Get On With It

Writing and drawings about work, family and the stuff in-between

Build a reputation around the type of work you want to do

Illustration of a rainbow reaching across the sky and connecting two desks together.

When you aren’t doing the work you want to be doing, things are going to go one of two ways:

  1. You AREN’T going to do a very good job because you don’t care and eventually you’ll be asked (or told) to move on
  2. You ARE going to do a good job because you feel obligated/required to which leads to more work and eventually you’ll have to ask to stop (or quit)

Either way, it’s untenable and there is a better choice.

One of the (mostly) best pieces of career advice I ever received in my Microsoft days was, no matter what job/role you are in now, “do the work you want to be doing”.

This advice was mostly great in that it inspired action and agency over one’s path. Want to transition from a developer to a program manager? Arrange to try sprint planning for one of your product areas to see how you like it.

But something about the way it was phrased could also could be tricky advice for anyone who takes it too much at face value; as license to ignore their assigned work. Many bridges have been burned needlessly in pursuit of new careers this way.

That’s why I like the advice (coming from my professional coach) of “building your reputation around the work you want to do” instead.

You build a reputation by learning new skills and ideas, exploring opportunities, making connections, and, eventually, doing the work you want to be doing.

No burning of bridges required.


🗒 This concept came out of a coaching conversation I had recently and it stuck with me. If you don’t have a coach, consider getting one!

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