Some of the biggest breakthroughs have come from people doing things that they didn’t have to do.
Though it’s largely gone now, Google didn’t have to implement their famous 20% time program, where their employees could spend 20% of their hours working on side projects that might help the company. And their engineers didn’t have to work on these side projects if they didn’t want to. But Google and its employees did things they didn’t have to do, which led to amazing products such as Gmail, Google News, AdSense, and more.
Famed investor Marc Andreessen asks himself, “What do the nerds do on nights and weekends?” when searching for new investment opportunities. The side projects of these nerds may eventually lead to something that changes the world.
Gary Vaynerchuk doesn’t have to create that 500th Instagram post or that 1000th video. But he wants to buy the New York Jets, so he continues to crank out content.
Everyone needs to work to make money, put food on the table, and live life. But when you do things you don’t have to do, whether it’s within your company or on the side, that’s when special things can happen.
Maybe you have some ideas of how to improve how your company hires, but you work in Manufacturing and have little to no contact with HR. So what? Ask your boss and a HR rep to see if you can take on a side project that helps your company improve its hiring processes. That could lead to your company getting better at recruiting and retaining the best employees, and becoming an industry leader.
Or maybe you’re in Accounting and do a lot of repetitive things at your job. You can learn some programming on the side to automate some of your tedious tasks and become more efficient. This can lead to promotions and even a career change.
Start a blog or podcast about something you’re interested in. That could eventually turn into a money maker down the road.
If you have an interest, just explore it. Start learning. Do things that you don’t have to do, do them consistently, and don’t be afraid to learn and fail. Amazing things can happen.