...it's how you do it.
There are a probably a million+ mantras that can help guide you over the course of your life or career, but they don't mean much if you don't live those truths.
When I was first starting my career, I worked with my father who had quite a few mantras. My favorite: Do good work and have fun doing it. It's pretty simple, and it's helped guide me at many points in my career and in my life.
I'm hard pressed to find examples in my work or my life where I'm not collaborating or interacting with other people. And while I'm always focused on an optimal outcome in these situations, I've got to consider how I go about arriving at those outcomes. I don't want to compromise the quality of the outcome, and I don't want to compromise what I did to get there. How do I go about that?
It takes practice, patience, and realizing that journey is often times more important than the destination. There are certainly stressful situations that come up in our work and in our lives, and how you react to those situations is key. In the face of difficult situations it's challenging to be our true zen selves, but that is the ultimate goal.
The funny thing is that it's not only about keeping your cool when things get difficult.
One of the first freelance jobs I took when I arrived in San Francisco was at a very small ad agency. The job was editing hundreds of videos for a campaign, and I really wanted to impress my client and keep getting work from them. My thought was that I'd achieve this by going in, putting my head down, and working very hard to accomplish the task at hand. At the end of the project my client would be so impressed with my work ethic and the quality of my work that they'd hire me back. It seemed like a foolproof plan: do good work.
But what about how I worked? I completely forgot to share my personality or let them get to know me. I naively thought I'd only be judged on the end product. It was good work, and I took a lot of pride in the work. But I failed to realize that there were lots of people who were qualified to do that work, and that an even more important factor in keeping that client would be how I worked with them. Thankfully, I loosened up and started to become more sociable and they got to know me much better. They trusted that I could do good work AND now they were realizing that I was someone that they wanted to work alongside. I credit that realization and mantra to a very healthy working relationship that lasted many, many years after.
As you grow in your career or in life, it is important to do great work and improve over time, but do not forget about how you are going about your work. People are going to remember you for the work that you do, and they will remember you for how you did it....so do good work and have fun doing it.
What's a philosophy or mantra that helps guide you?