Are we checking the box because this is a necessary thing?
Are we checking the box because this is a valuable thing?
Said another way:
Are we doing it because we have to?
Are we doing it because we want to?
We have a million things to do in a day. Maybe more. Most of them are expectations that we have to meet. Most of them require checking a box before we can move on. Of those million things, some of them actually contribute directly to something valuable. Some of those things actually have an important reason for completing. Some of them actually have meaning.
Let’s add another variation:
Some tasks are table stakes. If we never respond to that email or return that call, we’ve fallen below the threshold of crappiness. If, however, we meet the table stakes, we’ll find other tasks that either already has or can have purpose injected into them with a fireside story. Why fireside? Because it requires us to create the setting. Some things are only valuable because we see or make them valuable. Without creating the environment, they’re just another plain box.
We all get it, there are boxes that just have to be checked, but no one – no person we work for or with – is writing a ballad about those boxes (sorry, not sorry compliance memos). Still, some boxes also have the potential to make a difference. They’re the ones that include human connection. They’re the ones that include meaning, purpose, and a story. It doesn’t just have to be another email or another callback. It’s the things we can share that create value. Why not make the email or the callback something worth talking about?
No one wants to check boxes for the sake of checking boxes all day. We should spend extra time on the things we want to do and make sure others understand why they matter. Those boxes will fill with stories instead of check marks. If we want the word to spread, we have to create the environment and communicate the value. Not because it’s the necessary thing, because it’s the valuable thing.