Are you a real contributor? That is the question.
Most great businesses have real contributors. Contributors who are constantly raising the bar and delivering with high standards – meaning, they are doing the necessary work, even when no one is watching. And then there are ones who just ride the wave and do very little. During a meeting at Tesla, Elon Musk once called out a silent employee by asking “what are you doing here?” in front of the entire room. The point he was trying to make was that if you’re not going to contribute to making the conversation more productive, maybe there is something else you should be contributing to. It’s all about high-intensity, proactive behaviour at great companies – contributing to greatness and getting things done!
Now, why do certain people not contribute? Is it that they don’t have the focus or discipline to sacrifice and engage in the invisible work (the work done when no one is watching)? Are they intellectually and physically lazy? Were they raised without high standards? Is leadership letting them down? Do they not care about the business? Or do they have no pride in making themselves happy, making their colleagues proud or making their customers successful? The bottom line is that (and it’s been said over and over again), “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
Being a great contributor, in my opinion, is aiming to be as perfect as possible and I think Coach Gary Gaines of Peter Berg’s, Friday Night Lights, said it best:
“Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasn’t one more thing you could’ve done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that gentleman – you’re perfect!”
So, if you’re not contributing – you’re just letting your team and company down. Where there is a lack of individual contribution, there is a negative effect on the company as a whole. It slows down momentum, which leads to less commitment, less integrity, and a business and team with no purpose, passion or soul. I challenge you to try and change the world like that because it would be pretty difficult.
At the end of the day, great teams and businesses are made up of great people who contribute. It’s not enough to check the boxes and meet expectations. You have to make a contribution that moves the needle for the business; something that is visibly and meaningfully essential to what drives value.
In what ways do you ensure you are contributing day in and day out?