You’ve just started learning a new skill and you think to yourself “It is really going to take me a long time to learn this.” You want to become an expert in as little time as possible, but you know you have a lot of hurdles to overcome before you can truly call yourself an “expert”. Yet, you persevere through the mental anguish that comes with comprehending what you’re learning. You practice what you learn, and overtime, it becomes second nature. You become satisfied with the way you do you work and put yourself on autopilot, and that’s when you lose your focus. At this point is when you find yourself in trouble.
Why might this be an issue? After all, most employers want you to be able to do your job as efficiently as possible. If completing your tasks requires little effort on your part because you’ve practiced them so much, you should be able to complete more work than if you were just learning how to do it for the first time, right? While that may hold true, you also lose your focus as these tasks start becoming automated by you. When you lose your focus, you start making mistakes.
I mentioned in a previous post that I was in the process of bringing a motorcycle back from the dead. While I’m happy to say that my motorcycle is now ridable, I still have a ways to go until it’s perfected. Just the other day, I had removed the carburetors, something I’ve done at least 20-25 times, previously. I was on autopilot while I was doing the work. After I reinstalled the carburetors, the bike did not want to start. I looked over on my workbench to see a part from the carburetor sitting there which I happened to forget to reinstall. Again, mistakes happen when you aren’t truly focusing on your work and instead just “going through the motions”.
The same goes for processes and policies we put in place in our work environments. While we have procedures for a reason, we always need to be flexible and look at new ways of doing things. For example, look at Kodak’s recent decision to stop producing digital cameras/pocket video cameras. This was a market that Kodak helped to invent. However, they became complacent and let the cell phone makers take over the digital photography realm for all of the non-professional photographers out there (myself, included). This was a company who brought the human race the first up-close images of the moon with all of its splendor.
Let’s also look at the emotional aspects. Think about a job you held in the past where you became complacent. How much satisfaction did you get from your job? When you came in for work, did you think about how much good you could do, or would you instead stare at the clock waiting for your shift to end?
The point is that we always need to breathe new life into ourselves and our work. It’s when we become complacent that we lose sight of what’s important, along with our competitors passing us by.
For final inspiration this week and to further my point, I leave you with a video of Bryson Andres, a young musician from Alaska. He has made quite a name for himself on YouTube where you can find various videos of him performing on downtown streets around the country. His instrument of choice is an electric violin. I know this might not sound appealing to most (especially if you are not into classical music), but I promise you, you’re in for a new experience. Not only is Bryson a talented musician, but he performs with an instrument in a way that I’m sure most of us have never seen before. At the very least, I’m sure you’ll be in a good mood after watching this: