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How To Be Happy At Work - A Practical Guide To Career Satisfaction - Arlene S. Hirsch

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Arlene S. Hirsch 


America』s Career Publisher 


How to Be Happy at Work, Second Edition 

. 2004 by Arlene S. Hirsch 

Published by JIST Works, an imprint of JIST Publishing, Inc. 
8902 Otis Avenue 
Indianapolis, IN 46216-1033 
Phone: 1-800-648-JIST Fax: 1-800-JIST-FAX E-mail: info@jist.com 

Visit our Web site at www.jist.com for information on JIST, free job search tips, book 
chapters, and ordering instructions for our many products! 

Quantity discounts are available for JIST books. Please call our Sales Department at 
1-800-648-5478 for a free catalog and more information. 

Acquisitions and Development Editor: Lori Cates Hand 
Interior Designers: designLab, Seattle; Trudy Coler 
Page Layout: Trudy Coler 
Cover Designer: Nick Anderson 
Proofreader: Deb Kincaid 

Printed in Canada 
07 06 05 04 03 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Hirsch, Arlene S., 1951


How to be happy at work : a practical guide to career satisfaction / Arlene S. Hirsch.--
2nd ed. 

p. cm. 
Rev. ed. of: Love your work and success will follow. c1996. 

Includes index. 

ISBN 1-56370-980-5 

1. Vocational guidance. 2. Success in business. 3. Job satisfaction. I. Hirsch, Arlene S., 
1951- Love your work and success will follow. II. Title. 
HF5381.H516 2004 

650.1--dc22 2003017302 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, or 
stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher 
except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews. Making copies of any 
part of this book for any purpose other than your own personal use is a violation of United 
States copyright laws. 

We have been careful to provide accurate information in this book, but it is possible that 
errors and omissions have been introduced. Please consider this in making any career plans 
or other important decisions. Trust your own judgment above all else and in all things. 

Trademarks: All brand names and product names used in this book are trade names, service 
marks, trademarks, or registered trademarks of their respective owners. 


About This Book 

It』s not easy to tell others how to be happy at work, especially 
people who feel as if they』re living in a career combat zone. I 
know the battleground well. For the past 20 years, I』ve been a 
career counselor, psychotherapist, and corporate outplacement 
consultant. In that time, I』ve seen more casualties of the career 
wars than most people experience in a lifetime. I know what it 
takes to be happy with your work. But I also know there』s no 
simple formula to achieve career success and satisfaction. 

The workplace is chaotic. If you』re like most people, you probably 
feel that you』re living a career nightmare: working harder to 
make a living with fewer available resources, more demands on 
your time, and lots of disincentives to achievement. Perhaps you 
fantasize about chucking the whole scene. Right about now, life 
on the golf course, ski slopes, or a sandy beach can look mighty 
appealing. 

Maybe you just need a good, long vacation. You don』t want to 
drop out of the workforce altogether, but you』re hungering for a 
new adventure. You want more control over your time and your 
destiny. Your rallying cry is More Freedom, Less Office Politics! 

This book is for anyone who needs a change in his or her work 
life. It can be a change in the kind of work you do, or in how, 
when, or where you do it. I』m prepared to show you how to 
make your career more deeply fulfilling. To use my advice, however, 
you』ll need to set aside your normal modus operandi. I want 
you to open your mind to new possibilities. 

Some of my ideas might seem strange initially. Please mull them 
over carefully before you discard them. Although my tone is, 
sometimes, idealistic, I』d categorize myself as a realistic optimist. 
You can』t achieve your deepest desires without hope. And I have 
never met a really happy cynic. 

In what many people call 「the real world,」 it』s assumed that 
financial success is the key ingredient to satisfaction. I question 


this assumption. Although economic security settles the mind and 
can even quiet the soul, money alone can』t create deep career fulfillment. 
To be deeply fulfilled through work, you must integrate 
your financial needs and goals with your spiritual desires. I use 
the word 「spiritual」 cautiously, knowing that it』s often equated 
with religion. What I have in mind is a more secular spirituality 
that doesn』t call forth visions of God in the workplace. Derived 
from the Latin word spiritus, which means 「breath,」 spirituality, 
in this sense, refers to those animating life principles that enable 
you to feel most completely alive. 

When you bring energy, enthusiasm, and passion to your work, 
you infuse your livelihood with a vitality that drives away boredom. 
Add creativity, growth, meaning, and service, and you』ll 
find that alienation will disappear, too. By adding depth to your 
work, you can soar to greater heights. I often see people who are 
successful in conventional terms but otherwise are deeply dissatisfied 
with their careers. If that』s your situation, you might not get 
much sympathy from the people around you. Nevertheless, when 
work is not a true reflection of your interests, talents, and values, 
it can make you very unhappy. 

In this way, I am fortunate. My counseling and writing enable me 
to express myself in ways that are compatible with the person I 
understand myself to be. They challenge me to develop my talents 
rather than suppress them. Although I never confuse my job title 
with my identity, I do believe there』s a connection between your 
occupation and your career fulfillment. To the extent that your 
work enables you to develop your talents, express your beliefs, 
and engage your interests, it will be satisfying. Conversely, work 
that doesn』t fit your skills and personality won』t be rewarding. 
Therefore, if you seek career fulfillment, you must always ask 
yourself first and foremost: Does my work suit my needs and 
ambitions? If the answer is no, you must take steps to remedy 
that problem. 

When I set out to write this book, it wasn』t my intention to write 
a treatise on personal responsibility. But, as the project unfolded, 


it became abundantly clear that too much passivity is a major 
obstacle to career satisfaction. Far too many people live their 
lives according to societal, parental, or even employer agendas, 
instead of thinking through and acting on their own singular 
strengths and visions. 

To see your way to a more uniquely individual life experience 
(and greater vocational satisfaction), you must deprogram yourself 
from what others want you to do and expect you to be. In 
writing this book, my goal is to start the ball rolling in that direction. 


In part 1, I introduce a number of psychological challenges that 
are important to address and resolve on the road to career satisfaction, 
including the all-important need to create a personal life 
agenda and timetable. 

In part 2, I address some of the tough organizational realities that 
have evolved over the last decade. At a time when job security has 
vanished and organizational restructuring is on nearly every corporate 
menu, it』s crucial to take more aggressive responsibility for 
your short-and long-term career goals. Although it』s difficult to 
control your career destiny in today』s environment, which is more 
like emotional quicksand than solid ground, it』s still possible to 
influence your surroundings and development in healthy ways. 
Amid the change and chaos, there are genuine opportunities for 
growth and happiness. But the spoils don』t go to the timid or the 
passive. You have to assert yourself in the right way to the right 
people. 

Finally, part 3 continues to pursue the theme of personal responsibility. 
The chapters in this part explore alternative work styles 
and schedules that you can adopt to increase autonomy and 
enhance the quality of your life; and build on the twin themes of 
interconnection and collaboration. 

At the end of each chapter, I』ve included a 「Thought-Starter 
Worksheet」 to set you on the road to healthy introspection. 
Please don』t complete these exercises on the Stairmaster. Find 


yourself a quiet place to reflect on your thoughts, experiences, 
and desires, and write your answers in the spaces provided. 

We』re an action-oriented society: a nation of doers. But when 
it comes to career fulfillment, the path to happiness begins 
inwardly, with introspection and self-knowledge. Professionally 
speaking, I was raised in the world of psychoanalysis, where 
there』s a strongly held conviction that all healthy, self-directed 
action rests firmly on the foundation of self-knowledge. Knowing 
that, you won』t be surprised to discover that my first goal in 
this book is to increase your capacity for introspection and 
deepen your self-knowledge. That process requires your active 
participation. 

To be truly happy with your work, you must forge a path that fits 
your needs and life goals. No one is going to hand you the perfect 
career on the proverbial 「silver platter.」 The issue, as psychiatrist 
Thomas Szasz tells us, is not whether or not you』ve 
found yourself; it』s whether or not you』ve taken the time to create 
yourself. 

Freud once identified 「work」 and 「love」 as the two greatest 
sources of human happiness. For me, this book has been a true 
labor of love. If it helps you make fulfilling life and work 
changes, it will have done its job and I, too, will be well satisfied. 

—Arlene S. Hirsch 

Dedication 

To Nancy Hirsch 


CONTENTS 


Part 1: Career Choice and Success from Graduation 
to Retirement and Beyond 1 

Chapter 1: Career Choice: What Do You 
Want to Be…Now That You』re 
Grown Up? 3 
Career-Choice Generation Gaps 5 
Looking Forward to Career Growth 13 
Take a Personal Career Interest Survey 18 

Chapter 2: Do You Know the Secrets of Career 
Success? 25 

Rule 1: Motivation Is the Key to Success 26 
Rule 2: Success Takes Hard Work 28 
Rule 3: Follow Your Dream 30 
Rule 4: Honor Your Talents 34 
Rule 5: Manage Yourself 36 
Rule 6: Take Calculated Risks 39 

Chapter 3: Fail(ure) Is Not a Four-Letter Word 47 
The Thrill of Defeat? 49 
Common Causes of Career Failure 51 
Turning Failures Around 62 


CONTENTS 

Chapter 4: Oh No, 50!: Midlife Career Transitions 69 
Are You Just Waiting for a Pension? 71 
A New Phase of Life 72 
Managing Late Career Change 80 
Limitless Potential 83 

Part 2: Career Security 93 

Chapter 5: Achieving Career Security in 
Turbulent Times 95 

Do Good Work 96 
Develop Marketable Skills 97 
Be Willing to Pitch In 99 
Expect the Unexpected 99 
Develop an Innovative Spirit 101 
Learn to Manage Risk 101 
Know How to Job Hunt 103 
Feed Your Rolodex 105 

Chapter 6: How to Love the Job You Hate 113 
Strategy 1: Stop Watching the Clock 114 
Strategy 2: Learn to Take a Compliment 115 
Strategy 3: Pat Yourself on the Back (Occasionally) 116 
Strategy 4: Take Criticism for What It』s Worth 118 
Strategy 5: View Politics as a Challenge 119 
Strategy 6: Build Positive Relationships 123 
Strategy 7: Stay Positive 125 
Strategy 8: Take Responsibility for Your Own 
Happiness 125 
Strategy 9: Don』t Confuse Your Job with Your Life 127 
Strategy 10: Have a Plan to Get Out 128 


CONTENTS 

Chapter 7: Layoff Survivors』 Dilemma: 
Put Up or Shut Up 133 
Anxiety Rules 134 
Get in Touch with Your Emotions 135 
Devise New Solutions 137 
Make a Commitment to Be Part of the Solution 140 
Attitude Is a Key Variable 141 
View This as a Learning Opportunity 142 
Don』t Let Others Hold You Back 144 
Be Prepared to Walk Away 146 

Chapter 8: Quitting Your Job 153 

The Lies We Tell Ourselves 154 
Timing Your Departure 160 
An Emotional Journey 162 
Saying Farewell 163 

Part 3: The Path to Career Happiness 171 

Chapter 9: Business Ethics: What』s Your 
Bottom Line? 173 
An FBI Agent Stands Up for Her Principles 175 
A Lack of Ethics 176 
The Argument for Business Ethics 178 
When Co-Workers Do Wrong 180 
There』s Strength in Numbers 182 
Fight Subtle Pressures 183 
Find a Role Model 185 
Defend Your Rights 186 
Reshape the World 187 
Trust Your Inner Strength 188 


CONTENTS 

Chapter 10: Work/Life Balance: Making a 
Life While Making a Living 197 

Take a Break 199 
Thinking of a Permanent Vacation? 201 
Starting a Whole New Life 203 
Less Is More? 205 
Moving Someplace Else Isn』t Always the Answer 207 
Alternative Work Arrangements 209 
Pay Attention to Yourself 213 
Start on the Right Foot 215 

Chapter 11: Having Fun at Work 221 

Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine 222 
Laugh in the Face of Fear 224 
Finding Everyday Fun 224 
From Play to Success 227 
What Delights You? 231 
Take on a New Adventure 233 
Improve Your Social Life 234 

Chapter 12: We, Inc.: Working with Others 
or Starting Your Own Business 243 
Managing Your Boss 243 
Finding a Mentor 247 
Starting Your Own Business 251 

Appendix: Your Career Happiness Plan 263 

Index 289 


PART 1 


Career Choice and Success from 
Graduation to Retirement and 
Beyond 


Chapter 1: Career Choice: What Do You Want to Be…Now 
That You』re Grown Up? 

