What Is Your Work?

How narrow is your definition of work?  As an entrepreneur, you’ll want to check out the answer to that question.  We all wear many hats, and yet there is a way in which we think hatsthat only a few are actual work.  Make a list of ALL the things you do in your business.  Note which ones you currently consider the “work”.  How many are left over?

Long ago, in the 80’s, when I was a Controller/CFO I was faced with this question.  I initially felt that my job was to process paper.  To get things done, complete, finis.  To move the paper from the inbox to the out box.  To be productive.

And then I learned what my job really was.

Certainly, there was a time when processing paper was my job.  When I was the Accountant, my job was to crunch the numbers.  When I became a CFO I had a staff to manage, other departments to interface with, and many more broader roles than moving paper from one side of the desk to the other.  I had to discover (albeit the hard way) that my work was more about people and relationships than about crunching numbers.  It was more about making sure that all the tasks assigned to my department, not just the ones that were mine alone,  got done.

How do you define the work you do?  Think about it.  Recently, a client noticed that she had an idea about what was her work, and what wasn’t, that was really causing stress. She has several employees that need direction and support.  She has to both acquire and maintain her customers.  She has to do billing, and watch the money.  Oh, and she has to do the “work”.   Can you see the problem here?  She thinks that the “work” is the product she makes, and all the rest are just fiddly bits.  She feels like at the end of that day, if she hasn’t finished anything product-wise, that she hasn’t actually done any “work”.

Based on that idea, she’s always feeling behind, like she’s not doing what she “should” be doing.  The pile of unfinished “work” looms as she does all these extraneous tasks.  Or all the other tasks get put on the back burner as she does the “work”.

Here’s the rub…they are ALL the work.  It’s part of being an entrepreneur. You either wear all the hats, or you wear some and are responsible for all the hats being worn by someone else.  Even if you have someone else doing some task, it is ultimately your “work” to guide, watch and foster.  As your business grows, your “work” shifts from actually producing the product to making sure the product gets produced by others; from doing it to overseeing it being done.

This shift in your thinking, this understanding of what your work really is, will help you see the big picture.  It will help you see ways out of any overwhelm you might feel.  It will bring clarity…and that is always a good thing.

One thought on “What Is Your Work?

  1. Kate

    Shell! This really hits home about defining what “my” work really is, at any given time. I have been re-reading The E Myth (The E is for Entrepreneur) and am struck by how how your insights deepen what I am reading there. Thank you for your wisdom!

Comments are closed.