If only you spoke Hovitos.

It’s the classic Indiana Jones Evil Villain Wins line.

But it’s also shorthand for: if only you knew the terrain and the culture better. ie – if only you studied a bit harder.  It’s a brutal own.

It’s also real.  If you know more, you can leverage it better.  It’s the same strategy that gets Jones out of Egypt when the Nazis are chasing him.  He knows more.  He has more connections.

But it’s real in life too.  Most of us just know whatever is necessary for us to cope with our job.  We don’t try to know more.  We don’t want to know what other people in our company do.  We don’t want to know what happens before and after us in the work flow.  We don’t question why we have to do things the way we do.

But the way I have done well in jobs is to know more.  To work hard and understand how what I do matters.  To understand the bigger context.  I ask a lot of questions.  Sometimes that gets perceived as a judgement by the people I’m asking.  But if you ask outside of problem situations or ask people not responsible for the problem, mostly people want to talk about what they do and what they know.  Asking them is just easy.  Listening and Learning and recognizing the pattern in the knowledge is what is helpful.

The next time you wonder why things aren’t going well at work.  Ask yourself – Do you speak Hovitos?

Admittedly, it requires patience. Don’t be afraid to ask – even if you don’t know the knowledge holder. It also requires effort at proving you are somebody worthy of respect.  If they think you slack all day they will not be as forthcoming with anything but gripes.  Which also have value but don’t teach as much.  You have to earn respect by working.  Doing small extra things that make another person’s job easier, is also helpful at making them want to share knowledge when asked.

But once you speak Hovitos, it helps in so many ways.  And the absolutely PRIMARY one is that it makes the job feel more meaningful.  It makes what you do matter more.  I used to get satisfaction from feeling like I was helping people with a fundamental need in their life, financial security.

Now I work for a transportation company.  It feels far less important.  At first I wondered how I would feel that was meaningful beyond keeping me from being homeless.   But it turns out, it’s almost easier.

A)  Travel is a direct impact experience.  How well I do my job directly affects how well someone’s day is going to be.  And if you’ve ever missed a plane, you know exactly how meaningful that impact is.

B) How I do my job affects other people at the company.  And I think we don’t emphasize that enough.  Skipping a thing you think is small and unimportant can cause a great deal of undue frustration to someone downstream in the workflow.  Doing your job well makes a huge difference to someone else’s job / day going well. Often the things that seem oddly silly and useless are designed to make someone’s job downstream far easier.  Both of those things have direct impacts on the lives of people. Doing them right is important. Those things make my job meaningful.

But I only am aware of that because I speak Hovitos.  ie. I took the time to think and ask about it.

It matters.  Speak Hovitos.  Not just because your career will be better. MOSTLY because how you feel about your job and therefore your life will improve by magnitudes.  SPEAK HOVITOS.