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I’ll bet that you are really good at what you do. You are conscientious, creative, and hard-working. You would never short-change anyone or give them less than 110 per cent. Right? Right!
But do they know that? Do they know that you gave them something extra; that you did exactly what they wanted?
Feeling unappreciated is very stressful and often results in the inevitable question, “Why am I doing all of this?”
“Okay, Dave, what got you started on this one?” you’re probably asking.
We have some friends who hired a pet-sitter to take care of their two dogs and two cats while they were on vacation. When they returned, they found no evidence that their animals had been cared for as instructed. Medications looked as if they hadn’t been touched. The supply of treats looked virtually the same as it had when they left. True, the animals were healthy and that’s the most important thing; to paraphrase Roseanne, “The animals were alive [when my friends got home], so the pet sitters did their job!”
Naturally, one of the first things they did when they returned was to call the pet-sitters and find out what happened. The evidence suggested that they did a "poor" job. Or was it just a case that there was no evidence that they did a "good" job?
Did they give the medications or didn’t they? It looked like they didn’t when, in fact, they did, and went the extra mile by picking up more. Did they give the treats as requested or didn’t they? It looked like they didn’t when, in fact, they did and provided an extra service by going to the store to buy more.
The word is perception. You may be doing a great job and a lot of extras, but leaving them with a different perception of what you’ve done.
I learned this lesson the hard way. As a programmer/consultant at a large medical facility I was given an important program to write. It was a critical component of a critical system that was supposed to be operational by a certain date. I worked on it mostly from home. My client didn’t see me very often, and his perception was that I was goofing off, procrastinating until the last moment.