Who do you work for?

May 6, 2010·

We all work.

Although “work” isn’t so easily defined for all of us. For some of us, “work” is what pays the bills. Going to the gym is “working” out. To others, volunteering is “work.” It’s all work – in some way or another.

Sure, we all “work” for someone. Unless you are one of the lucky people who have no one to answer to but yourself, either because you’re a loner or because you’re a billionaire, you “work” for someone.

But my question to you goes deeper than a boss / authority figure: WHO do YOU work for?

You don’t make money for your boss, you make money for yourself or a family you’re supporting. But in the end, are you happy with the “work” you’re doing? Are you really working for the money, are you working for the boss, are you working for your family, or are you working for yourself? Is the paycheck the most important thing?

The reason I pose this question is because it is a question that I, myself, have posed a lot recently… to, well, myself. I don’t make a lot of money and I work a lot. But what is my end goal? Do I have a plan? Do I have a vision? The things that I do outside of my 9-5 job, are all those activities (other involvement) considered, work? Do I see the hard “work” I put into those things as valuable? Of course. Because I don’t get paid to run. I don’t get paid to do improv. I do those things for myself.

Even if you spend 80 hours a week at the office, or you work 100 hours a week at 3 jobs, or you are lucky and you have a very strict 9-5, 40 hour a week gig, it’s important to take a step back from the daily grind and remember who you work for FIRST.

Who’s your number one boss? You. YOU are you’re number one boss. You know when you’re procrastinating, working diligently, improving, accomplishing, goal setting, yada yada yada. You know YOU better than anyone… which that should go without saying.

I know I need a reminder every once in a while. So, I thought, maybe if I wrote it down and reminded myself, in turn, I’d help to remind other people. You work for yourself first, because if you’re your own number one employee, it will show in everything else you do.

I work really hard. Always have.

That medal was my running paycheck. I earned it.

But particularly, I’ve worked really hard for six months on a “side-project”, and this past Sunday was my mid-year evaluation. I ran my first ever half-marathon. 13.1 miles. The Long Branch, New Jersey half-marathon. And the only one boss that could judge my performance? Me.

It was, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever done. Not only was it 13.1 miles, but it was 93 degrees, no shade, no breeze (for at least 10.5 of the 13.1 miles), high pollen count, etc. etc… By mile 2 I wanted to quit – and I knew I had a long way to go.

My goal was a finishing time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. I ended up finishing in 2 hours and 56 minutes. Was I disappointed?Sure. But was I proud of myself? Absolutely. For the last six months I have trained and prepared 100% on my own. No one else made me get up in the morning and run 5 miles, no one else told me I had to run after working at 15 hour day… I told myself. I did the work.

My friend Colette and my friend Greg were my mentors – talking me through the bad runs, the good runs, and the prep. But in the end, my legs did the running.

And yeah, I’ll admit it, mile 9 of 13.1, I cried. Straight up. No lies. I didn’t know if I could finish or not. As I watched people passing out beside me, and people throwing up from heat exhaustion, I had to have the conversation with myself, did I want to pass out or did I want to finish? I chose the later.

In running, in comedy, in life, I am my own boss. If I am proud of the work I do, the people I literally work for will feel the same way.

Who do YOU work for?