Becoming a Superstar Employee: Lights On, Lights Off

For graduates entering the real world with their first job, wouldn’t it be great to know how you can become a superstar to your employer? In my book, 50 Rules of Success, I discuss six habits of superstar employees. While all the rules work together to set you up as a superstar employee, I believe the most important rule is:

“Lights on… lights off.”

The Karate Kid Lesson

Remember the movie The Karate Kid? One of the most memorable scenes is when master martial artist, Mr. Miyagi, agrees to train Daniel in the art of self-defense. For what seemed like months, Daniel’s training consisted of waxing cars, and Miyagi would incessantly repeat, “Wax on, wax off!” much to Daniel’s frustration. As it turns out, this ‘work’ was basic training for effective blocking techniques that Daniel would later use to defeat his archenemy. The point, in this context, is that practicing over and over builds habits that will serve you well throughout your life. It’s the discipline that makes the difference.

The Advice That Changed My Life

Before I started my first job, my father gave me this advice: “How you conduct yourself in the first six months of work will set the tone for how your employer sees you forever. Be the first one at the office (lights on) and the last one to leave (lights off). Your employer will notice and, in his or her mind, will see you as a hard worker.” I took his advice, and soon, what started out as a six-month goal became a habit that helped me start my own business.

The Benefits of “Lights on… Lights off”

Two important benefits of this rule are:

  1. Accelerated Learning Curve: Spending more time on the job leads to gaining more job experience and shortening the learning curve. When you are in a new job and learning a new career, spending more time there helps you learn faster because you are exposed to more experiences and challenges.
  2. Increased Mentorship Opportunities: I also discovered that folks were more willing to mentor the ‘new kid with hustle.’ Your higher-ups are more likely to mentor you because they see your dedication. Coworkers who notice your early and late hours will be more inclined to offer help and guidance.

A Note for Seasoned Employees

It’s never too late to become a superstar employee. If you start implementing the “Lights on; Lights off” strategy, within a few months, people will begin to notice, and you may open up new opportunities for job growth.

By implementing the “lights on, lights off” strategy, you’ll set yourself on a path to becoming a superstar employee, regardless of where you are in your career journey. To learn more, you can read my book, 50 Rules of Success.




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professional photo of certified financial planner Stewart Welch wearing black suit and red tieStewart H. Welch, III, CFP®, AEP, is the founder of THE WELCH GROUP, LLC, which specializes in providing fee-only investment management and financial advice to families throughout the United States. He is the author or co-author of six books, including 50 Rules of SuccessJ.K. Lasser’s New Rules for Estate, Retirement and Tax Planning- 6th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); THINK Like a Self-Made Millionaireand 100 Tips for Creating a Champagne Retirement on a Shoestring Budget. For more information, visit The Welch GroupConsult your financial advisor before acting on comments in this article. 




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