Chapter 2: Do You Know the Secrets of Career Success? 

Chapter 3: Fail(ure) Is Not a Four-Letter Word 

Chapter 4: Oh, No, 50!: Midlife Career Transitions 


CHAPTER 1 


Career Choice: What Do You 
Want to Be…Now That You』re 
Grown Up? 

「How old do you have to be before you feel like a grown-up in your own 
head?」 

—Bob Greene 

I
I
t was Monday morning, and my week wasn』t 
getting off to a great start. Stuck in traffic on 
the Kennedy Expressway, I was already late 

for my first appointment with a corporate client. As I fiddled with the 
radio looking for a traffic report, a commercial caught my attention: 

「Allison, do you want to be a ballerina when you grow up?」 a man 
asked. 

「Please, Daddy,」 a tiny voice replied. 「I』m only three. I』m not planning 
to make any career decisions until I』m six.」 

I don』t remember the product they were advertising (what could it possibly 
be?). But that clever two-line dialogue is permanently etched in 
my memory, reminding me of how much we are encouraged—and 
how much we encourage others—to define ourselves by our work. 

Kids』 fantasies often reflect their television worlds. When I was growing 
up, there weren』t many celebrity role models for girls; and the ones 
that existed had helpmate or sidekick roles. There were Lois Lane, 


:^) CHAPTER 1 

Lucille Ball, Dale Evans, or June Cleaver from which to choose. To 
me, the most interesting possibilities were Annie Oakley, a hard-riding 
tomboy with pigtails, and Matt Dillon』s worldly saloon-keeper companion, 
Miss Kitty. 

But I didn』t live in the wild, Wild West. I lived in Skokie, Illinois, 
where the mode of transportation was more likely to be a Chevy 
Impala than a horse named Bullet. Most of the women I knew really 
did aspire to be the suburban-perfect June Cleaver (as opposed to 
Barbara Billingsley, the actress who portrayed her). In those prefeminist 
days, real-life women who worked outside the home were routed 
into professions or jobs that capitalized on nurturing and caretaking 
roles such as nursing, teaching, social work, and secretarial jobs. 

Although similarly constricted, the boys had a range of more adventurous 
fantasy choices. They could be Superman or Batman, the Lone 
Ranger or Zorro, or any one of a million athletes. My brother, who 
played baseball throughout grammar school, high school, and college, 
had dreams of being the next Mickey Mantle or Roger Maris or Willie 
Mays. Even their 「realistic」 choices looked more glamorous. 
Ambitious boys aspired to be doctors, lawyers, or businessmen— 
professions that would net them wealth, power, prestige, and 
recognition. 

It wasn』t until the sixties—when feminism and technology 
converged—that new dreams and possibilities opened up to and for 
women. Today we are just as likely to expect and want our daughters 
to be doctors, lawyers, and businesswomen. Young girls today still 
dream of becoming ballerinas or horsewomen. But they are equally 
enamored of becoming the next Britney Spears, Ally McBeal, or 
basketball star Cynthia Cooper. 

Boys』 fantasies haven』t changed nearly as much. Young boys still 
dream of becoming the next superhero or superathlete. What has 
changed is that now they have to compete with the girls for the top 
spots. 


CAREER CHOICE :^) 

Career-Choice Generation Gaps 

Every generation has its collective values and beliefs. Depression-era 
parents passed their values for financial security, wealth, and status 
onto their baby-boomer children. The baby-boomer generation was 
the first group to collectively espouse the importance of career satisfaction 
along with success. When baby boomers began to discover 
career success was rewarding but not necessarily satisfying, they began 
to reexamine the values and beliefs they had internalized from their 
parents. They also began to pass along new messages to their own 
children. Interestingly, the children of baby-boomer parents are likely 
to complain that their parents were too open-minded or didn』t provide 
them with enough direction. 

「My parents told me that I could be anything that I wanted to be,」 
says Leslie, a 22-year-old graduate student in psychology. 「My problem 
is that I don』t have any idea what I want to be.」 

Her situation is eerily reminiscent of the one that Lily Tomlin』s character 
confronts in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the 
Universe when she comments: 「I always wanted to be somebody, but 
I should have been more specific.」 

When it comes to choosing your life』s work—or any work at all—you 
are choosing a work role, and not self definition. You are not what 
you do. You are what you are. Your identity is comprised of your 
character, your values, your personality, and the many roles you play 
in life. You are not only a doctor or a lawyer. You are also a husband 
or a wife, a son or a daughter, a parent, a friend, a colleague. This is 
an important message to keep in mind when you want to choose or 
change careers. 

Choosing a career often involves a journey of self-discovery. Lisa was 
a second-year law student when she came to me for career advice. She 
knew that she didn』t like law or want to be a lawyer, but she worried 
about what other people would say if she dropped out of law school 
to pursue her real passion—to become a television news producer. 


:^) CHAPTER 1 

This was her childhood dream and her adult passion; but she worried 
about choosing such a competitive field. 

She was facing a tough choice. Broadcast journalism is one of the most 
intensely competitive career choices. On the other hand, she had an 
undergraduate degree in journalism from a prestigious college. She 
was willing and able to go to graduate school in broadcast journalism 
to secure an educational base for her career dream. Because she was 
still in law school, she had not yet acquired a lavish lifestyle. She could 
afford to take the risk. But there was no guarantee that she would succeed. 


To help her make that decision, we toyed with a larger perspective. I 
asked her to project herself 10 years into the future. How would she 
feel if she was working as a lawyer? How would she feel if she had not 
been successful in broadcast journalism? 

The answers to these questions helped her get unstuck because she 
realized that, even if she succeeded in law, she would always question 
whether she could have been successful in a field she felt passionate 
about. Once she made a decision to take a leave of absence from law 
school, she was surprised at how supportive her family and friends 
were of her decision, and how helpful they were in connecting her up 
with people who worked in the television business. Although Lisa is 
still nervous about her future, she is so energetic and passionate about 
the work that others find her enthusiasm contagious. If Emerson was 
right that 「nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,」 she 
is definitely on the road to greatness. 

The Hansel and Gretel Theory of Career 
Discovery 

To uncover your career dream, my friend and colleague Cheryl Heisler 
recommends what she calls 「the Hansel and Gretel approach.」 To 
find your way back to your original career dream, she says, you have 
to look for clues in the crumbs that you』ve abandoned along the way. 
Search your past for discarded interests, dreams, and goals. You might 
be surprised to find them still awake inside you. 


CAREER CHOICE :^) 

Heisler knows firsthand the value of such a journey of self-discovery. 
Originally, she chose law because her father, a pharmacist, though it 
would be a good field for a bright, creative, articulate woman such as 
his daughter (she』d been voted 「Friendliest Person」 of her senior high 
school class). But the law isn』t always the friendliest profession. It』s 
filled with conflict and adversarial relationships. It took Heisler only 
a few years of practicing law to figure out that it wasn』t the right 
choice for her. 

As she looked for clues to her next career choice, she reflected back on 
her college major, which was advertising. She decided to pursue a 
position in marketing—advertising』s first cousin—and subsequently 
landed a brand-management job at Kraft Foods. 

If brand management wasn』t her ultimate calling, it did prove to be a 
good outlet for her creativity (which made her good at positioning 
new products) and her outgoing personality (which made her excellent 
at client relationships). Along the way, she also discovered that career 
choice is not always a one-time experience. The more she learned 
about herself and the job market, the better she was able to understand 
how to make good choices. When she realized that product 
management involved too much number-crunching (for a woman who 
never liked math), she found herself once again on the lookout for 
new options. 

As it turns out, she didn』t have to search hard for her next career 
direction. Essentially, it came to her in the form of other attorneys 
who had heard about her career change and wanted to ask her advice 
on how they could change careers, too. When she discovered how 
much demand there was for such information and how much she 
enjoyed counseling other lawyers, she founded Lawternatives, a 
career-consulting firm that counsels lawyers about career-change 
options. 

For Heisler, the hardest part of becoming a career counselor was giving 
up the job title of 「lawyer.」 Even as a brand manager for Kraft, 
she referred to herself as a 「lawyer who was doing marketing.」 She 


:^) CHAPTER 1 

began to realize how much of her identity was vested in her job title. 
It was only as she grew to love her counseling business that she was 
able to relinquish the lawyer title. 

「I have a job where I can be myself and be appreciated,」 says Heisler. 
「What better title can I wear?」 

Hand-Me-Down Dreams 

Cheryl Heisler looked backwards (to her career choice history) first, 
in order to move forward with a new dream. In addition to reclaiming 
a lapsed interest, she also needed to revisit her father』s career 
advice, in order to take more personal responsibility for her choices. 

Her journey reminds us that the process of self-discovery is also a separation 
process. You can』t go forward without looking backward. You 
must understand how family dynamics and expectations influenced 
(and continued to influence) your career choices and development, in 
order to liberate yourself from unconscious conflicts and motivations. 

This is not an indictment of your parents or your childhood. Every 
parent has unfulfilled dreams, wishes, and needs, which children often 
intuit as an unspoken demand. A father whose dream of becoming a 
professional baseball player was thwarted pushes his son too hard to 
win. A mother who regrets dropping out of law school to get married 
and have kids makes no secret of how gratified she is by her daughter』s 
career decision to become a lawyer. Later, both the mother and 
the daughter are profoundly disappointed when the daughter finds 
herself temperamentally ill-suited to the profession. 

In another (real-life) scenario, Richard fulfilled his father』s aborted 
dream to become a lawyer. Richard』s father had flunked out of law 
school in his twenties. He went into the construction business and the 
bar business, and ultimately owned a restaurant. But Richard』s father 
never forgot his first dream. 

When Richard, his firstborn son, decided to go to law school to 
become a lawyer, his father was thrilled with his son』s decision and 


CAREER CHOICE :^) 

forever after lived vicariously through his son』s many career achievements. 
Fortunately, Richard liked and was well-suited to the law. This 
was not true for his younger brother, David, an equally talented and 
ambitious young man who made a name for himself in the field of 
medicine. Despite David』s equally impressive career achievements, his 
father never showed the same interest or pride in David』s career. His 
dad simply couldn』t relate to his son』s ambitions or accomplishments. 

As kids, we use our parents like mirrors. We solicit their advice, 
observe their choices, and respond to their expectations. It can take a 
lifetime to realize that your parents』 advice might have been bad 
advice (or, at least, bad for you). Part of growing up is recognizing that 
your parents don』t have all the answers. To find your way to a more 
fulfilling work life, you might have to unlearn some of that flawed 
advice you got from your mom and dad. 

Eleanor Roosevelt was right when she said, 「You can』t live anyone 
else』s life—not even your child』s.」 Why, then, do so many parents feel 
compelled to present their kids with ready-made answers to Life』s 
Tough Questions rather than help them develop the experience, self-
knowledge, and self-confidence to create their own solutions? 
Although parents do have a responsibility to instill good values, much 
of what parades as the 「right thing to do」 can relate more to parental 
narcissism than any objective standard of correctness. Too many parents 
push their own personal dream of success and call it reality. 

