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Does the world really need another service provider, who is just a little less expensive, just a little faster or who offers just a little better customer service?

No: The marketplace is not excited or motivated by yet another pretty average provider.

What causes people to stand in line waiting to become your client or to tell the world how awesome you are, is when they encounter a business or person, doing something that is clearly, extra special. This is what I call doing work that matters.

Work that matters

So, what am I referring to when I say work that matters?

I first picked up on the term, in an interview I heard a couple of years ago. Seth Godin was being interviewed by Israel V, who asked him what his secret to success was. Seth answered:

For 5 years, I was one payment away from bankruptcy. I then decided to stop doing work that paid and focus on doing work that mattered. I fired our biggest client, who was responsible for more than half our revenue! They were making us unhappy and were changing who we were and how we did business.

It was a real watershed for me; having the guts to do that. I told my team that this might be the end for us, but I think it is the right thing to do. We stopped working on projects, which could make us money in a week and focused all our attention on doing work that mattered, things we would have worked on for free, if we could have afforded to.

That shift meant a lot!

Work that pays

Almost every business focuses on working in a predictable way. They stick within the confines of what their competitors do, because they believe that there is almost a guarantee that if they do, they will at least get a slice of the pie, even if it’s a small slice. This is why so many businesses offer such a similar range of services to their competitors and end up attracting average clients, who pay them average fees.

Steve Jobs and work that matters

Only a tiny minority of people do work that matters. They look at what the marketplace needs and they decide to provide it based on their unique approach. Steve Jobs is a famous example of doing work that matters. At a time when computer makers were constantly asking themselves, “how can we make this cheaper?” Jobs was asking “how can we make this so awesome that people will go crazy with excitement when they see it?” The rest is history.

Here’s the challenge with ripping up the predictable model of a business in your industry, to focus exclusively on doing work that matters to you.

You won’t find the model for you and your business in any book!

There’s no for dummies guide. There’s no turnkey solution. There’s no manual either! That’s because it has to be work that matters to YOU and your prospective clients.

It’s based around the way YOU see things:

Your values
Your beliefs
Your insights
Your experiences
Your passion
Your resources
Your imagination
Your goals
Your personality
Your dreams
Your faith
Your end game

Clearly, this approach is not for everyone. But for those who can see the potential and who have the vision and the courage to make it work, the rewards are life changing.

It’s why I enjoy coaching people how to do work that matters, based on their uniqueness, more than any other work I do. For my clients and myself, THIS is work that matters!

UPDATE: Here’s a follow-up post, which takes this subject further and answers a key question, on how to start this process in your business!
Audri Lanford's profile photoMikhail Baynes's profile photoDr Mani Sivasubramanian's profile photoJim Connolly's profile photo
You're welcome +Jim Connolly - it's important. In fact, here's what I shared with my circles:

This is an important post -- and something to think seriously about starting this weekend.

We're refocusing our entire business to do work that matters. We've spent all of 2011 refocusing, retooling, and simplifying our message. It's taken a frustratingly long time but as we get close to launch, it feels so inspiring to think about the people we will be able to help in a profound way.

Thanks for sharing this +Mani Sivasubramanian!
Thanks for the kind words, +Audri Lanford, and thank you for sharing the message with your friends.
+Jim Connolly - I've got this in my notes to include in an email to my list of around 3000 because it's valuable info to ponder as we enter a new year. Thank you for sharing those insights. +Audri Lanford - Knew you'd love it :-)
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