The Extra Work Makes You the Owner

James Walpole/ March 15, 2020

Most days after I finish my tasks at the stables, I’ll spend a little extra time working. I clean in the corrals, check on the horses, fill up water buckets, or pick up some trash – some extra contribution to the upkeep of the stables. I take more care of my charges than I’m asked or paid to do.

In other words, I act as if I have the responsibilities of the owner. And while this does not give me the privileges of the owner, it does give me the psychological state of ownership.

The rest of the day I feel as an employee: on someone else’s time, working on someone else’s property. But when I give my work freely – above and beyond – I am doing something only an owner might otherwise feel an incentive to do. And that changes how I feel about the work.

I feel as if those horses are mine, and I’m living the dream of caring for my own animals on my own farm. Rather than rushing about, looking to the judgment of my manager, I feel a profound calm and assuredness that I am giving value and that I belong.

I felt this same way back when I would work long nights at BitPay. At a certain point in my work, I crossed the threshold beyond what people expected of me. Beyond that, there were no people waiting to expect anything. There was just me – and anyone else tenacious enough to do extra work for free. We had a ball, and the company felt like it was more ours just as the office felt more like home.

You’ll never know how satisfying this can be until you willingly work more than you’re required or paid to do. Try it: you’ll find ownership in that little extra.

Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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