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The Secret to Success at Work: Stop Working

Secret of success at work: stop working.

The secret of being successful at work: Stop working.

Most of the readers of Psychology Today provide service work in a knowledge based economy. That means you are probably performing some type of professional service, even if your title is manager, project leader, editor, or psychologist. You are processing, analyzing, and configuring information.

Let's focus on the concept of "service" in the world of professional services. There are four states of being for those of us who provide service to others: insanity, give-back, work, and fun.

If you are serving people you do not enjoy being with and are not getting paid, you are in the state of "insanity." We have all been insane.

If you are serving people you enjoy being with but are not getting paid, that is give-back.

If you are serving people you do not enjoy being with but you are getting paid, that is work.

If you are serving people you enjoy being with and are getting paid, that is fun.

Here is the key point in this article: Customers/clients you serve know when you are working. And over time, they will gravitate towards relationships with service workers who enjoy being with them.

Why work with someone who is "working" when you can be with someone who is having fun serving you?


Work with people you enjoy serving. Don't know the types of people you would enjoy serving? A good place to start is a career self-assessment test like the Strong Interest Inventory or the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey. Any alumni career center, licensed psychologist, or outplacement firm can administer one or both. These instruments provide a statistical comparison between your values and the values of those with whom you'll be spending time, in a variety of work settings. Think of these tests as identifiers of "simpatico" settings and people.

Below is a sample case:

Fred sells insurance. Like most insurance agents he believes the gateway to the wealthy clients he seeks to meet would be through accountants and attorneys. He spends most of his time networking with these people. But he does not enjoy being with them. It is "work."

I told him to "stop working."

We gave him a Strong Interest Inventory and it turned out his passions revolve around automobile mechanics. This is not surprising: his father was an automobile mechanic and his hobby is fixing cars.

At my suggestion, he joined the BMW Car Club of America and started attending local chapter meetings. It turns out one does not need to own a BMW to be a member of the Club. The rules are members need to be interested in BMWs.

Every Saturday, Fred is out with his pals at the local BMW Car Club. They enjoy peering under hoods and talking about the mechanical things they love to chat about. Fred has made friends and he is selling more insurance to his pals at BMW.

He now can afford to buy a BMW for himself.

Fred stopped working and started making more money.

What about you?

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