A Seat at the Table

Photo of a sign that reads "Golfers only beyond this point"
Photo copyright ©2019 David J Crone. All rights reserved.

“Whatever you do, do it well.”

Walt Disney

The full quote is, “Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”

Walt Disney’s motivation for this quote was about business. Deliver a quality product and people will come back again and again.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying something along a similar vein.


“If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mouse trap than his neighbors, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quote has been simplified over the years to become the adage, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”

Both of these quotes speak to the value of doing good work. If we do good work, we will be rewarded – monetarily.

That’s fine. But is that the only thing that motivates you?

I have a different perspective.

To me, the highest reward we receive for being good at our craft is getting to hang around others who are good at theirs.

We earn a seat at the table.

It’s a whole lot more fun to hang around with people who are good at doing what they do.

Do you remember playing games on the elementary school playground? Do you recall how teams were determined?

Two team captains were appointed; usually by general consensus. Then those two captains would take turns selecting individuals to be on their teams.

When were you selected? First? Somewhere in the middle? Last?

It was never fun to be selected last. Believe me, I know.

Do you play a sport? If you are an avid golfer, do you enjoy playing with a horrible duffer?

Maybe tennis is your thing. Maybe you’re pretty good at it. Is it any fun at all to play with someone who isn’t?

While sports are an easy metaphor to help us understand the concept, this same thing plays out at work.

When we are truly excellent at our craft, we want to hang around with others who are excellent at theirs. Our crafts do not need to be the same. But our levels within our area do.

It is frustrating to be held back by people around us who are fumbling about.

Yes, we can expect to be better compensated when we “do it well”. But, even more important, it is more fun – because we earn the right to be with others who also do it well.

Be excellent at whatever it is that you do.

Earn your seat at the table.

Travel Day

Photo looking out the window of an airplane
Photo copyright ©2018 David J Crone. All rights reserved.

How do you spend your time when traveling for business?

Do you frantically check, recheck, and respond to email? Are you constantly on the phone, coordinating the latest project, or averting the latest crisis?

I’ve seen all kinds of crazy behaviors at airports. People who are clearly caught up in their own self-importance, who can’t let go.

I’ve been all kinds of crazy at airports and continuing onto the flight.

Long before the days of iPhones, I had a PDA. A PalmPilot, with its nifty stylus and hand writing recognition. I even had a portable keyboard for my PalmPilot.

This keyboard allowed me to write documents while on cross-country airplane trips without needing to use the heavy laptops of the day.

I remember when iPods came along. The ability to carry your entire music library in your pocket! What a joy!

Somewhere along the way, I realized that the quality of work that resulted from my vain attempts to be productive even during travel time was so low that it was essentially pointless.

I switched to carrying a thin Moleskine notebook and a pen for those flashes of brilliance that came along during travel. Those flashes happened often enough to justify the price of official Moleskine notebooks, yet infrequently enough that a single notebook would last a couple months.

The big ah-ha that came along with this shift was that I am much happier. I arrive at my destination with far less stress. While I can’t say that I enjoy travel by air, letting go of this compulsion to “make the most of the time” has allowed me to at least tolerate the travel.

Ironically, letting go of a need to “work” while traveling has actually turned out to be a more effective use of the time.

Using the travel time to do nothing, while not quite recharging the batteries, has had the effect of allowing the batteries to not drain during that time.

Try it sometime. Maybe even on your next trip.

Give yourself a travel day (and one to get back). Do nothing other than transporting yourself from point A to point B.

See if you don’t arrive in better spirits, able to accomplish more overall than when you were frantically “working” the whole time.

Report back.

Share your results.

In the meantime, I have a book to read.