Lauren was a 28-year-old accountant who came to see me because she 
was bored to tears by her career and wanted to do something more 
creative. A closer examination of her career history revealed that she 
had chosen accounting because her accountant-father told her it was 
a 「good profession.」 She trusted his wisdom and followed his advice, 
only to discover that it was all wrong for her. 

When she went back to her father to ask him why he thought accounting 
was a good profession when she found it so boring, he replied: 「I 
said it was a good profession. I never said it was interesting.」 


:^) CHAPTER 1 

Too late, Lauren realized her mistake. When she said she wanted a 
good profession, she meant that she wanted an interesting profession. 
Her father was working with a different mindset. To him, a good profession 
was one where he could make a lot of money and support his 
family』s lifestyle. Once she realized her own needs for more interesting 
and creative work, Lauren went back to school and became an interior 
designer, a field which she finds more creatively stimulating. 

My career counseling practice is filled with stories like this: young 
men and women who followed their parents』 career advice, only to 
discover that it made them unhappy. Much of the time, the parents 
assumed that a well-paying job would make their kids happy. What 
their offspring are discovering is that 「making money」 is a necessary 
condition for career success and satisfaction; but it is not sufficient. 
You need to make money at work that is meaningful to you. 

When I was growing up, my parents shared a dream for my brother 
to become either an accountant or a tax attorney. This reflected their 
Depression-era dreams for financial stability and comfort. My brother』s 
needs and dreams were different. He valued creativity and intellect 
above all else, which is why he chose to become a writer and an 
English professor. My parents worried obsessively that he would 
「starve.」 But they underestimated their son』s intellectual talents, as 
well as his enormous competitive drive to succeed. Had he followed 
their advice and become a tax attorney, he would undoubtedly have 
failed miserably for several reasons. He is not skilled in mathematics; 
he has no interest in tax or law; making money is important to him, 
but it has never been his first priority. He would have found the work 
and the environment intellectually and creatively boring. His passion 
for his work—and particularly his love of literature and poetry—has 
fueled much of his success. 

There Are No Perfect Career Choices 

There is no one right answer to the question 「what do you want to be 
when you grow up?」 Nor is there any cookie-cutter formula for success. 
Good choices are individual choices. They are based on an 


CAREER CHOICE :^) 

understanding of how to interweave your individual interests, abilities, 
values, and personality with the job market. Some of the best 
career paths are ones that you create for yourself based on your talents 
and the world』s needs. 

Part of growing up, it seems, means figuring out that your parents 
don』t have all the answers, even if they think they do. In a wonderful 
episode from The Wonder Years, the television series about a baby 
boomer nostalgically reliving his years of innocence, 12-year-old 
Kevin Arnold goes to work with his normally gruff and unapproachable 
father one day. The encounter turns into an important 「comingof-
age」 experience. 

Dressed in matching suits and ties, the two male Arnolds are greeted 
by a small staff of fawning employees who pinch Kevin』s cheeks and 
ask him what he wants to be when he grows up. Inside his father』s 
office, Kevin is astounded and impressed by the 「grown-up toys」 he 
sees everywhere—but especially his father』s Big Desk and Giant Chair. 

His father is immediately bombarded with emergency phone calls and 
people crises. As he adroitly handles them one by one, Kevin leans 
back in the Giant Chair and props his feet up on the Big Desk, watching 
the action and fantasizing about 「how great it must be to have 
power.」 

A rare moment of father-son intimacy ensues a few minutes later 
when, in the cafeteria, Kevin asks his father: 「Did you always want to 
be the Manager of Distribution Support and Product Services?」 His 
father laughs, telling his son, 「When I was your age, I wanted to be 
captain of a big ship with a big mast. Be on the ocean. Navigate by the 
stars.」 

When asked about what happened to his dream, Mr. Arnold describes 
how he generally settled into adult responsibilities. He claims no 
regret about the lost dreams of youth. 「You can』t do every silly thing 
you want in life,」 he tells his son. Back at the office, Kevin』s dad is 
accosted by his boss and chewed out for not taking his phone calls. As 
Kevin looks on, the Big Boss threatens to fire his father if he ever 


:^) CHAPTER 1 

makes that mistake again. Mr. Arnold never says a word in his own 
defense. 

Later that night, father and son stand outside gazing upward at the 
stars, pondering the day』s events. As his father searches the sky for 
Polaris, Kevin realizes that he, too, has lost something. His father 
doesn』t scare him anymore. 

I wish that my client 「Claudia」 had learned that same lesson before 
she relinquished her childhood dream of becoming a 「singer, actress, 
or teacher」 to follow her father』s dictate that she go to medical school 
and become a doctor. Her father, who was a health-care administrator, 
always wanted to be a doctor. But, as a (pre–civil rights) African-
American male, he encountered too much racial discrimination to 
pursue his dream. He was determined that his children would have the 
advantages and rights that he had never had. 

By her own admission, Claudia never had the courage to defy her 
father; but she never wanted to be a doctor, either. She assumed that 
he knew best and now, at 35 years old, she is paying the price for that 
misguided belief. 「I』m living my father』s dream,」 she says, 「and it』s 
making me miserable.」 

The real problem with parents who foist their personal preferences 
onto their children isn』t so much whether the parent is right or wrong, 
but that the parent is taking over a decision that isn』t theirs to make. 
As a child, you might not feel free to choose; but as an adult, you are. 

The road to adulthood is paved with renunciation. But whether that 
renunciation takes the form of giving up your personal dream (as 
Kevin』s father did), or giving up the belief that your parents are omniscient 
and omnipotent (as Kevin did), is up to you. What is clear is that, 
as an adult, you have a responsibility to forge your own reality and 
make your own choices. It』s up to you how much you want to risk and 
how much you want to compromise. 

To this day, Claudia regrets that she did not pursue her dream of 
becoming a singer. Although she knows that it would have been risky, 


CAREER CHOICE :^) 

she also wonders whether she could have been successful at it, if she 
had focused all of her energy and attention on that goal. With so many 
student loans to repay, she feels increasingly trapped by her financial 
responsibilities, even though she makes a good living as a physician. 

What many people (of all ages) fail to realize is how important it is to 
like and care about the work you do—to do work you love and love 
the work you do. Tom Peters, a noted author and management consultant, 
has said that when it comes to career choices, it』s inconceivable 
to him that ambitious and talented people would do anything 
other than follow their hearts toward things they love. How can you 
possibly expect to be successful, Peters asks, if you don』t care about 
and value the work you do? 

Looking Forward to Career Growth 

The Hansel and Gretel strategy requires some 20/20 hindsight. It 
involves learning from your mistakes and redirecting your path 
toward more rewarding and fulfilling choices. But there is also a part 
of you that needs to go exploring, to learn about career fields and 
choices to which you might not yet have gained exposure. 

There might be 26,000 occupations in the labor force, but most people 
tend to focus their attention on a handful of possibilities. Rather 
than limit yourself to specific job titles (which can often be misleading), 
try focusing on what career consultant Bernard Haldane called 
「motivated skills.」 A motivated skill is something that you like to do, 
and do well. That』s how an insurance claims manager who likes project 
management and writing became a technical writer, a CPA with a 
passion for New Age health care became a spa manager, and a systems 
engineer with an innate talent for foreign languages positioned 
herself as an international expert in telecommunications. Instead of 
focusing on job titles, these successful career changers did some 「soul-
searching」 to figure out what they were really good at and loved to 
do. Then they positioned themselves accordingly. 


:^) CHAPTER 1 

There are also career changers whose primary motivation is to keep 
on growing and learning. What they want is variety, challenge, and 
intellectual stimulation. These are people who should expect to 
change careers voluntarily several times over the course of their working 
lives because they will always need a new challenge. To become 
too closely identified with a job title or career identity would be 
severely self-limiting. 

This is how (and why) a test engineer became an engineering manager, 
a management consultant, an entrepreneur, and finally, a professor. 
At each transition point in his career path, he determined what he 
needed to do in order to stay stimulated and energized—and then 
committed himself to doing it. 

Changing Careers—The New Norm 

The days of choosing one career for life are long gone. Perhaps they 
should never have existed at all. Isn』t it unrealistic to think that the 
career choice you made at 20 should automatically suit your needs at 
30, 40, 50, or 60? If your first career choice doesn』t work out the way 
you once hoped it would, there』s no reason why you can』t continue to 
make new choices that better suit your needs. My oldest career-change 
client was age 70 when she decided to retire from medicine and pursue 
a law degree. (She then became a medical-legal consultant to a 
medical products manufacturer.) 

Somewhere along the line you might have picked up the mistaken idea 
that the need for growth stops in adulthood. But it is only people with 
limited career ambitions or those who 「learned everything they needed 
to know in kindergarten」 who can expect to roll gracefully into 
retirement without changing one iota. 

To lead a fulfilling life, you need to keep challenging yourself to grow 
at every stage in your life. Frank Mackey exemplifies that philosophy. 
Mackey retired from a successful law practice in Little Rock, 
Arkansas, (in his sixties) to pursue an acting career in Chicago. Later 
he moved on to New York City. This isn』t his first career change. His 


CAREER CHOICE :^) 

previous vocational hats include sales, marketing, human resources, 
and business management. He also preaches what he practices. One of 
the most liberating career moments for Mackey』s son came with his 
father』s recommendation that he 「stop trying to choose for life and 
start thinking in five-year increments.」 From that day forward, the 
younger Mackey felt free to pursue careers on the stock exchange, in 
business management, and in real estate. 

Many baby-boomer parents have been reluctant to make the same 
mistakes that their parents did. When it comes to offering career 
advice and guidance, they are inclined to tell their sons and daughters 
that 「you can do anything you want to do.」 Although their kids often 
appreciate all this freedom of choice, they also often complain that the 
advice is unhelpful. 

「I know I can do anything I want to do,」 says Leslie, a 21-year-old 
retail sales clerk. 「My problem is I don』t know what I want to do.」 
Nor can she be expected to. She hasn』t worked long enough or developed 
strong enough vocational interests to be able to make a good 
career choice. What she needs to do is to commit herself to the process 
of figuring out what career choice makes the most sense for her. Leslie 
can follow her interests and experiment with new skills and different 
environments. Her goal should be to learn more about herself and the 
job market, and to gain more confidence in her abilities (and more 
skills). In her case, a career plan is nothing more—or less—than a 
highly individualized learning plan. She needs to focus on identifying 
what she needs to know and learn in order to make good career decisions. 


This advice doesn』t just apply to 20-year-olds. If you』ve been working 
in one career field or industry for any length of time, you might not 
know enough about other career opportunities or feel qualified 
enough to pursue other options. Recognizing your limitations does 
not have to be the endpoint. It should become the starting point for 
new growth and development. 


:^) CHAPTER 1 

Becoming a Grown-Up 

Gerontologist Stephen Baum makes the distinction between cultural 
adulthood and emotional adulthood. Cultural adults are people who 
have acquired the possessions of adulthood. They have houses, cars, 
and kids. They live adult lives. Emotional adulthood has different 
requirements. Emotional adulthood means making authentic choices 
and living an authentic life. 

When columnist Bob Greene asked, 「How old are you supposed to be 
before you become a grown-up in your own head?」 he was reflecting 
on the consequences that come from living your life according to 
someone else』s agenda. Taking on the conventions of adulthood might 
make you a cultural adult; but it can also keep you one step removed 
from your real dreams and desires. 

