Back in the Seventies, my two brothers worked for the water company during the summer. They were both in college and eagerly came home to a decent job that would help toward their expenses in the fall. Their duties, however, weren’t optimal. Usually they came home from work, covered in red and yellow paint. You see, their primarily responsibility was to paint the city’s fire hydrants. They weren’t happy about it, but they did their jobs very well. The bright colors were essential in that they made the fire hydrants stand out. Though it was tough and dirty work, they took pride in their results. More importantly, I noticed that that pride in their work created something everlasting in them. It is what I have come to term as the Fire Hydrant Effect.
During that summer and subsequent seasons I noticed that when I road in the car with either of my brothers, they had a proclivity toward recognizing fire hydrants from other municipalities. This was the key to their success. Predictably, they compared the look and condition of those fire hydrants to the work they did during the summer. It gave them them the inspiration to do an even better job – to make sure that their work would stand up to inspection against the most meticulous fire department.
Years later, I coined this as the Fire Hydrant effect, because I noticed that even I, when I took on my summer job, did the same thing. Later in my career, when I got into sales, I used the same criteria to make sure that my work exceeded the expectations of those around me. I wanted to be sure that whatever I did, would stand up to scrutiny and help my company grow their business profitability.
How Do You Evaluate Your Work?
Do you do the same? How do you evaluate your work? How do you assess the quality of your accomplishments against those of your peers? Is what you’re doing daily contributing to the overall success of your business, company, or personal life?
While I often times assess my performance against predefined criteria, I also tend to add my own standards to that appraisal. That way, when I compare my work to others, I know immediately, how much more work I have to do to rise to the level of what I consider acceptable. I’m my biggest critic. Are you, yours?