Skip navigation

This is the real truth about work and your career


DATE: 13 June, 2017

1. You are the CEO of your life

You manage your day, your time, where you work, and your career. You manage how you do your job, how you sell your services, the way you talk to others, and the way others think of you. The only person who’s seen every performance you’ve ever done is you. The only person who has seen every email you’ve written, and every meeting you’ve been to, is you. The real boss of you is YOU. You are in charge. Never forget it.

2. Being busy isn’t the same as being productive

People think being busy is a virtue and something to respect. “So, are you busy?” we ask one another as we bump into a colleague we know in the elevator or at a coffee shop. And the answer is always, “Yes, so busy. I’m crazy busy!” Have you ever heard someone reply, “Ah… no, not really. I’m just cruising along. It’s great.” That’s because if you’re not busy then something must be wrong. Busy people are always rushing. Their busy-ness gives them an elevated sense of importance. And if you ask them what they’re busy doing they’ll reply, “Oh, you know, emails, meetings, shit like that.” But it’s all an illusion. They’re rats on a wheel, going nowhere, busy winning the rat race, accomplishing nothing of great importance or purpose. Stop being busy and start being productive. Do stuff that matters. Do stuff that counts. Forget the rest, it’s all a waste of your time and energy.

3. Failure always happens before success

If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.

This is the new mantra that drives start-ups and entrepreneurial organisations. Failing means you’re sticking your neck out, putting your balls on the line, and having a go. And when you do fail you learn from it and move forward… fast. That’s how Elon Musk runs SpaceX. SpaceX has landed six rockets and exploded five. But they’re still in business, and the company is now developing larger, more powerful rockets for its attempts to fly to Mars. Yep, to Mars. So you can expect a few more failures along the way. And you can also expect them to land on Mars around 2035.

4. You are not your résumé

When you die, nobody is going to read out your résumé at your funeral. “His crowning achievement was when he made Sales Director. His Porsche 991 was a testimony to his success and greatness as a human being. And we especially remember him as a person who had an MBA.

Because even those who die with amazing résumés — whose lives are synonymous with business and work success, accomplishment and achievement — even their eulogies are about what they did when they weren’t achieving and succeeding, and who they were as human beings. How we cared for others, how courageous we were, how funny we were, how we live on in the minds and hearts of others. That is who you are.

5. Don’t work for money

Don’t work for money, it's never enough. Sure you have to pay your Telstra bills, I get that. But if that’s the reason why you turn up to work every day you’re wasting your life. Be inspired at work, not just content. Be happy at work, not just satisfied. Do what you do because it’s an expression of who you are, not because it’s a job. And if your dream has always been to be a florist or a hairdresser then stop working at that bank or that law firm, and become a florist or a hairdresser instead.