Author Tom Clancy remembers the moment when he reached that 
epiphany. He was in his mid-thirties at the time, living the traditional 
American dream. He had a wife, two kids, and a fairly successful 
career in the insurance business. He also had a car and car payments, 
a house with a mortgage, and other trappings of middle-class 
respectability. But he knew something was missing when he asked 
himself for the umpteenth time: 「What do I want to be when I grow 
up?」 

Says Clancy: 「The stunning and depressing realization hit me that I 
was grown up, and I might not be what I wanted to be.」 

Clancy』s dilemma reflects a failure of imagination. What he lacked 
was a dream of his own. He was so busy following society』s agenda, 
he hadn』t realized that he was programming himself for unhappiness. 
The type of success he had been taught would make him content 
turned out to be surprisingly unfulfilling. 

To arrive at a more emotionally satisfying resolution, he had to make 
more self-directed choices, to forge a different kind of connection to 
his work that would enable him to express himself more fully. Clancy 
was an insurance broker with a passion for naval history. He had once 


CAREER CHOICE :^) 

dreamed of writing a novel that reflected that passion. So, he handed 
over the reins of his insurance business to his wife while he wrote a 
novel about a Russian submarine captain who defects, along with his 
submarine, to the United States. The Hunt for Red October was the 
first of many Tom Clancy successes and the beginning of a new literary 
genre known as the techno-thriller that includes Red Rabbit, 
Shadow Warriors, The Bear and the Dragon, and Patriot Games. 

Many dissatisfied careerists recognize themselves in Clancy』s dilemma. 
Surrounded with financial responsibilities, it isn』t easy to 「follow your 
dream」—or even to find it under all the layers of conventional thinking 
that obscure it. 

Can Money Buy Happiness? 

Money plays an important role in career choice and development. But 
it does not play the same role for everyone. How much money you 
need to make depends on: (1) your financial goals; and (2) your 
personal values. If you are not a money-oriented kind of person, it 
simply doesn』t make sense to choose a career strictly for its financial 
rewards. It is unrealistic to think that you will be able to stay motivated 
in a career or profession that is meaningless to you. More likely 
you will end up feeling trapped by what career experts call 「golden 
handcuffs.」 People with golden handcuffs are chained to their jobs or 
professions either because they can』t afford to leave or because they 
have become so attached to the financial rewards that they don』t want 
to make less money, even though they hate their work. 

This is definitely the case for my friend Joel. Joel is a lawyer who has 
worked in the same office for 20 years. He can do the work with his 
eyes closed; and, in fact, he often does, which accounts for why he 
feels like he』s sleepwalking through the day. Joel claims he wants to 
change careers—「to do something meaningful and important.」 But 
he』s been waffling for years because he doesn』t want to give up his safe 
job and comfortable income. Although this is definitely understandable, 
he is also digging a vocational grave for himself. The longer he 
waits, the harder the change will become. At 45, he doesn』t have an 


:^) CHAPTER 1 

infinite amount of time left to work. If he doesn』t make a move soon, 
he might not be able to make a move at all. Joel never had a specific 
career passion. Early in his career, he wanted to be a professional, 
make some money, and feel secure. After 20-plus years following that 
gold-brick road, he now wants to do something that is more meaningful 
to him. 

The initial emphasis that parents and their offspring place on money 
is quite reasonable. As a young adult, you are cast from the family 
womb without an apartment or a job or much of a bank account to 
sustain you. One important goal of young adulthood is to establish 
financial independence. Plus, society has another timetable in store for 
you. Aspiring professionals expect to graduate from college, get a job, 
get married, buy a house, and have kids. 

And after 「have kids」? Raise kids. Pay the bills. Save for college 
tuition. After that, your kids can do the same thing all over again: live 
your life, that is. 

It』s all very predictable. It』s also unrealistic. 

Every individual has to make his or her own way in the world. There』s 
no cookie-cutter formula that works for everyone. Behind every successful 
careerist is a process of self-discovery and a journey down a 
personally meaningful road, not a simple prescription for happiness 
that didn』t work then and doesn』t work now. 

Take a Personal Career Interest Survey 

Most people don』t know enough about all their available options to 
make informed career decisions. To remedy that deficit, you』ll need to 
do some market research: 

1. Start by making a general list of your personal and professional 
interests. Don』t omit any options because of preconceived 
notions about a field or industry. 
2. Write down your number one interest and then consider it carefully. 
What is it about that area that most fascinates you? For 

CAREER CHOICE :^) 

example, a woman who loves cooking realized she』s particularly 
drawn to desserts because they appeal to both her sense of 
artistry and her sweet tooth. 

3. Explore your interest more deeply, by researching the following: 
■ Companies that produce related products or services 
■ Schools that teach related skills 
■ Types of jobs related to your interest 
■ Names of specific people who work in the field 
4. Set up an action plan—complete with realistic goals and 
timetables—to meet (or at least talk on the phone with) people 
who work in your targeted interest area. In your discussions, try 
to learn as much as possible about what these professionals are 
doing. Also ask for referrals to people working in related fields. 
After each meeting, take careful notes to consolidate your learning; 
then set new exploration goals. 
5. When you』ve completed your research, listen to your gut. Does 
pursuing your targeted field still seem to be an exciting idea? If 
so, figure out what steps you』ll have to take to become a qualified 
candidate in that field. 
6. If your answer is a more cautious 「maybe,」 determine what else 
you need to know to make an informed career decision. Then, 
make it your goal to get that data. 
7. If you decide that your top interest doesn』t translate into viable 
career options, return to your list to determine your second, 
third, and even fourth choices. Then repeat the exploratory 
process until you find a promising direction. 
8. If you』re still undecided after several rounds of this process, think 
more creatively about ways to combine your interests. The 
prospective pastry chef, for example, had a seemingly conflicting 
interest in weight management. By tying together her two interests, 
she developed a specialty in low-fat desserts. 

:^) CHAPTER 1 

If you』re like many people, you might discover a latent desire to paint 
or write or act. You might want to build something beautiful, make a 
different contribution to our world, or perhaps leave an inspirational 
legacy. Let your imagination roam wild. You might be surprised at 
what you discover. 

Many people who do this exercise find that they want to add something 
of value to the world. One wanted to build a golf course in the 
inner city. Another wanted to create a foundation to promote good 
works. 

Others go for adventure and travel. In their imaginations, they became 
tour guides to the Orient, Middle East, or Africa. Or, combining 
adventure and service, they consider becoming a missionary in Peru, a 
public-health nurse in West Africa, or a teacher in Bosnia. 

Freedom ranked high on the list of desires. Very few people expressed 
a desire to work for someone else, although many were interested in 
public service. Almost no one continued in the same line of work. 
Muriel and John James, the mother-son team who wrote Passion For 
Life (1991, Penguin Books), call these desires 「a hunger of the soul 
searching for more.」 

However liberating it would be, most of us will never clean up in the 
lottery. Still, I wonder if it』s really necessary, financial considerations 
notwithstanding, to live so far from the heart of your desires; to put 
moneymaking above all other needs and goals; to abandon the things 
you love and care about to make a living. 

Hearkening back to Cheryl Heisler』s story, her experimentation with 
a variety of work roles and her willingness to learn from each experience 
enabled her to make a unique and meaningful career choice. To 
do the same, you might have to move beyond the things your parents 
wanted for you (and needed from you). 

Self-knowledge can be elusive. But more than any objective inventory 
of skills and interests, the ability to learn from experience is the key to 


CAREER CHOICE :^) 

self-knowledge. Putting a modern-day spin on Plato』s famous statement 
「The unexamined life is not worth living,」 management theorist 
Warren Bennis says, 「The unexamined life is impossible to live successfully.」 


Perhaps it』s time to stop measuring success by external standards 
of performance and start measuring it in more qualitative terms— 
specifically, by your level of satisfaction and fulfillment. Time』s 
a-wastin』. So why not use it wisely? Take some chances on your own 
happiness. It might almost make you feel like a kid again. 

(continues) 
21 
Career Choice: What Do You Want to Be... 
Now That You』re Grown Up? 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. Do you remember having a first career dream? If so, what 
was it? 
2. How did your parents respond to your dream? 
3. How did you feel about your parents』 response? 
4. Did your parents have a career ambition for you? If so, what 
was it? 

:^) 
CHAPTER 1 

(continued) 

5. How did you feel about your parents』 career dream for you? 
6. Do you feel that your parents』 career guidance was based on a 
good understanding of your skills and interests? 
7. Do you feel that your parents』 career guidance was based on a 
good understanding of the job market? 
8. Did your parents have careers? If so, what were they? 
9. If your parents had careers, do you feel that they were satisfied 
with their own choices? 
10. 
Can you identify any way in which your parents』 career 
choices influenced the choices they encouraged you to 
make? 
11. 
If your parents were raised during the Depression, do you think 
that experience influenced their career advice to you? If so, 
how? 

CAREER CHOICE :^) 

12. 
Did you follow your parents』 career recommendation? Why or 
why not? 
13. If you followed your parents』 recommendation, how do you 
feel about your choice now? 
14. If you could make your career choice all over again, what would 
you do differently? 

CHAPTER 2 


Do You Know the Secrets of 
Career Success? 

Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first 
overcome. 

—Samuel Johnson 

T
T
imes change. People change. Technology 
progresses and challenges everyone to 
adapt to new ways of living and working. 

Suddenly, the phrase 「24/7」 has entered the collective psyche. Like 
convenience grocery stores, everyone is suddenly 「on-call.」 The corrugated 
carton salesman carries a pager. Employees interrupt their personal 
therapy sessions to respond to phone calls from the office. The 
woman standing in front of you at Starbucks holds up the line while 
she converses with her secretary and her nanny. Your date takes an 
order from his customer on his cell phone while you peruse the wine 
list. Even on vacation, you can』t help but overhear other people』s business 
or escape gluing yourself to your laptop computer lest you miss 
some urgent communication. 

Yes, the world has gone crazy. In the blink of a workplace eyelash, 
the Internet economy mushroomed exponentially and then crashed. 
Everywhere we looked there were new young multimillionaires. Blink 
twice and you』re looking at a whole new generation of cynics and 
paupers. 

One day the economy is growing; and seemingly overnight the experts 
are predicting (and hunkering down for) a recession. Blink again and 


:^) CHAPTER 2 

the United States has gone to war. Patriotism is the new American religion; 
firefighters, the new American heroes. 

Everywhere you go, you are bombarded with new information and 
developments. As things continue to spin out of control, it can be so 
hard to feel like you are still the captain of your own ship, the master 
of your own fate. 

The Gold Rush mentality that ushered in the 「dot-com」 economy left 
many people hungering to make their first million by the age of 25 and 
then retire to a life of fun and play. So, why didn』t Bill Gates, the billionaire 
founder of Microsoft, retire along with them? We can only 
assume that he is in the game for more than money. The truth is that 
Gates likes the game. He likes to challenge himself and his people to 
change the world. One of the most amazing things this 「Pope of PC」 
ever said is that he believes 「Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart 
people into thinking they can』t lose.」 

This chapter is a reminder that, no matter how much the world 
changes (and your life changes with it), there are still some timeless 
truths about what it takes to be successful: truths that make as much 
sense today as they did 100 years ago. 

Rule 1: Motivation Is the Key to 
Success 

「It』s not that I』m so smart, it』s just that I stay with problems longer.」 

—Albert Einstein 

Knowing your own motivational triggers is an important key to 
developing and sustaining a successful career. Some people are motivated 
to make a lot of money. I remember working, for example, with 
a stockbroker who was discontent with his $200,000-a-year income. 
To him, the dollars represented a scorecard. A man who made 「only」 
$200,000 a year in financial services did not—in his estimation— 
qualify as an unmitigated success. To be truly successful, he wanted 
and needed to take more risks, which is why he ultimately ended up 


DO YOU KNOW THE SECRETS OF CAREER SUCCESS? :^) 

in the venture-capital business. To achieve that goal, however, he 
needed to have more confidence in his own abilities and judgment and 
more determination to pursue a riskier career path. Because he had a 
family (and a somewhat extravagant lifestyle) to support, he needed to 
do some real soul-searching before he cavalierly put that lifestyle at 
risk. 

