Sometimes, it’s tempting to think that it’s okay to turn in a ho-hum performance. Especially when there’s “clearly” no payoff for doing your best work.
Indulging in such thinking is a trap that will sentence you to a life of mediocrity and failure.
Let me use a real-life example that happened to me recently to illustrate the value of always doing your best.
One of my primary means of promoting myself locally is through public speaking. I go out to civic organizations and other groups to give free presentations on topics related to copywriting, marketing and advertising. I never charge for such speeches and I never try to sell anything. I go there on a purely educational basis.
That alone limits my upside, right?
It gets worse. Recently I was asked to give a presentation to a Kiwanis Club in a town about thirty miles away. Of all things, they asked me to talk about QR Tags.
When I arrived, I found that the club only had seven members and all but one of them was well over retirement age!
If ever there was a case where there was clearly no payoff for me turning in my best performace, surely this was it. I could just coast through this little speech, take the free lunch they offered me and be on my way.
Instead, I told myself that a professional turns in his best perfomance every time no matter what. I would use this as an opportunity to further hone my speaking skills.
I spoke to that group as though there were seventy people in the audience instead of seven. Without treading on anyone’s vanity, I spoke loudly and enunciated clearly for those whose hearing had already succumbed to the ravages of time. I was gracious and professional. I patiently answered every single question, even when they began to go a bit off-topic.
Unbeknownst to me, one of those seven people in the audience was the Regional Lieutenant Governor of Kiwanis International. He had tremendous influence over twenty-two other nearby Kiwanis clubs in the region.
I was still blissfully unaware of this fact when I asked for a testimonial and a referral.
What I got was a glowing email sent out to the heads of all twenty-two of the other clubs in the region.
Several of them contacted me on the strength of that testimonial. I ended up doing several more free speeches. All of them to much larger and younger audiences. Audiences filled with small business owners who were still in the trenches.
Ultimately, several of those who heard my later speeches hired me to help them with marketing their businesses.
That one speech to seven elderly audience members, in which there was “clearly” nothing in it for me, has led to many thousands of dollars in ongoing business leads. All thanks to my being a professional and putting forth my best effort.
No matter what.