Personal Business: Work harder on yourself than on your job – The Post

Personal Business: Work harder on yourself than on your job

You’re important, but post-it notes telling you so is going too far (photo: IStock)
March 19th, 2017 7:00 pm| by Philip Tees
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A few years ago I heard a quote by the late motivational speaker Jim Rohn: “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” The idea was that this ultimately benefitted both you and your employer.

At the time, I was on the wrong career path and the quote didn’t work for me. If I were to work on developing myself it would be with a view to being able to leave my job. And this is what eventually happened.

Positive uncertainty

But my thoughts returned to this last year. The company I had recently moved to went from having an almost impossibly bright future to bankruptcy within the space of about six months. As the problems emerged, my position (and everyone else’s at the company) began to look very uncertain.

This was worrying, but I realised that I was no longer concerned about my own performance. I was liberated from the thoughts that I might not be good enough and I began producing some of my best work ever.

Working on myself
I had no fear that I would underperform and get fired (we eventually all got ‘fired’ anyway). My attention turned to making myself more marketable to potential future employers. Everything I wrote became a possible portfolio piece, as well as serving its immediate purpose.

I was working harder on myself than on my job. But the thing is, this time I was in a field and a job that I wanted to be in, so working hard on myself aligned with improving my work performance.

Do it for you

When you improve, your employer automatically benefits. And it’s not just about technical (or even work-related) improvements. When you become a better-functioning person your employer wins, because it’s not just your workforce showing up at work, it’s you.

The days of working at the same place for your whole career are, for most people, well and truly over. And the eventual bankruptcy at my last company made me realise that job security is an illusion. You have a duty to your employer and your colleagues to do your best, but you also owe it to yourself to do it for you.

Philip Tees


Philip is a technical writer at a technology company and former business editor at the Copenhagen Post. He has a law degree, but prefers to play with words than Westlaw. Get in touch by following @currently_pt on Twitter or email holla@philiptees.com.