Be the person in your office who 'makes it count'

02 November 2016

Eco light bulb amongst unlit standard bulbs

One of my favourite videos on YouTube is Casey Neistat’s ‘Make it count’ which was produced for Nike and has been seen by 22 million people.

It’s an effective, energetic celebration of getting out there and living life to the full. Make the most of the moment. Action expresses priorities. You get the sort of thing.

Beneath that video, you will find dozens, if not hundreds, of comments from people saying things like “it’s all very well, but I don’t have enough money / time / opportunity to ‘make it count’.

It’s easy to observe that those commentators have missed the point. Wherever you are, whatever your starting point, you can aim to maximise your time and potential, and lead a life of value that makes an impact on others. 

Or you can decide you can’t do those things because you’re waiting for exactly the right moment when the universe will align perfectly to make it easy for you. I hardly even need to add that such alignment almost never happens.

In every single company, whether encouraged or not, you will find people who make things happen anyway

The same applies when it comes to being a force for good when you’re at work. You can simply get on with your tasks, complaining about what drudgery it all is, and how you wished you worked for a company that cared more or you can take what you’re given and shine.

I think about this because every company I’ve ever worked with on putting together information for CSR-related communications or reporting has started with one process that never fails to amaze the people concerned.

They look across their company and find all sorts of people who, left to their own devices and with no official prompting whatsoever, just get on and do something that makes a difference. Not only do they tackle their regular work with energy and commitment, but they also look for how they can create the opportunity to do the right thing.

At a construction company I worked with, one guy had realised that operating large generators all night was wasteful of energy and proactively set up a dual generator system that was so effective, the company noticed and encouraged other sites to do the same.

In another, one location had set up their own charity of the year relationship, because a couple of people championed it and made it happen.

Even if it comes down to the level of someone simply choosing to buy Fairtrade coffee for the communal kitchen, and to take steps to fix a half-hearted system for separating waste so it can be recycled, it’s a sign that people care enough to make things work well.

The truth is that in every single company, whether they are encouraged or not, you will find a small percentage of people who make things happen anyway.

Few of us get the privilege to work in the company that is values-driven and perfect in practice. The choice is yours as to whether you see that as an immovable obstacle, or the perfect opportunity to test yourself in how you can improve that situation. 

And to do so in a way that builds support, rather than simply gets you labelled as some bossy tree-hugger who isn’t quite ‘one of us’.

Learning how to get people on board for a purpose, and to get them willingly to go places they didn’t previously realise they needed to go, that’s some of the best leadership training you can ever get.

And you don’t have to wait for someone to send you on a course. You don’t have to wait for Nike to sponsor you. You can just get on with it.

We get one life.

Making it count is a daily habit that shouldn’t be reserved only for the time you’re not at work.