Four things you should focus on for 2015. (And 2016, and 2017, and . . . )

Here are four ideas for how you can make a bigger difference, and enjoy your life and your work more.

None of them are aerospace-specific.

(1) Your job is to create valuable conversations.

Conversations are how the world changes for the better.

Nobody achieves anything worthwhile on their own. We make our lives better, and the lives of those around us, by interacting.

Newton, Einstein, Hawking . . . . all the names we typically associate with independent genius . . . . had to publish their ideas in journals, and give speeches. They started conversations. Then, and only then, were they able to change people’s thinking, and create new value.

As you start value-able conversations, you will make a difference.

(2) Your job is to think. And disrupt.

About your job. Your workplace. Your company.

Why do I do what I do? Why do I do it the way I do it?

Too many engineers and knowledge workers have allowed the social forces in the workplace to squeeze them into the company mold. To have all traces of independent, creative, challenging thought crushed out of them.

They arrive at work, park the car, place their brain very carefully on the seat beside them, then get out of the car and trudge to the office.

Get rid of that way of (not) thinking.

Your job is to challenge everything that went before, everything you did yesterday, everything everyone else did yesterday, and ask, “Why? What if . . . . ? Why not . . . . ?”

If that proves to be to much to handle for your company or your colleagues, then maybe your job is to find a new job. And a new company.

(3) Your job is to figure out the essential value that you bring to the table, and do that really, really well.

Your job is to Paretoize your job

You know. Pareto’s Law. 20% of the inputs generate 80% of the outputs.

There are parts of your work, parts of the your daily grind, that actually matter. They’re key. Screw them up, and the rest of what you do has little significance.

Identify those, and focus on them. Give those your best energy, the best part of of your day.

The rest can wait.

Or maybe there’s a way you can put those minor things on autopilot. Is there someone else in the office that can handle them? (And maybe even likes handling them?) Can you create some software code that will automate it?

(4) Your job is to make everyone else feel like a million bucks.

Everybody comes to work carrying secret pain.

If you can relieve some of that pain, you will boost their (and the company’s) productivity. And you will make their lives (and your own life) just a little more worth living.

You can do this very easily.

It’s all in the little things.

A wisecrack that gets everyone laughing. A coffee for someone (in the way they like it) who’s too busy to go fetch one before the meeting. A thank you and a smile for work well done. A pat on the shoulder of someone who’s hacking up a lung with a bad cough.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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