Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's Time to Admit It: Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

OK, time to fess up. It's Monday morning, and the truth is: This week is going to suck big time because you keep doing the same truly, truly stupid things over and over again.

How's that for uplifting career advice? Not exactly what you expected, right?

But the truth is, you keep shooting yourself in the foot, and you keep blaming other people for it. So, in the interest of keeping things simple on a Monday, I'm going to give it to you straight:

You're screwing up, and you have no one else to blame but yourself.

Let me give you some examples and see if you recognize anything familiar:

* You really, really wanted to take a day off. But you didn't want to use one of your vacation days, so you called in sick. That wimpy little cough you faked over the phone didn't fool anyone. Least of all the co-workers who ended up getting stuck with your work while you slathered on the SPF 2 while sunbathing with friends at the beach and drinking Long-Island Iced Teas by the gallon. So now the next time you need you co-workers to help you out, don't be surprised if they suddenly have other things to do -- like count paper clips or read the phone book.

* Being late is not a problem. Well, it's not a problem for you, anyway. Other people may get annoyed at your tardiness, but that's their issue. In fact, you find that you like the power you wield over others because you are late. Everyone has to wait on you, dammit, and that's an awesome feeling. Superman has his cape, Batman has the cave, and you have the power of the clock. But wait: your unwillingness to meet on time has caused the boss to dump you from an important project -- he's afraid you won't be able to meet the deadline of a demanding client. What's all that about?

* You're passionate about what you do. Translation: You're a horse's ass when you don't get your way. You yell, curse, stomp and give a performance DeNiro or Streep would envy. If it's not about you, it should be! You can take just about any situation and turn it into a reason to focus on how much you go through every day, how much you've sacrificed for your job and your employer and how no one gets it BUT YOU. Ahem. Once you rise from the fainting couch or unhinge yourself from the ceiling tiles, don't be shocked to find that people have scattered like cockroaches to get away. That doesn't exactly bode well for any promotion plans you might have, since the only way the boss is likely to get others to accept you is if he arms them with extra-large cans of Raid.

* Technology makes the job bearable. Uh...not because it helps you do your job better. No, this kind of fun comes from shopping online during those boring conference calls, playing some online poker (mama needs a new Burberry purse!), checking out friends' MySpace pages and reading about the latest addition to the Jolie-Pitt litter. Of course, you never feel guilty about this because everyone does it. Maybe you spend a couple of hours (or three or four) on personal stuff, but don't get paid enough as it is, so this is a little private benefit you've created for yourself. Doesn't really matter -- you don't plan to work at this job forever. In the meantime, ESPN is playing highlights of last night's game...
Of course, you're really pretty peeved when the boss calls you into her office and notes that the IT people have been monitoring your Internet actitivies and oh, yeah, you've just been fired. For not only misusing company time and property, but because it shows what a general screw-up you are.

So, I think you get my point. Some people try to blame their career problems on others. It's the boss. It's the co-workers. It's the company. It's the guy who empties the trash at night.

Sometimes that may be the case. But if it keeps happening to you over and over, it's time to take a look in the mirror -- and realize the real problem in your career is staring back at you.

Are you your own worst enemy -- or know someone who is?

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Anonymous said...

This hits pretty close to home. I left my last job because i couldn't get to work on time. I really didn't think it was too big of a deal until my performance evaluation. I saw that my boss was really mad about it, and I just figured I wasn't going to get ahead there. So, I left. Now, I set my clock ahead 30 minutes. So far, I haven't been late one day. I still don't think it's a big deal, but at least it keeps me from the boss getting on my back.

Anita said...

Well, I think it's fair to give credit where credit is due. You recognized that even though you didn't think it was a big deal, your bosses obviously did and so it was time to change. Too many people never learn that lesson and continue to blame others.
Thanks for posting and good luck with that new clock setting.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a pretty hard look in the mirror! I fell prey to that silly sort of thinking at my last job, surfing the Internet all day and blogging, but it didn't get me fired. It did make it a lot harder for me to interested and committed to my work, though. I know for a fact that my productivity suffered as a result of thos foolish thinking.

Anita said...

I'm glad you posted this comment, because it's something I've been thinking about for a long time. How much do we sabotage our own job satisfaction? Perhaps you felt a bit guilty, or failed to engage with others because you spent too much time on personal business. I know for me, if I don't get things done at work because I'm being "foolish," I feel much more stressed and unhappy at the end of the day.
Thanks for sharing your story.