When you get to work each day (whether that involves commuting to an office or heading into your home office), you may have a list of things that need to get done. This could include tasks, assignments, deadlines, time frames; whatever you use to keep yourself organized and on-track during the day.
But what goes on in between these tasks that have been blocked out, besides the actual tasks themselves? What do you bring to the table when you show up for work? What is expected of you and, in return, what do you expect of yourself?
The bullet points on your list of to-dos are like particles floating in space. Too often, we think that they make up the majority of who we are at work. In reality, they are tiny, just floating around the much larger aspects of your unique personality and skill set in the workplace. I’ll be breaking down this concept in today’s article.
The Space and Particles Exercise
In order to better visualize this idea that we’ve introduced, it may be helpful to go through the exercise as explained here:
Take out a piece of paper (any kind of paper will work) and put 12 dots on it. They don’t have to be in any specific order.
Assign each of these dots a task you complete each day. These could be as simple as “log into my work email,” “meet with clients,” or even “drive home for the day.”
Around those dots, take a few minutes to write down some things that you bring to the table when you come into work each day. This could be something like “leadership.”
This doesn’t need to be fancy, colorful, well-designed, or pretty. It simply has to show thoughtfulness as you honestly analyze your workplace and your own, individual role in it.
Identifying Your Particles
Go back to the list of to-dos and consider why they are important to the success of your business and team (or even, your own life). Maybe they help the business reach certain goals monetarily. Or, perhaps they set you up so that you’re better able to make business connections moving forward. Whatever the reason, each of these tasks (big or small) serve a specific purpose.
But what would they be without the added value that you personally bring to the table?
Your Personal Space
Let’s consider a list of attributes that could appear in the space surrounding your to-dos (or “particles”). Maybe you’re understanding and open with your teammates in a way that others are not. You probably have a special way of staying motivated through the day and possibly help others do the same. You may be extremely diligent.
Setting these examples aside, there is no doubt that you have a set of skills that are completely unique to yourself, and the way you present your personality sets you apart from everyone else on the team.
This is your personal space. Consider what makes you your own authentic self while at work and how it contributes to the overall success of the company.
And before you have that negative automatic thought of “my personality doesn’t help make the company successful,” just know that what you do makes a positive difference at your job. It must, or else you probably wouldn’t be there. Consider why you’re drawn to this line of thinking and what you can do to help you feel more positive about the work you do each day.
Connecting the Dots
When you look at this sheet of paper with all of your dots and spaces, are you able to see how you are so much more valuable than the tasks you complete on a day-to-day basis? You are invaluable to how your workplace runs and works together. Only you can fill the space in-between those particles in a way that is meaningful for you and for those around you.
As you continue to grow and set goals, however, take some time to revisit your sheet of space and particles and add a few characteristics that you’re striving toward. For instance, maybe you want to be more empathetic in your office and be proactive about anticipating your co-workers needs. Add that to your space and make an action plan for achieving this.
By doing this simple exercise, you’re able to take inventory of how you’re currently contributing positively to your business, and how you can continue to do so in the future.
Work is more than a series of tasks that need to get done in order to do them over again the next day. And it can be hard to break out of this mindset if you feel like you’ve been in it for a significant amount of time. That’s why this exercise can be so helpful in reframing the way you think about your job and how you continuously add value for your teammates.
If you found this exercise helpful and think you and your team could benefit from more, reach out to me. I’ll guide you through discussions and provide a safe space for continuous growth. Interested in more information? Get in touch.