What he learned about himself from our counseling conversations is 
that he would never, ever jeopardize his family』s financial well-being. 
He would do everything in his power to ensure their financial security, 
including minimizing some of the risks he might otherwise take if 
he did not have a wife and a family to support. His motivation to 
make more money without putting his family at risk were dual motivating 
factors for him, which helped him make prudent investment 
decisions based on a solid appreciation of his own 「risk tolerance.」 

The Motivation of Money 

Money is often an important motivating factor. But money doesn』t 
mean the same thing to everyone, nor does everyone have the same 
financial needs. For some people, money represents success. Others 
view it as a form of security. It can also provide a measure of autonomy, 
independence, and peace of mind. Or it can be a burden. For 
Claudia (the doctor who wanted to be a singer, who we discussed in 
chapter 1), the pursuit of money as a symbol of success was actually 
demotivating. Had she known herself better—and had the courage to 
stand up to her father—she would have chosen a career that was more 
intellectually and artistically stimulating. Although she appreciated 
(and still appreciates) the 「value of a dollar,」 she is more motivated to 
earn her dollars in positions that do not involve direct service. She 
simply finds the caretaking tasks of medicine too draining. 

Know What Motivates You 

The key to understanding personal motivation is in knowing 
what energizes you—what kinds of activities, people, places, 
and situations are personally stimulating and fulfilling? For John, a 


:^) CHAPTER 2 

systems analyst, teamwork and a spirit of innovation are the keys to 
sustaining motivation. John has a tendency to change careers every 
three or four years because he outgrows his environment. When he 
begins to feel like he knows more than his boss and any of his colleagues 
or that the environment is resistant to change, he grows bored 
and needs to move on. After each job change, he finds himself reenergized 
by a new set of challenges and teammates. However, we have 
never been able to identify an environment that is socially and 
creatively stimulating enough to last longer. What John and I now 
understand about him is that he is not the kind of professional who is 
destined to start and end his career in a safe place. He likes his financial 
security. But his security does not depend on continuous employment 
with a single employer. His 「nest egg」 is something that he is 
building on his own, through dint of hard work and investment savvy. 

Sally is motivated by the need to make a contribution. She needs to 
feel like her work matters and makes a difference. This need convinced 
Sally to switch from banking to fundraising. Both professions 
involve a 「bottom-line」 mentality; however, Sally enjoys the challenge 
of using her ingenuity and people skills to raise funds for worthy causes. 
In banking, she often felt like a cog in the wheel of commerce, 
rather than a real contributor. 

Rule 2: Success Takes Hard Work 

「I』m blown away by your ability to show up.」 

That』s what Keanu Reeves』 character Conor O』Neill in the movie 
「Hard Ball」 tells his ballplayers when, despite enormous odds, they 
make their way to the championship game. Of course, Hollywood 
thrives on these kinds of uplifting fantasies. The power of a dream 
coupled with determination and hard work turns out to be their particular 
formula for success. 

Thomas Edison once remarked that 「a genius is a talented person who 
does his homework.」 He also wisely remarked that good fortune 


DO YOU KNOW THE SECRETS OF CAREER SUCCESS? :^) 

tends to favor the prepared. Henry Ford echoed that sentiment when 
he remarked, 「Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of 
success.」 

Any meteoric rise to success takes preparation and hard work. Bill 
Gates was a computer geek before he was catapulted into the world 
limelight. Michael Jordan was a hard-working and determined high 
school and college athlete before he became one of the greatest superstar 
athletes of all time. Yes, these are very rich men. They are also 
men who devoted themselves to their work, who were willing to work 
hard, and who are not afraid of setbacks and failures. They know that 
success depends on the ability to learn from mistakes, overcome challenges, 
and keep on keepin』 on. 

Ambition Alone Isn』t Enough 

It is not enough to be ambitious. The world is filled with ambition. 
But the path to success is littered with discarded dreams and disillusioned 
people who never achieved the recognition or success they felt 
they deserved. Is it because there』s isn』t enough room for everyone to 
be King or Queen of the Mountain? Or is it because people waste so 
much time and energy climbing the wrong mountain? 

It』s natural to want to be a success. And it can be gratifying to find 
yourself on the fast track. But the knowledge that you were promoted 
often in your career is seldom enough to sustain you over the long 
haul—especially when the express lanes to the top get clogged with 
competition. 

Sure, it would be great if you could just leapfrog over the people in 
front of you; if you could skip having to make investments of time, 
energy, and money in skill-and-credential-building and go straight to 
the rewards. As Jack Kerouac once said, though, 「Walking on water 
wasn』t built in a day.」 There』s a learning curve. Also, the lessons and 
skills you learn on the path to accomplishment might be every bit as 
rewarding as the end goal. 


:^) CHAPTER 2 

Celebrating Everyday Successes 

Indeed, it』s wiser to think in terms of 「everyday successes」 or little 
wins, rather than focus on some giant jackpot. Little wins eventually 
add up to big wins and are much more easily achievable. They include 
the satisfaction of resolving a customer dispute, gaining a new skill, 
writing a report, getting a good performance appraisal, improving on 
an existing ability, and learning to handle constructive criticism. These 
little victories can make the difference between a good day and a bad 
one. They are also the building blocks of a good reputation, the name 
you acquire for yourself through your work. 

Rule 3: Follow Your Dream 

Missions are the values or dreams that drive superachievers to pursue 
excellence. To fly higher than that, you also need to dig a little deeper. 
When clinical psychologist Charles Garfield first researched superachievers 
in business, he wanted to know what made them different. 
In his book Peak Performers, Garfield reveals the secret that enables 
these executives to achieve consistently impressive and satisfying 
results without burning out. Says Garfield: 「The bottom line for peak 
performers is that they went and pursued their dreams.」 Why? 
Because dreamers who are committed to making their visions come 
true often keep a close eye on anything and anyone that might interfere 
with their ability to bring the dream to life. Their intense ambition 
can make them incredibly pragmatic when it comes to achieving 
their goals. 

What』s in a Mission? 
If the notion of a 「mission」 at first sounds too religious or impracti-
cal, think again. For your work to be meaningful, you must have a 
vocational mission that reflects and expresses your spirituality. 
Like the urge of plants to grow toward sun and water, human beings 
have an overarching need for growth that』s expressed through a 

DO YOU KNOW THE SECRETS OF CAREER SUCCESS? :^) 

variety of spiritual urges. In Passion for Life (1991, Penguin Books), 
authors Muriel and John James outline a simple yet elegant framework 
that should help you determine whether spiritual components 
are missing from your work. Formulate your mission accordingly: 

■ 

The urge to live involves basic survival needs and more. It』s 
expressed through your desire to be as healthy as possible. 

■ 

The urge to be free—physically, emotionally, and intellectually—
is another fundamental force within the human spirit. 
But it takes courage to stand up for your freedom and live in 
accordance with your personal needs and beliefs. 

■ 

The urge to understand is also universal. It makes you 
search for knowledge that can give you greater control over 
your environment and your life. When you don』t understand 
the factors that affect your life, you tend to feel helpless and 
confused. 

■ 

The urge to create activates unique ways of thinking, being, 
and doing through goals that express your originality. If you 
lack creative outlets, you can become angry, indifferent, or 
unproductive. 

■ 

The urge to enjoy is as natural as the urge to live. It can push 
you to search for happiness and pleasure in everyday things. 
When you bring a playful spirit to your activities, what you do 
feels less important than how you do it. 

■ 

The urge to connect creates a genuine bond of caring with 
others. It』s one of the motivations behind a strong desire to 
serve. 

■ 

The urge to transcend is defined as the ability to reach up 
and out—to move beyond the ordinary limitations of human 
existence. It』s a fundamental component of nearly every religious 
system and many religious impulses. 


:^) CHAPTER 2 

At the heart of every peak performer, Garfield found a desire to excel 
at something the person truly cared about. In these achievers, economic 
self-interest combined with other, more spiritual values involving 
creativity and service. These values became leverage points for 
excellence. 

Mission-Driven Career Change 

A lot of mission-driven career changers emerged after the collapse of 
the World Trade Center on 9/11. In the face of so much individual 
heroism and tragedy, many ambitious and talented men and women 
suddenly felt compelled toward more meaningful work. For example, 
inquiries about joining the Peace Corps spiked 20 percent in the two 
months following the tragedy. Others switched from for-profit 
employers to nonprofit organizations in an effort to create more 
meaningful, service-oriented work lives. 

No generation has been more affected by this tragedy than people in 
their twenties and thirties. Suddenly Gen-Xers are being transformed 
into 「Generation 911」 in the same way baby boomers were affected 
by Vietnam and the generation before them was shaped by World War 
II and the Depression. This is what prompted 「Sam,」 a 29-year-old 
real-estate broker, to ditch his real-estate career to go back to school 
to become a social worker. This is also what prompted Katie, a college 
junior, to take a year off from her studies in order to do some volunteer 
work. And it』s what motivated Simon, a 25-year-old teacher, to 
become a police officer. 

These career-change stories are both heartwarming and surprisingly 
predictable. Tragedy often becomes the impetus for positive personal 
changes. Take, for example, John Walsh, the popular television host of 
「America』s Most Wanted.」 Walsh became a crusader for justice after 
his six-year-old son, Adam, was abducted and killed. Similarly, the 
inspiration for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) came from 
Candy Lightner when her teenage daughter, Cari, was killed by a 
drunk driver. 


DO YOU KNOW THE SECRETS OF CAREER SUCCESS? :^) 

Discovering Your Passion 

Sometimes, as an adult, it』s hard to discover a dream or a mission. 
Other times, the difficulty is in recognizing it when you』ve found it. To 
discover your passion, you must ask yourself what you place at the 
center of your life—what you personally find most fulfilling. Then, 
build your livelihood around that central interest or value. 

Rules for Creating a 「Burning-with-Passion」 Work Life 
1. Choose work you love. 
2. Commit to competence. 
3. Invest in training. 
4. Chart a course of action. 
5. Set goals. 
6. Cultivate a problem-solving mentality. 
7. Build and nurture support systems. 
8. Monitor your progress. 
9. Rechart your course when necessary to take advantage of new 
experiences and learning. 
10. Keep setting new goals—and keep on truckin』. 
Begin by looking at the position you currently hold. Are you happy 
where you are? Being discontented doesn』t necessarily indicate the 
need to change careers entirely. You might simply need to redirect 
your career toward more personally fulfilling goals. 

For example, a 40-year-old pharmacologist in Chicago had devoted 
20 years to academic research on psychogenic drugs. On the surface, 
if looked like he enjoyed a satisfying and challenging academic career. 
As the principal investigator on several research grants, he enjoyed 
senior status and had accumulated an impressive list of research 


:^) CHAPTER 2 

publications. Yet he actually viewed his projects as 「assembly-line 
research.」 

「After awhile I was just plugging new drugs into the same experimental 
design」 he explains. 「There was nothing new or challenging 
about it. It was boring.」 

Beating Career Boredom 

Boredom is an important symptom of career distress. Regardless of 
where you fit in the organizational hierarchy, it can mean that you are 
underemployed: You simply have more skills and abilities than your 
job requires. Boredom, in my experience, is one of the number-one 
reasons why adults change careers. It is an expression of unused 
potential. Eventually, the pharmacologist grew so frustrated with his 
situation that he quit. He gave himself a year of play to reconnect with 
the things he loved to do because he』d given up many of his 「fun」 
interests early in life to concentrate on earning a Ph.D. and building 
an academic career. In that year of leisure, he discovered that science 
was still his core interest. However, he needed to apply his skills in a 
broader and more personally meaningful context, perhaps in consumer 
research or education. 

