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“How Do I Expand My Work?”

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Sustained, Focused Pursuit Is Itself Hard Work

If you are an employee focused on the next eight hours, you might not think about “How do I expand?” It is certainly the opposite of “How can I make it through today’s work?”  We all ask that second question from time to time, but when we ask the first question, we are typically in a much better emotional place. I say the two questions are related and both revolve around how you define your work.

If you are responsible for bringing in new business, “How do I expand?” is your primary question. If you are an employee and entrepreneurial, you might think about how to grow your department or to expand the charter of your department. If you are a freelancer, or part of a firm or agency (small or large) and tasked with bringing in new business, this first question can consume you.

A friend talked about the “catcher’s mitt” approach, where his ad agency is in the loop to hear about a formal or informal RFP (Requests For Proposal) from a variety of organizations, and they respond. As a freelancer, it is much the same for me—responding to requests from loyal clients and fielding requests from new clients.

But catching requests as they go by is only one piece of the pursuit. And maybe a small piece, though clearly important. A larger piece has to do with organizing yourself  and your group for the work you want to do. Getting yourself and your team ready for the work you intend to do. Casting vision and organizing resources so they faithfully align with the work you are aiming at–a thing my friend is good at.

When I say organizing, I really mean trimming and pruning, because while the catcher’s mitt collects all sorts of work that is close and even very close to the anticipated, desired work, it may not be exactly on target. Organizing for the work you want means going through the difficult steps of asking what it is we are good at and what it is we want to pursue. And then moving toward that singular, or at least narrowed range of work in our outgoing conversations.

If this sounds like something that only happens in business, think again. I routinely talk with folks fresh out of college looking to set up their own business and wondering how to go about that. I often respond that they should look for opportunities to work with people and companies that interest them. And they should look for opportunities to use their communication, writing, design and thinking skills to serve (another tip from that inveterate letter writer) those people and firms they admire.

But this is not something just for new college grads. Defining our work and then trimming back and pruning it is a life-long pursuit. When we stop asking “How can I expand my work?” and start asking “How can I make it through today’s work?” we have given away a piece of our vitality.

And that looks like an end rather than a beginning.


Image Credit: unicornsandcuppiecakes via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

August 31, 2012 at 5:00 am

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