Growing up on a farm and ranch, I always helped with the maintenance of the machinery. One of the most mundane, nastiest, dirtiest, menial jobs was what’s called “greasing” the joints.
I’d get a huge tube of thick slimy blue grease – literal grease – and shove it in a giant syringe looking gun. Even the most seasoned veteran would sometimes experience a spring loaded explosion of grease at this moment… and you hadn’t even begun.
I’d then climb all over, and mostly under, the huge tractor, or whatever the current machinery, finding these itsy-bitsy tiny spouts. After cleaning the spout off (with my shirt), because dirt was the ultimate enemy in these bearings, I’d hook a hose to the spout and pump grease into it until it oozed out somewhere else.
I’d then wipe the grease off of everything and proceed to the next. My favorite tractor had about 12 of these spouts. My least favorite tractor, a monstrous 8 wheeled Case beast with a pivoting section in the middle, had 20-some of these!
Some spouts I had to practically stand on my head, grow a tail, and do three magic tricks to make the job happen.
It was hard to remember where they all were and some were really difficult to get to, but it was absolutely vital I did.
All day in triple digit heat through miles of dirt without these tiny spouts getting their daily grease, and a multiple hundred-thousand dollar, profit earning machine would be completely shut down because of ONE tiny, poorly maintained piece.
By the time I’d be done with this dreadful routine, it’d be anywhere between 30 min to a few hours depending on the machine, and I’d be sweating profusely, covered in a sticky blue grease I’d wear all day, and have dirt everywhere.
But there was no getting around what had to be done.
Now’a days, most of the tractors out there have better seals and systems for greasing the wheels, but I’m sure it’s something else now to “keep the wheels turning” – such as calling tech support for the GPS systems!
Because this is true of everything in life:
It’s always the little things that make up 80% or more of the work, but this work keeps “the wheels” turning!
Recently I was having a conversation with Sarah Lodato, a campus director in Atlanta for The Iron Yard, and she mentioned how her job, though often seen as a job of “networking and socializing” is full of these little, menial, tasks and accomplishing them can make or break success in her role.
It was a good reminder how every job has these sometimes frustrating but always necessary tasks.
You know the kind. Not the fun, social networking, story-time stuff, but the little things are the equivalent to changing the oil or greasing the joints.
It may be data entry, billing and collections, keeping a list of supplies needing purchased, relaying little messages and connecting the right people, paying the bills and researching the needed insurance, writing a little something nobody will read, tweaking this, remembering to do that, and checking hundreds of emails…
…good-freakin-grief, the emails!
I have project management apps and Any.do absolutely full of these tiny no-fun tasks.
However, I realized something while talking to Sarah about this topic:
I’m conditioned to never talk about those things!
As I thought about it, I realized that most people don’t ever talk about these things.
I’m so accustomed to always telling the envious, glamorous, and glorified parts of my business I run. The fun stuff. The rewards! The social, interesting, and profiting parts!
But, for me, that’s usually ten percent of the work!
Read blog posts and about pages. Listen to people describe their work. Even hiring and career pages put typically only the best sounding, “fun” stuff out there – ping pong tables, coffee and beer, oh my!
We lie to ourselves though, if we think “his job”, “her job” or the “next” job is somehow less full of the 80% menial work.
We also lie to others when we make it sound like our current role isn’t.
Married people can vouch: It’s always the little things that make the difference in every aspect of life.
These are what make the bigger “successes” and “differences” we all want.
The rewards we chase, for whatever reason, in whatever regards.
Remember this, and all relationships, work, and overall joy will increase.