His career story is a reminder that professional plateaus represent 
ideal opportunities to reexamine your needs and values and, if necessary, 
redirect your career into arenas that stimulate new growth. It is 
not enough to look backward; you might also need to look forward, 
to learn more about the options that are available to you, in order to 
discover your own personal career dream. 

Rule 4: Honor Your Talents 

When Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner conducted his landmark 
research on multiple intelligences, he opened the door to a fuller 
understanding of human potential. Gardner has become an advocate 
for educational reform and a pioneer in the research of human potential, 
criticizing our society』s traditional emphasis on verbal and 


DO YOU KNOW THE SECRETS OF CAREER SUCCESS? :^) 

analytical abilities as the pinnacle of intelligence. In their stead, he has 
put forth a more expanded vision that includes linguistic, musical, 
spatial, kinesthetic, emotional, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences. 
The more we, as individuals, are able to develop our many 
intelligences, the more capable and evolved we will become. 
Understanding yourself as a multifaceted individual with many talents 
and possibilities also enables you to expand your vision of your own 
career potential. 

Balancing Creative Urges with a Need for Income 

In another life, my friend Chel was a real-estate financier with verbal, 
mathematical, and interpersonal skills. She worked hard to acquire an 
MBA from a prestigious university and built a successful career in 
business. But what she really hungered to do was to develop her 
creativity—to write and to paint. After her kids were grown and she 
had moved in with her boyfriend, she had the opportunity to devote 
herself to developing those skills. Although she hopes to someday be 
able to support herself through her writing, she knows that there can 
be a long incubation period, and that writing is a skill and a talent that 
takes enormous amounts of time and commitment. It is not a process 
that can be rushed. 

At 25, Jeremy is at a crossroads in his life. He is a dedicated musician 
who writes songs and plays music with a band. He would like to make 
music a full-time career. But he hasn』t been able to make enough 
money. So, he works days as a customer-service representative. After 
five years in this entry-level position, he realizes that he needs to develop 
another talent if he wants any kind of satisfying day job. Because 
he is good with his hands, loves to build and fix things, and enjoys 
computers, he decided to educate himself to become a software engineer. 
By developing several of his different 「intelligences,」 Jeremy has 
been able to piece together a life that includes a successful day job and 
a passion for making music. 


:^) CHAPTER 2 

Develop Your Full Potential 

Many ambitious people underestimate their own potential or fail to 
invest themselves fully in their own talents. When you commit yourself 
to developing your full potential, you will undoubtedly enjoy the 
career-building process more because you will not be focusing exclusively 
on external rewards. The process of growing and developing the 
range of your abilities can be inherently satisfying. It also affords you 
the opportunity to combine your talents in creatively interesting ways 
that enable you to create a unique career path for yourself. 

No one is better at this than my brother—the poet, Edward Hirsch. 
As a successful poet, Eddie has obviously developed his love of language 
and his linguistic abilities to their fullest potential. But there is 
another side to him that accounts equally for his enormous success. 
He excels in what Gardner calls the 「personal intelligences.」 
According to Gardner, there are two personal intelligences. The first 
one is intrapersonal. It involves self-knowledge, particularly the 
knowledge and management of your own emotions. Reading my 
brother』s poetry, I can』t help but notice how well he describes and captures 
complex feelings and emotional states. The second personal 
intelligence is interpersonal intelligence. This is my brother』s second 
enormous gift. He is an inspiring and charismatic teacher whose students 
would gladly follow him to the proverbial 「far ends of the 
earth.」 He invests himself wholeheartedly in developing their intellectual 
and artistic talents and is known for his enormous generosity to 
other writers. Not only has he developed these talents fully, he also is 
one of the most passionate, committed, and hardworking men I have 
ever met. He is living proof that talent, passion, and a lot of hard work 
can create the miracle of genius. 

Rule 5: Manage Yourself 

There』s no direct correlation between success and mental health. We 
all know that you can be an 「S.O.B.」 and still be successful. You can 
win the rat race and still be a rat. But if you manage yourself well, you 
can also win the rat race without turning into a rat. This involves 


DO YOU KNOW THE SECRETS OF CAREER SUCCESS? :^) 

developing a good working relationship among your thoughts, feelings, 
and actions. In the 「real world」 of work, you don』t get punished 
for having bad thoughts. You can think the meanest, nastiest things in 
the world as long as you don』t lose your temper and act on them. 
Anger, like all strong feelings, must be managed productively. 

Standing Up for Yourself 

「Selene」 prizes the fact that she is a team player. She is also a 50-yearold 
woman who has worked very hard to achieve success in the male-
dominated world of engineering. She values her ability to be a leader 
and to mentor the people on her team so that they develop their talents. 
What comes harder to her is the ability to assert herself and her 
authority. She』s been known to crumble in the face of direct competition. 


Selene learned how to mend the error of her ways when one of her 
much younger colleagues began shamelessly stealing her work. First, 
this young woman erased Selene』s name from a report and then distributed 
the report under her own name. She tried to convince her 
boss to kick Selene off an international committee so that she could 
participate instead…etc., etc., etc. 

Selene』s first impulse was to wring this young woman』s neck. Her second 
impulse was to cry. And her third impulse was to bury her head 
in shame. Fortunately, her next impulse was to call her career counselor 
so that she could work through her feelings and develop an effective 
career strategy. 

For Selene this involved some therapeutic work. She needed to revisit 
some bad advice that she received as a child from her parents 「not to 
make waves」 or 「make other people mad.」 After revisiting how that 
made her feel as a child, I suggested (perhaps not as gently as I might 
have) that this was definitely not a good strategy for success in corporate 
America. When someone steals your work, you have to defend 
yourself. There are times in life when you have to make waves, and 
you will make people mad. Building a successful career is not a love-
in. The goal is not to make everyone love you. It can take courage not 


:^) CHAPTER 2 

to back down in the face of a threat. As Eleanor Roosevelt once 
astutely commented, 「You gain strength, courage, and confidence by 
every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.」 
Roosevelt also believed that you need to 「do what you feel in your 
heart to be right—for you』ll be criticized anyway. You』ll be damned if 
you do and damned if you don』t.」 

What Selene needed was permission to fight back. Once she felt comfortable 
with her right to assert herself, she prepared a memorandum 
to this woman』s manager detailing her indiscretions and why those 
actions were inappropriate and wrong, scheduled a meeting with the 
young woman』s manager, and elicited his promise to monitor his 
employee』s actions more closely. Comfortable that she had defended 
her rights and territory, Selene was able to return to her work with 
greater peace of mind and more confidence in her ability to succeed in 
the face of threats. 

Controlling and Using Your Emotions 

The flip side of anger is depression and passivity. From a psychological 
perspective, depression is a disease of helplessness. It is transacted 
within the context of powerlessness and pessimists. Although pessimists 
might be more 「realistic,」 optimists tend to be more successful 
and have more fun. 

This is not to imply that you need to 「put on a happy face」 or paste 
smiley faces all over your workspace. Nor do you need to engage in 
na.ve self-affirmations (such as 「I』m getting better and better every 
day, in every way」). However, if you have depressive tendencies, you 
do need to monitor your self-talk to guard against convincing yourself 
that any and all effort is basically hopeless. A positive attitude, along 
with the resilience to rebound from setbacks, is an important predictor 
of ultimate success or failure. As Henry Ford once commented, 
「Whether you think you can or think you can』t—you are right.」 

Your feelings can be your ally or your enemy. You must learn to use 
them to create and accomplish meaningful goals, rather than engage 


DO YOU KNOW THE SECRETS OF CAREER SUCCESS? :^) 

in self-sabotage. Between feeling and productive action lies rational 
thought. Before acting spontaneously on negative feelings, take some 
time to calm down and then develop and implement an effective 
course of action. 

Rule 6: Take Calculated Risks 

We are often raised with rules, admonitions, and the consequences of 
disobedience. Look both ways before you cross the street. (You could 
get hit by a car.) Don』t talk to strangers. (You might get kidnapped or 
worse.) Don』t eat unwrapped candy at Halloween. (You might get poisoned.) 
Wear your hat and boots and gloves in the cold. (So you won』t 
catch pneumonia.) Don』t run too fast. (You might fall.) 

Good, sound advice from concerned and responsible parents who 
want their kids to be protected from danger. Good rules to remember 
and pass along to your own kids. But when those rules and regs translate 
into a more global message that it』s dangerous to take any risks at 
all, you also end up limiting your rewards. 

No Risk, No Reward 

When it comes to building a career in the competitive work world, 
you have to be willing to take risks in order to reap the rewards you 
seek. You also have to know how to differentiate real danger from 
fantasy. Not every stranger is dangerous. Nor is every job change or 
career change a high-wire act. Information is key. You can arm yourself 
with knowledge. 

John was a senior VP with a prestigious accounting firm. After nearly 
two decades in the business, he was passed over for partnership and 
told that he didn』t have the 「personality」 or 「presence」 to be a partner. 
What they meant was that John was a highly competent professional 
who could be trusted to do the work he was given. But he 
was also a very anxious and insecure man who was afraid to assert 
himself. The partners in his firm were all 「rainmakers.」 They thrived 
on the challenge of bringing in new business. John was a people 


:^) CHAPTER 2 

pleaser. He tried to make people happy, to adapt to their needs, and 
to avoid confrontation. Everybody liked him and even respected him. 
The senior partners in his firm just didn』t think he had the 「chutzpah」 
(guts) to succeed at the top. John perceived this as a shortcoming and 
agreed with them. He wasn』t aggressive enough for the role. 

What John really wanted to do was get out of corporate America altogether 
and start a small retail business. He had the skill set to do that. 
Because he was amiable and friendly, he also had some of the personality 
traits. What he didn』t have was the confidence or the courage to 
take the financial risk. Despite his ambition, he was never able to 
achieve any real career satisfaction because he was too afraid to take 
any real emotional or financial risks. If not for this fatal flaw, he 
would have been content to buy a retail franchise operation and live 
out his dream of owning his own business. Ironically, he had the business 
acumen and skills to know how to evaluate different franchise 
opportunities and make sound investment decisions. But his enormous 
fear and self-doubt held him back. 

Know Your Risk Tolerance 

One key to successful risk-taking is to know your risk tolerance. To 
do that you must be able to evaluate the potential consequences of 
your decisions and be able to live with the worst-case scenario. What 
many otherwise ambitious careerists fail to realize is that not taking a 
risk is also a risk. There is a risk involved in not trying. There is risk 
involved in not changing. Along with the risk of failing, there is also 
the risk of regret. 

Archimedes believed that you need only two things to move the world: 
a lever and a place to stand. Your lever is yourself: the sum total of 
your personality, talents, interests, and values. Vocationally speaking, 
your place to stand is wherever you decide to plant your feet in the 
world of work—whether it be in the courtroom, in the laboratory, in 
a classroom, on stage, or in front of the computer. It is the place where 
you feel comfortable enough to practice your craft, exercise your skill, 
or demonstrate your leadership. 


DO YOU KNOW THE SECRETS OF CAREER SUCCESS? :^) 

(continues) 
41 
Do You Know the Secrets of Career Success? 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. How do you define success? 
2. Do you think success (as you define it) will make you happy? 
3. How important is money to your career success? 
4. How much money do you need to be happy? 
5. How long will it take you to make that much money? 
6. Does your definition of success include promotions and 
upward mobility? If so, how hard will you have to work to make 
that kind of progress? 
7. Do you enjoy the work you do? Why or why not? 

