be honest, it’s not like I found a cure for cancer, I dolled up a spreadsheet.

But I decided to do some reflection on this moment. Why did my boss decided to shower me with praise like when you train a dog in obedience? I think most of my coworkers set the bar so low that any little extra effort really shined here. Management looks for ways to give people small wins especially if times have been stressful. 

The article is not mean to be a stroke of my ego, believe me, I have many stories of things that did not go well, read here. But rather an example of how you can take the most mundane tasks and turn them as an opportunity for you in your career. Where will you find your small win? How can you make your boss’s life easier?

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