We often think of work as visible. Showy. Demonstrable. That used to be the case. For most of history, until the latter half of the 1900s, most work was easy to see. It was blue-collar and physical. And it drove a lot of sales of Bengay.
But today, machines do much of the physical work. This means that much of the important work you do is not seen. Because it happens in your head.
Today nearly 40% of jobs are classified as managers, officials or professionals. Roughly the same percentage are service jobs. While I am no mathemetician, I think that means that 80% of jobs require you to think. Like Aretha Franklin said. Because today, most work is mental.
It is easy to tell when a manual laborer is not laboring. The person on the construction crew leaning on the shovel is both conspicuous and maddening. But when your work is not easily visible, you must bring your own mental discipline to stay on task. Focus is the key to mental productivity. Thinking work requires you to defend your focused time to get the thinking things done.
Focus is critical to strategizing and organizing in your head. Focus is needed to then translate those ideas to your coworkers, customers and partners for alignment and execution. Real focus. Not just focus pocus.
The work performed by your mental machinery is the most valuable type of work there is today. The better you are at this work the more valuable you are to your team, and the more value you create for others.
Get good at your own inner workings. Master the work that no one else can see. Create structure and space to think and strategize. Organize the world in your head so you can organize the organization in the real world. This means both finding the quiet to do the work, and the discipline to be diligent about the work you must do to make a difference.
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