Do the Work

A Blog Post by Brian Miller


As 2019 came to an end, three statements began to form in my head. I wrote them down on the white board in my office. I adjusted the wording to get more to the heart of each truth. All three speak to my behavior and my mindset. I feel like if I follow these three guidelines, success will come.

Here are the statements that will guide me in 2020.

1. Do the work.
2. Be present.
3. Don’t be the hero.

Do-Be-Don’t. These three statements need to be true about me every day if I want to reach my goals in 2020. Maybe they need to be true for you as well. See if they resonate.

Over the next month or so, I’ll write a blog post on each one. The first post is below.

Do the Work

Stephen King was fond of saying he wrote every day except Christmas. Then one day he felt compelled to admit this wasn’t true. The truth was he writes on Christmas too. Stephen King displays what it means to “do the work.” He doesn’t focus on trying to get on The New York Times best-sellers list. He focuses on writing quality paragraphs every day. Some days they are good. Some days they are not good.

As a coach, it is easy to be anxious about a lack of clients. We can spend time beating ourselves up for not being good enough, or just the opposite, we can judge our would-be clients for being too stubborn to hire us as their coach. But what we need to do is work every day (maybe not Christmas) on becoming a better coach and a better partner for our clients.

One of the obstacles for me in “doing the work” is that the initial work is often terrible. King writes in his book, On Writing, that he would be horrified if people ever saw the first drafts of his works. His first book, Carrie, was found in the trash by his wife. She said it was publishable. He thought it was garbage. She was right, and he became perhaps the most well-known author of our time.

When we “do the work,” our first efforts sound like the child first pulling the bow across the strings of a student violin. We often feel vulnerable and worthless, but we will get better. When I began to work toward becoming a PCC credentialed coach, I was startled by the realization that while my coaching was solid at the ACC level, it was horrendous at the PCC level. I was going to have to start doing PCC poorly if I wanted to pursue this goal. And so I started doing PCC coaching poorly, and then it got better.

Coaching frameworks are next on my “to do” list. How good are my first attempts at frameworks? Horrible. And while I prefer to just work on these frameworks in the protected space of my office, I must expose my work to others. Not necessarily publicly, but at least privately with people I trust. This feedback is essential to “doing the work.”

Anybody you know who is great at anything works at it every day. They improve their skills. They widen their knowledge. They practice. They do poor work until it becomes good work. They don’t throw pity parties, and they don’t glory in recognition. They get up every day and “do the work.” That is where you will find me every day in 2020, “doing the work.”

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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