Saturday, July 29, 2017


Sanjiv Singh was the captain of a container ship on which I took a 42 day cruise in 2003. He and I became good friends.

Sanjiv has a blog entitled “Force 12” directed primarily at seafarers. I was browsing through his blog when I came across a post entitled “Your Work, Your Signature” which he posted on May 15 this year, and in which he described how a messman in his crew went way beyond the standard of work for his position.

In that post Sanjiv, who lives in India, made the following statement:

Performing work way above the standard expected of you is not just a matter of competence. It’s about the pleasure you derive from doing the same job clearly better in quality than the rest [of the workers]. It’s about the price you put on each task, notwithstanding how mundane or menial. This becomes your signature.

Now that’s a great statement!

I once had an elderly parolee who fit that bill. He worked as a dishwasher in a small nondescript restaurant. He always arrived early for work and usually left well beyond quitting time. Both his boss and I tried to get him to look for a better job but he said he was happy in what he was doing. That was his signature.

On the other hand, a police officer here doing his job that way would soon find himself scorned by his fellow cops and facing a pile of citizen complaints accusing him of racial profiling and using excessive force. His signature would not be appreciated. Both his fellow cops and the public would probably describe him as an asshole.

It’s too bad the signature Sanjiv described fails to be appreciated in every workplace.

1 comment:

bob walsh said...

People who break the curve are often reviled by their fellows. It isn't necessarily jealousy or the fact that the curve breaker makes them look bad. It just is. That's sad.