When I was in 4th grade, we were required to turn in 1 math assignment per day for homework and one for "in-class" work. My mom wanted me to finish the book and go to the next one, so over a break she made me do 30+ assignments. When school started back, I thought to myself: "why turn this all in at once when I can goof off for at least 2 weeks?"
Two weeks later, my mom caught on to my scam. The teacher, no doubt embarrassed about being outwitted by her student, told me "I would never get away with this malarkey in real life." I was rather disappointed that I couldn't get away with this behavior. I did the work. How could I be in trouble? It wasn't until years later that I began to understand.
When I turned 16, I decided to get a job at a restaurant. I remember a young bartender telling me the secret to the working world: "Pick something up and look busy. It doesn't matter what you are doing, just look busy." Eight years later, I realize what a golden nugget of advice this really is.
Anyone who works in tech-support can tell you about the "Microsoft fix." The person you are helping thinks you are a miracle worker, when in reality you didn't do that much. To that person, you are a hero, because you solved their problem. Its all about perception.
I'm often reminded of that teacher's lecture. How wrong she was. Life is all about perception. Its not what you can do, or how you do it. Its all about how people perceive you. In the end, it doesn't matter how you got the job done, it matters if you got it done.
Image Credit: Brian Forsse
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