I studied journalism as an undergraduate. Journalism is a great major. It teaches you to write. It keeps you up on current events. And most of all, it provides you with the discipline of making deadlines. Bob Farson was my advisor at Penn State. He never accepted a late assignment. He never gave an incomplete in a course. Every journalism student in my day heard his mantra over and over again…
“There is no late in journalism. You can’t put out a blank paper. A good reporter will never have everything he wants for a story. You’ve got to learn to go with what you’ve got and do the best job you can with it.”
Bob Farson’s advice – “go with what you’ve got” – really stuck with me. I finished my four years at Penn State, got an MA at The University of Colorado and a PhD at Harvard, and never missed a deadline. I never asked for an extension, and I never took an incomplete in a course.
I never worked as a journalist, but my journalism education taught me the importance of getting the job done with what I have – and that, in turn, helped me create the life and career success I so badly wanted.
When it comes to deadlines, I find that people make two types of mistakes: 1) They miss them because they are always looking for that one additional piece of information that will bring everything together perfectly; 2) They get so focused on making them that they don’t dig deep enough to find all the information they need to do an outstanding job.
Both are problems. When I say go with what you’ve got, I mean you need to find the right balance of gathering all the information you need and still making the deadline. Avoid problem number 1 by realizing that you’ll never know everything you want to know about a given subject. I’ve been a career success coach for 20 years, and I still learn new stuff about my field of expertise every day. Avoid problem number 2 by not getting overly focused on the deadline. If you do, you run the risk of not doing as good a job as you can on any given project.
Go with what you’ve got only after you do an exhaustive information search and make sure that you have all the information you can possibly find and still make the deadline.
In a post earlier this week, I mentioned a great little book: QBQ: The Question Behind the Question by my friend John Miller. If you find yourself needing information or materials to get a job done right, don’t ask, “Why won’t people give me what I need to do my job?” Instead ask yourself, “How can I get what I need to get this job done right and on time?” The answer to that question will put you in charge. You’ll be better able to go with what you’ve got to get the job done well.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people meet deadlines. They follow the career advice in Tweet 99 in Success Tweets. “Get the job done with what you have. Don’t worry about what you don’t have, or would like to have.” Take personal responsibility for doing the work with what you have – or getting what you need to do the work well. If you don’t have what you need, do whatever it takes to get it. Take personal responsibility for making sure you have what you need to do your job well. Taking personal responsibility for getting the job done – with what you have, not what you want – will set you apart from the pack and put you on the road to the life and career success you want and deserve.