:^) CHAPTER 2 

(continued) 

8. 
Would it be easier to put in the kind of hours success required 
if you liked your work more? 
9. Do you consider your work meaningful? Why or why not? 
10. Is doing meaningful work important to you? 
11. If you considered your work more meaningful, do you think you 
might be more successful? 
12. Would you like to make a career change in order to pursue 
more interesting or meaningful work? 
13. If so, do you know what area you』d switch to? 
14. What are your obstacles to making a career transition? 

15. 
Is there any way to transfer some of your current skills and 
experiences to a new field so that you won』t have to take a 
huge pay cut? 

DO YOU KNOW THE SECRETS OF CAREER SUCCESS? :^) 

16. 
Do you consider more schooling an investment in your future? 
Or a waste of good money? 
17. Is there any degree or training you』d find enjoyable that would 
also enhance your employability? What is it? 
18. Do you participate in any community or volunteer activities that 
are particularly fulfilling? What are they? 
19. Do you have any hobbies you feel passionate about? What are 
they? 
20. Do your extracurricular activities provide any clues as to possible 
vocational choices? 
(continues) 


:^) CHAPTER 2 

(continued) 

21. 
Do you believe that career satisfaction and success are polar 
opposites—that more satisfying work comes with a vow of 
poverty? If so, where did you get that idea? 
22. Do you know any people who make a lot of money and love 
their jobs, too? 
23. What do they have that you don』t? 
24. Do you know what kind of work would make you happy? If so, 
is there a good reason why you aren』t pursuing it? 
25. If you don』t know what kind of work would make you happy, do 
you know how to figure that out? 
26. Have you ever worked with a career counselor to assist you 
with this decision? 

DO YOU KNOW THE SECRETS OF CAREER SUCCESS? :^) 

27. How committed are you to your own career happiness? 
28. Do you believe that success and satisfaction can go together? 
29. If you answered 「no」 to the preceding question, have you ever 
tried to integrate the two? 


CHAPTER 3 


Fail(ure) Is Not a Four-Letter 
Word 

Aim high enough and you can always fall on your face. 

—Laurence Shames, The Hunger for More 

When, oh when, will we learn to honor error? To understand that goofs are 
the only way to step forward, that really big goofs are the only way to leap 
forward? 

—Tom Peters, The Pursuit of Wow! 

F
F
or decades, I kept having the same dream: 
It was the day of the final exam. I』d never 
been to class before. I couldn』t find the 

room and was totally unprepared for the test. 

Maureen Gold, the director of Baxter Healthcare Corporation』s career 
center in Deerfield, Illinois, admits to having her own version of this 
almost-universal nightmare about performance and competence. 
「Final exams are checkpoints where some authority passes judgment 
on your work,」 says Gold. 「They』re a rite of passage. You can』t make 
it to the next step until someone tells you you』re OK.」 

As an adult, you might discover that your work life is putting a new 
spin on some age-old fears. When Chicago writer Judy Markey informally 
polled a diverse group of professionals about their current 
career nightmares, she discovered that many competent people share 
an anxious underside. 


:^) CHAPTER 3 

Take, for example, the teacher who dreams she』s walked into a classroom 
of unruly students and doesn』t have a single skill to calm down 
her wild charges. Or the builder who dreams he』s grabbed the wrong 
set of blueprints and built the wrong shelving and cabinets in someone』s 
home. Then there』s the accountant whose nightmare revolves 
around omitting some numbers on a tax form, being discovered by the 
IRS, and losing most of his clients. And how about the pastor who, in 
his nighttime angst, walks up to the pulpit in a church packed with 
worshippers, only to discover that he has nothing to say? No sermon. 
No words of inspiration. No tidbits of wisdom. Nothing. 

This last nightmare is similar to another archetypal fear-of-exposure 
dream: the one where you』re standing naked and exposed before an 
audience you want desperately to impress. This is probably why a 
pianist sometimes dreamed she was sitting on stage before a concert 
stark naked. Or why, on the night before he was expected to deliver 
an important paper, a doctor dreamed he was at the lectern with no 
clothes on and his mouth glued shut. 

These nighttime dramas reveal, in all their angst-ridden glory, the 
imperfections that most of us take elaborate precautions to hide. 
While the rest of the world imagines you』re firmly in control of your 
destiny, your dreams remind you how fallible you really are. 
Fortunately, these nightmares seldom prove real. Despite the castle of 
catastrophe you might insist on building in your head, no awful mistake 
is waiting to rear its ugly head and ambush your career ambitions 
when you least expect it. Granted, horror stories do happen. But most 
mistakes are recoverable. However embarrassing, life goes on, and so 
will you. 

Look at Bill Clinton. He was almost driven from the Oval Office in 
total disgrace because of his sordid sexual affair with a White House 
intern (whose name will live in infamy). Fast-forward a few years and 
he is still a popular, much-sought-after public speaker who will 
undoubtedly have his own television show one day. 


FAIL(URE) IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD :^) 

Former television newscaster Mary Nissenson Scheer, who worked for 
NBC News in New York, remembers sharing a particularly embarrassing 
moment with millions of television viewers. She was pinch-
hitting for one of the regular news anchors, who was out sick for the 
day. It was her first time on national television and her first experience 
with a teleprompter. While a Freudian interpretation is tempting, 
nervousness and inexperience are probably what account for 
Nissenson Scheer』s gaffe. At least let』s hope that』s what caused her to 
refer to Jimmy Carter』s 「peanut farm」 as a 「penis farm,」 instead. 

She can laugh about the incident now, but it wasn』t exactly the national 
television debut she was hoping for. Still, it didn』t turn out to be a 
career-stopper. Surviving the relentless ribbing that trailed her for 
months was probably the more difficult task. On the bright side, an 
incident like that can teach you to develop a sense of humor about 
yourself—pronto! 

In our achievement-obsessed society, success and failure are often 
viewed as opposites. Actually, though, they』re part of a continuum. 
Risk is implied in striving. Every time you make the effort to succeed, 
you run the risk of failing. 

The Thrill of Defeat? 

Glen Hiner, the CEO of Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation, a $3 
billion Toledo-based company, believes in 「celebrating」 failure rather 
than maligning it. This isn』t an exercise in corporate masochism; it』s 
simply a recognition that the painful lessons learned from failure can 
pave the way to greater success. That』s why Hiner immediately took 
an $800 million tax write-off on an asbestos litigation case after taking 
over the helm at Owens-Corning in 1992. He recognized that past 
failures were holding back his management team from trying new 
things. He wanted them to put the failure behind them rather than 
continue to dwell on its consequences. 

The head of Nomura Securities, one of Japan』s wealthiest companies, 
shares Hiner』s positive outlook on failure. Although it might sound 


:^) CHAPTER 3 

strange, he』s concerned that Nomura hasn』t had enough failures. 
Why? He believes that failures force you to develop new ways of 
thinking and doing things, whereas success, on the other hand, can 
make you complacent. Instead of looking at and experimenting with 
new ideas, it encourages you to take the easy way out by endlessly trying 
to duplicate your past victories. 

The professors who run the Harvard MBA program agree with this 
perspective. That』s why their students study failed companies. The 
experts at this prestigious graduate school know you can learn a lot 
by understanding where other people went wrong. They say copying 
someone else』s formula for success is unlikely to yield as great a payoff 
because the competition has already captured the market. 

Review the life story of any highly accomplished individual and you』ll 
almost always find a history of failures and recoveries. Usually, the 
person is someone who was determined to succeed against the odds. 
Abraham Lincoln is my favorite example of this determination. 
「Honest Abe』s」 public report card reads like the record of an 「F」 student. 
Born into poverty, he failed in business twice, lost eight elections, 
and suffered a nervous breakdown before becoming one of this country』s 
greatest presidents. 

Why did he persist? 

「A duty to strive is the duty of us all,」 Lincoln said. 「I felt a call to 
that duty.」 

In chapter 2, I talked about why having a dream, a sense of mission, 
or a calling is so important for success. Having a greater goal helps 
you cope with failures, too, by allowing you to place individual setbacks 
into a larger context. When you believe that your goals are truly 
worth pursuing, you』ll have the desire and momentum to keep going, 
rather than cave in, in the face of obstacles. 

For example, it took my brother Edward Hirsch 10 years to get his 
first book of poetry in print with a major publisher. Then, its very first 
week on the shelves, the book was trashed by a reviewer on the front 


FAIL(URE) IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD :^) 

page of the New York Times Book Review. This beginning was 
ominous; but in some ways, it was fortuitous. Having survived a 
treacherous review early on, Hirsch now is much less afraid of what 
reviewers will say about his work. Although he still (obviously) prefers 
praise, he also knows that he can survive the criticism. That 「failure」 
taught him another important lesson: compassion. He』s well-known 
among his writing colleagues for his generosity toward their 
work. Even when he criticizes them publicly, he never does so in a 
mean-spirited way. 

Common Causes of Career Failure 

Failure can be a genuine springboard to success if you allow yourself 
to learn the lessons it has to teach. You can begin that process by 
understanding some of the more common reasons failures occur and 
by learning from the experience of others who have used their defeats 
to grow and succeed. 

Politics 

Every successful career is a competitive struggle. Women who hope to 
break down barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields need a 
very tough skin and a willingness to engage in power politics. When 
sportscaster Pam Ward was still struggling for acceptance in 「the business,」 
an agent asked her to send him a tape. After the agent watched 
her tape, he declined to represent her. 「He said, 『Look, you are really 
good, but cosmetically, you』re not there.』」 

She swore that she would prove him wrong. And eventually she did, 
recently becoming the first woman to do play-by-play for a college 
football game. Although it took Ward 10 years to land her first 
national network job, she persevered through early failures to become 
an anchor at ESPN. 

「I can』t tell you how many people told me I would never make it,」 
Ward says. But she was determined to 「find the door and kick it in.」 


:^) CHAPTER 3 

Many of her colleagues were initially uncomfortable with her; now 
many have grown to respect her energy, ambition, and skill. After all, 
this is a woman who spent her youth imitating Pat Summerall and 
dreaming of becoming the first woman to announce for the NFL. This 
is not to say that Pam Ward doesn』t have her detractors. Many viewers 
are still not completely comfortable with a woman sportscaster. 
Her deep voice and in-your-face style can get on their nerves. And her 
performances are, undoubtedly, held up to a greater level of scrutiny 
than the male reporters』 are. But, in the final analysis, she will surely 
turn out to be one of those pioneering women who refused to buy into 
the notion that football is a man』s birthright or that men are born with 
some innate knowledge of the game that women cannot acquire. She 
will also disprove the theory that, as a woman, you have to be a former 
Miss America to be a successful sportscaster. And that—politics 
notwithstanding—competent women can, indeed, succeed in a man』s 
world. But it takes a very resilient woman such as Pam Ward to 
bounce back from the kind of rejections and failures she often encountered 
en route to success. 

The Wrong Job 

In many cases, poor performance (and sometimes termination) results 
from a mismatch between an individual and the job he or she is 
expected to do. Although it』s easy to fall into the trap of berating 
yourself or blaming your employer for the trouble, you need to examine 
its root causes. 

Consider a transportation manager whose career derailed when she 
joined forces with her company』s Midwest operations. In reviewing 
the circumstances that led to her discharge, the manager realized that 
the position she held hadn』t allowed her to capitalize on her strengths 
in opening up and developing new markets because the territory she 
took over was well established. 

To correct her course and chart a new direction, she decided to carefully 
target jobs at companies where she』d be responsible for the 
development of new territories. Approaching age 50, she knows she 


FAIL(URE) IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD :^) 

can』t afford to make another such mistake. By targeting roles that will 
let her play to her strengths, she hopes to be able to shine more in her 
next position. It will take some inner fortitude, though, to keep herself 
from taking another inappropriate position out of financial desperation. 
If she fails to heed the lesson she』s learned too well, she 
might doom herself to repeat the mistakes of the past. Let』s hope not. 
Facing this same dilemma again at age 55 or 60 is certainly not the 
future she desires for herself. 

