Your Signature Work

Recently as I was window shopping at one of my favourite bookshops. I picked up Dianna Booher’s Your Signature Work. Immediately, a bell went off in my mind “Not another self-help book!” but after perusing through it, I decided to buy it.

A couple of chapters later, I was not particularly impressed with the basketball analogies. I am anti-sport! Basketball in particular was least of my favourite sports during my Physical Education (PE) classes in high school. Our teacher, Madam (as we called her) made sure that we followed her syllabus to the letter and even gave us quizzes after teaching us a new sport. Needless to say, I used to say I got A for attendance.

Once I overcame my basketball prejudice, I was able to pick up really important tips on to be a model employee. Authority, commitment, ownership, recognition for accomplishment and creation of a platform are all reasons why someone’s signature (autograph) would be valuable in today’s society. Mrs. Booher uses these five signals to show how one’s work can be valuable and excellent. Here are a couple of tit-bits that I picked up:

Play your position: An employee is required to be accountable for what happens and accept responsibility-with no one else to blame. Dianna says that being accountable means accepting responsibility for your own morale, motivation and mobility. In my short employment life, I have discovered that even though a group of graduate trainees in any given company are hired on the same day, they will not rise through the ranks at the same pace. What differentiates them is initiative and ability to carve a niche. This can only be done if he/she is willing to take extra assignments or at least find some way of being outstanding.

Play with the rest of the team: One cliché that appears in 99% of all job application letters is “I am a team player…” However, exercising this trait, once an employee is hired seems to be a daunting task. Dianna advises that one can build his/her reputation as a team player by learning to see things from multiple viewpoints and interpret the benefits of the parties involved; keep people informed of your plans every step of the way and share the credit for your success. It seems once one involve other people in his/her plan, they own it and are willing to work hard on it. As Stephen Covey would say, “It creates a win-win situation”.

Develop a playbook: She uses this fancy phrase to simply mean, plan and act on your plan. Henry Ford once said,” You can’t build your reputation on what you are going to do”. So one simply has to get specific about the mission and then work backward:
• Pray for direction
• Set your goal
• Identify major and interim deadlines
• Identify the resources needed
• Agree on criteria of completion and measures of success or failure
• Pinpoint pitfalls and develop precautionary measures
• Schedule the work
• Work the plan

Keep your eye on the ball: It is a well known stereotype that women are better multi-tasking than men. However, this can be detrimental to one’s work and other aspects of life. Dianna says multitasking is highly overrated and can be deceptive. Lack of focus tends to deplete one’s energy. Shifting of one’s attention from one issue to another makes one to lose some energy and concentration. In the end, if one is not careful, mediocrity is normally the end result. One may also focus on the fun, interesting or visible projects rather than the most important. Focus and finish so the score goes on the board.

Well, I am not through with the book yet but I will definitely keep you posted on some of her words of wisdom….

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About Lillian

I am a proud student of the human experience which provides me with the perfect excuse for being a bibliophile (read: book hoarder) and the unofficial patron of Nairobi Inama bookshops. But in my past life, I was a recorder player. You can also find me on Medium (@lillianyamongo) where I discuss sustainable finance.
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