An Ax To Grind (With): Your Work Goes Unnoticed, Until It Doesn’t
If you were assigned to chop down a tree, you’ll need to strike the trunk with your ax several times to get the end result. The tree only falls once. But every single blow counted to making that tree fall.
And you understand that, right? Simple logic. Common sense. So why do people have so much trouble swinging their ax in life (the work you need to do day-in and day-out, with little to no fanfare or recognition), knowing that this is how it goes?
When I played basketball in Montenegro, we practiced twice per day, Monday thru Friday. The games — one per week — were on Saturday nights. In a month, that’s 40 practices to 4 games. We knew that every 10 practices equaled one game. So it was (relatively) easy to find some form of focus on Wednesday’s evening training session while running another three-man weave drill. But I’ve had many, many more of those Monday-Friday weeks when I didn’t even know when my next game was. Damn a game — I didn’t even have a contract or a uniform. Those weeks are the weeks that made me who I am and who you know me as.
Persistence and discipline and a rep as a “hard worker” are not earned at the times when you know exactly how many steps it will take to get to the carrot. You earn those labels when you put in the work because you’re a person who puts in the work.
Ask yourself: What do you do when you don’t know when the next game is? When you don’t know how many blows will fell the tree? When you can’t see the reward, but the work is clearly laid out in front of you?
Do you keep swinging the ax that’s in your hand? Or do you quit? Or do you complain that your work is not producing results fast enough? Or do you wait for an “opportunity”?
You already have one. You’re holding it.