Here are two principles that will make you successful in the work world:
- Get the job done.
- Be low-maintenance.
Anyone who hires or supervises someone else is acting pretty much on the basis of hope. They are hoping that working with someone else ends up producing value. It’s hope because when you ask someone else to do something, you are giving up your own control. And yet you desperately want to, because there are other things you should be doing. So the mark of a great employee is someone who gets the job done. Somehow. The mark of an average-ish, not very useful employee is someone who “touches” the assignment, and then gives it back to you. This doesn’t accomplish the basic purpose of delegation and specialization, which is to get things out of your hair. The employee, instead of becoming a useful resource, becomes someone who has to be managed. Another big chore.
Anyone who hires or supervises someone is also probably a little strung out. No matter how well they present themselves, they are probably at their limit for dealing with problems. They are all stocked up. Employees who are moody, whiny, petulant, “sensitive,” hostile, erratic, paranoid or who just have weird energy are a big thumb on the scale of the boss’s own mental-health balance.
This is a key point for high-achievers because lots of high-achievers place great importance on their own sense of specialness. If they don’t feel special, they feel sad, and therefore they want their families, teachers, co-workers and bosses to acknowledge their unique specialness. This of course is just a pain in the ass for everyone concerned. If you are special, be so in a low-maintenance way. Maybe that can be your own unique brand – special yet low-maintenance. You will probably be an amazing employee if you can pull that off.
Basically, those are the only two rules. I omit the well-known ones, like not sending racist emails and not stealing stamps (office supplies are okay; stamps are a no-no).