Wednesday is called hump day because once you clear it you’re over the hump of the week and it’s all downhill to the weekend. When you’ve worked in a job that makes you count down the hours until the weekend, you appreciate the jobs where you forget which day it is altogether. But doesn’t that make you wonder, if we’re all here for such a short time, why exactly would we spend so much time doing work that make us wish the time away?
There’s work that puts food on the table and work that is transformative. If we’re really lucky they’re one and the same. Most transformation is earned over time and hard to see while we’re doing it. Hindsight makes that job we hated seem more worthwhile when we see where it led us in our career, skills that proved more useful than we originally thought, and especially, who we met in the trenches who helped us later on. For the network is everything in a career, and the sooner we develop deep roots the faster we’ll grow.
We learn that most roots aren’t all that deep. Most are shallow connections that don’t nurture us, just as we aren’t nurturing them. LinkedIn connections are 90% shallow connections and 10% deep and meaningful. We collect thousands of connections in our careers—how many know the names of our spouse and children, or what we did to stay sane during the pandemic?
Still, even shallow roots help keep us upright most of the time. When times are good anyway. We play the game when the sun is shining and hunker down when it rains. It takes stormy days in our career to find where our deepest roots lie. When there’s a recession or a layoff and careers are being uprooted all around us, it’s the deep roots that keep us standing. They can also help us replant ourselves when everything goes badly in that one dark storm.
The very best thing about establishing deep roots is being there to help anchor others during their growth spurts or in their own time of need. There’s natural reciprocation in deep roots, and the bond strengthen both ways. It’s always better to take the initiative in helping others, for roots intuitively know where to find nourishment just as they know where the dead ends are. How we feel about Wednesdays might be one indicator of the health of our root system.
When we establish such deep roots, we don’t think about things like hump day much at all, we think about contribution and collaboration, and we think about growth. Our lives, and certainly our careers, will fly by before we know it. What will it mean in the end? Generally, through good jobs and bad, shallow roots and deep, it comes down to what we put into it.