Sometime last year I ran across Dale Dauten’s website when I found out he was coming to the Alabama SHRM conference to speak. My post on killing the status quo focuses on that session, but he also has created a list of rules for work that I think most people need to learn. It’s titled “The Contribution Ethic.” I’m going to add my own comments behind each main idea to clarify what each means to me. After I share the ten points, I am going to challenge you to pick one to focus on today, so try to figure out which one you need to work on the most.

  1. Just help-Make yourself useful. Don’t make someone ask for your help; just do it. It’s one of the single largest ways to differentiate yourself from everyone else at work.
  2. A great player is worth less than a great teammate-A great player may not improve the group’s performance, but a great teammate always does. Be careful when hiring “all stars” who don’t play well with others. If you have to spend twice as much time managing that “star’s” attitude, then it wasn’t really that good of a hire, right?
  3. Your half is 60 percent-Focusing on “doing your half” and then stopping is no way to go through your working life. Do more than what people expect. Or do the hard part. Or whatever it takes to make it easier on your teammate when you hand the project back to them in an unfinished state.
  4. Innovation is a subversive activity-Organizations are built for continuity, not creativity. Don’t let someone tell you the idea isn’t worth trying if you truly believe it has merit. Someone else somewhere believes in that idea, too. Find them and co-opt their influence to help you.
  5. Giving time without attention is an empty gift-wrapped box-Managers, I’m looking at you. Don’t make your people wonder, “Am I good enough?”
  6. Assume the best-Dale says this best: If you assume that every tenth person in the world is a jerk and that you’re a jerk a tenth of the time, then you can meet the world with a smile… You will run into people that are pretty much terrible human beings. How you react in those situations is what matters most.
  7. Being right is overrated-Keep trying. Worry less about who is right and when and more about how you are going to reach the end goal.
  8. Being wrong is underrated-I always like to say, “Everything I know how to do well I screwed up the first time.” Being wrong is just one more opportunity to learn something new.
  9. Always bring something to read-I am a huge fan of reading, and I think it’s one way to separate good employees from great ones. If you don’t have a corporate library, maybe you need one. This great quote I heard yesterday says it all: I not only wrack my brain when I come to a difficult issue, I wrack the brains of others through reading and discussion. One of my favorite authors also talks about books being our way of learning from our past mistakes so we don’t repeat them. If you aren’t reading, you are missing out. I feel like this point is combating the complaint from many that they “don’t have time.” If you have a book with you at all times, you’ll find little snippets of time throughout the day to read without impacting anything else you have going on. Ten extra minutes per day is an hour a week of reading that you wouldn’t otherwise be doing!
  10. Think like a hero; work like an artist-Heroes attack the dragons, save the maidens, and win the day. Artists put relentless passion into their work and refuse to let anyone tell them it’s not worthwhile. Combine the two and you’ll be an unstoppable force.

If you’d like to download the original PDF of The Contribution Ethic, here’s the link.

Is there an item in this list that you can focus on today in order to better yourself? Which one? 

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