Voiceovers by Gregory Houser
A man, a martini, and a lot of microphones.: Would you rather be busy or add value?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Would you rather be busy or add value?

Since it's 3:30AM out here, I'm going to make this one short (I hope).

Let me ask you a question. Regardless of your chosen vocation, how do you measure success? For most of us, and especially those of us who work (full-time or otherwise) in a creative profession then answer is to have a lot of bookings, which we hope will result in more than a bit of influx of income. For others, it's the idea of working more, being busy and getting a step ahead of where we currently are in our chosen profession.

There's nothing wrong with that, but are you actually suceeding? If you look up the definition of the word, you might be surprised to find that "being busy" is not part of the definition for being successful. Yet, how often do we equate the two?

If you talk with an accountant, their traditional definition for success is "to add value". This is something which was drilled into my head at grad school. Words like talent, busy, etc. had very little to do with it (though obviously, situational requirements bring these characteristics into play). When it came time to put pen to paper, the determination of success on the balance sheet was how much value you and your efforts added to the balance sheet.

Since we're not merely figures and accounts on a page, the question to ask is this: is what I'm doing adding value to the things I want to do? It's a qualitative question, and for each person the answer will be a little different. But it's worth asking:

  • Did taking that low paying VO booking add value to what I want to do?
  • Did spending $3,000 for that U87 add value to what I want to do?
  • Did that conference add value to what I want to do?
Noticing a theme? I'm not talking about justifying your efforts, but honestly asking if they're getting your closer to your goals. For each person, those goals are going to be different, and many of them will change over time. However, if we take a look at what we want to do and comparing that goal to what we're doing to achieve it, I think you'll find that there are a few things which we do in order to "stay busy" that simply aren't adding any value to our personal bottom line.

It's worth thinking about... are you just keeping busy, or are you adding value?

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