「Accidental careerists」 (people who fell into rather than chose their 
professions) are most vulnerable to this kind of career failure. If you 
fit this profile, you might discover that your career path is more a 
reflection of who wanted you than what you wanted to do. As a 
result, you can end up plagued by a halfhearted commitment that 
makes you lazy and unmotivated. What you really need is a dream 
and a goal of your own. 

A property manager for a complex of apartment buildings lost three 
jobs in as many years. The problem: her lethargic attitude, which 
translated into mediocre customer service, poor service contracts (she 
was too 「lazy」 to negotiate harder), and an unmotivated support staff 
(they took their cues from her 「leadership」 style). To get off that 
treadmill of mediocrity, she needed to identify and pursue more stimulating 
and meaningful work. In her sessions with a career counselor, 
she realized that she needed a more 「intellectual」 profession. Because 
teaching and academia appealed most to her, she took the initiative to 
go to graduate school for a Ph.D. in English literature. She hopes to 
become a university professor—a career plan that』s likely to keep her 
self-motivated for years to come. 

Boss Trouble 

A marketing manager who has the bad habit of getting fired every 
nine months because of personality conflicts with her bosses needs to 
figure out what』s happening before she destroys her entire career. After 
three premature terminations, she』s already having trouble finding 


:^) CHAPTER 3 

new employers who are willing to hire her. They see her job-hopping 
history as a giant red flag. 

Although it』s easy to blame your difficulties on all those stupid, incompetent 
executives, not every boss is a stupid, bumbling fool just 
because he or she can』t get along with you. However painful it might 
be for you to acknowledge the problem, you aren』t doing yourself any 
favors by exonerating yourself from blame. In fact, when you shift 
total responsibility for your career problem to 「them,」 you create 
additional problems for yourself. The truth is, you』ll gain more control 
by owning up to whatever portion of the problem really does 
belong to you. 

Troubling, repetitive patterns in your work history should send up a 
personal red flag, indicating that you have a problem that needs fixing. 
If the problem centers around 「bosses」 or authority issues, you 
might be staring at some unresolved childhood conflict you have with 
less-than-perfect parents. Self-employment can help solve the problem. 
If you』re not the entrepreneurial type, however, you』ll need another 
solution. Professional counseling is usually the best answer. But if you 
can』t afford or are afraid of it, you can start tackling the issues on your 
own by developing insight into your motivations and behaviors. 

Writing teacher Gerissa French in Chicago believes you can achieve 
better self-understanding through a technique she calls 「Discovery 
Write.」 Here』s how this exercise works: 

1. Make a list of all the bad bosses you』ve ever had. 
2. Below each name, write down any symbols, objects, or phrases 
you associate with the person. 
3. Put a plus or minus sign next to each symbol, object, or phrase 
to symbolize whether you think positively or negatively about it. 
4. Count up the minus signs. The person with the most blemishes 
will be your writing subject. 
5. Write a character sketch or story about that person. Make it as 
negative as you want. Write down everything you hate, fear, and 

FAIL(URE) IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD :^) 

would like to change about that person. Don』t hold anything 
back. (The key here is not to edit your thoughts and feelings.) 

6. Put your story away for a day or two. After you』ve let it settle a 
while, review what you wrote. How does it look after you』ve 
vented your feelings? How true do you think your feelings are to 
the reality of that person? 
7. Now, go to the person on your list with the second most minus 
signs and complete the same exercise. 
8. Compare the first story to the second. Are there any similarities? 
Think about the two people you』re investing with so much negative 
energy. How similar are they? How different? Are you sure? 
(If someone you know and trust knows both your subjects, you 
might want to ask them to review your story. Do their perceptions 
match up with yours? Or are your fantasies out of control?) 
9. Think about the traits that really trigger your hostilities and drive 
you crazy. Are they similar to those of any of your family members? 
If so, you』ve found the link between your bosses and your 
childhood history, an important first step toward resolving the 
conflict. 
You can also do this exercise in reverse. Start with a family member 
who has a lot of minuses in your book and write a story or character 
sketch of that person. After expressing your unedited feelings and perceptions, 
you should be better able to figure out how your childhood 
conflicts might be playing out in your work life with bosses. 

French experienced a personal epiphany regarding a family member 
who』d been inculcated with the message that he was an 「ugly duckling.」 
To compensate for that diminished status, her relative often 
「strutted his stuff」—behaving more like a bantam rooster than an 
ugly duckling. To this day, French has a love-hate relationship with 
rooster-type men. 

What does all this have to do with your career? By knowing what kind 
of people and behaviors trigger your emotional vulnerabilities, you 


:^) CHAPTER 3 

can steer clear of those types altogether. Or you can take measures to 
ensure that your working relationships with such individuals develop 
along the lines of healthy professionalism, not as reruns of some well-
worn emotional tapes from your childhood. 

Wrong Employer 

Some people are simply better suited to self-employment than to 
working for a company. Figuring out that there』s an entrepreneur lurking 
in your soul can be the solution to a long string of unhappy jobs. 

Hollywood movie producer David Brown, whose credits include such 
blockbusters as Jaws and Cocoon, considers himself an expert on the 
subject of failure. Brown was fired from four jobs (including two top 
posts at 20th Century Fox) before figuring out that he』s too much of 
a risk-taker for conventional corporate life. Once he came to that realization, 
he formed his own production company, where he』s free to be 
as creative and daring as he chooses. But it took four failed tries as a 
「wage slave」 to figure out that he couldn』t find the solution to his 
employment problems in corporate America. 

Of course, he』ll never repeat that same employment mistake if he can 
help it. As former baseball catcher and sportscaster Joe Garagiola 
says: 「Experience is mistakes you won』t make anymore.」 

Too Much Self-Confidence 

Harry Truman once said, 「The only things worth learning are the 
things you learn after you know it all.」 

Success can be a powerful aphrodisiac, especially when accompanied 
by money, fame, and power. It can lure you into thinking you』re 
omnipotent: that nothing and no one can touch you. 

Witness the case of boxer Mike Tyson, who didn』t have the character 
or inner strength to handle his own success. Behold also the downfalls 
of Jim Bakker, Leona Helmsley, Michael Milken, and Ivan Boesky, all 
of whom have had the opportunity to contemplate the error of their 
ways from inside a jail cell. Prison time must have its pluses: Boesky 


FAIL(URE) IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD :^) 

found God and professes to want to be a rabbi; Tyson converted to 
Islam; Milken discovered the joys of public service and has been seen 
escorting poor kids to baseball games; Bakker has repented for his sins 
and wants his pulpit back to try again. Ms. Helmsley, on the other 
hand, seemed sorry most of all that she got caught. 

The Watergate folks also seemed to find religion in the wake of their 
downfall. Whether these religious conversions are real remains to be 
seen. 

Inexperience 

Because entrepreneurs take so many risks through uncharted territory, 
it』s not surprising that they experience a fair share of failures. 
When Inc. magazine compiled its latest list of the 500 fastest-growing 
private companies in America, they discovered that the founders of 
these businesses usually needed a few tries to get it right. Many had 
started out in different enterprises; and of those initial start-ups, one-
third died untimely deaths. One-half were sold. The founders didn』t 
hit on the right formulas immediately, but they lived (nonetheless) to 
sell another day. 

What often differentiates entrepreneurs from the rest of us is not only 
their fearlessness toward risk and failure. It is also their relentless ability 
to see opportunity everywhere. 

When Nicholas Hall read an article that chronicled the ups and downs 
of his fellow entrepreneurs, he took particular note of the high percentage 
of startup failures. Hall was no stranger to startup failure, 
but he always enjoyed the journey in both the good times and the 
bad. That』s when he got the idea to start a Web site called 
「Startupfailures—The Place for Bouncing Back.」 This online community 
supports entrepreneurs through the experience of a startup failure. 
Its purpose is to take the stigma out of failure, help entrepreneurs 
rebound from their setback, and 「get back into the game and the 
action.」 As Hall says, 「The only true failure is never trying.」 

Mastering an activity can be its own reward, despite the outcome. I 
have a feeling this is a lesson that Ellen Ripstein already knows. 


:^) CHAPTER 3 

Ripstein used to be called 「the Susan Lucci of Crossword Puzzles.」 
Before capturing the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament Title in 
2001, Ripstein had finished among the top five for 18 years in a row 
without ever emerging victorious. (Soap opera buffs may recall that 
Lucci was nominated for an Emmy award 19 times before she finally 
won the coveted trophy in 1999 for her work as an actress on 「All My 
Children.」) The concentration, skill, and discipline it takes to win this 
tournament are nearly unimaginable. For Ripstein, who researches 
and proofreads puzzles and word games for a living, the tournament 
is an intensely competitive event and no joking matter. Just to give you 
a little perspective, she is capable of completing the Saturday New 
York Times puzzle in less than five minutes and the Sunday version in 
10 to 15 minutes. 

Bad Timing 

Some of failure』s best lessons are in the realm of self-knowledge. All 
that soul-searching anchors information in ways that are both memorable 
and character-building. 

Olympic speed skater Dan Jansen』s sister Jane died of leukemia on the 
day of his 500-meter race in Calgary in 1988. Had the fates been kind, 
Jansen would have won that 500-meter race he dedicated to his sister, 
or at least the 1,000-meter race he skated four days later. Instead, he 
stumbled twice and went down in defeat. You can write his mistakes 
off to grief and be partly right. But it wasn』t just sadness that made 
him stumble. It was fear of success, too, and possibly survivor』s guilt. 
He just didn』t feel right celebrating a victory so soon after his sister』s 
death. It was more important to mourn her passing. 

Six years later, he felt more ready and deserving of the honor. In fact, 
he felt worthy enough to set a new Olympic world record in the 
1,000-meter race at Lillehammer and to take victory laps with his 
daughter Jane nestled in his arms. Although such well-deserved victories 
are obviously heartwarming, Jansen believes that the battle to 
accomplish your goals is more important than any medal or award. 
Some of his fans agree. One of his favorite post-Olympian memories 


FAIL(URE) IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD :^) 

came from a well-wisher who told him, 「You would』ve been a hero 
whether you won the race or not.」 Like Jansen, she believed that his 
ability to persist in the face of adversity was every bit as admirable as 
the medal. Jansen』s father agrees, saying that the way his son handles 
his defeats is every bit as impressive as the way he handles victory. 
This is not about being a good loser. It is about the dignity of wholehearted 
commitment and effort. 

Prejudice 

Some failures are the result of ignorance—not your own, but other 
people』s. Such ignorance typically reveals itself in the form of racism, 
sexism, or ageism. 

A successful accountant in Philadelphia was his employer』s 「favorite 
son」 right up until the day the company discovered he was gay and 
summarily discharged him. What resulted was a down-and-dirty lawsuit 
that the accountant eventually lost. But in the process, he gained 
something more important: a sense of integrity. Never again would he 
hide his sexual orientation. He vowed that from then on, he』d always 
live an openly homosexual life. He also decided to establish his own 
practice. He was gratified to discover that most clients care little about 
their accountant』s sexual orientation and a great deal about his or her 
ability to save them tax dollars. This knowledge made him much more 
secure about his professional future and place in the human community. 


For people who have felt the need to hide their religion, sexual preferences, 
age, or other sensitive information from their employers, to 
have that information come out into the open can be liberating, even 
if they end up losing a job as a result (which, hopefully, they won』t). 

Although how much personal information you reveal should always 
be your choice, you won』t always have that luxury. Should you find 
yourself on the wrong end of prejudice and ignorance, you can use it 
to affirm your essential values. Standing up for who you are and what 
you believe can armor you with self-knowledge and resiliency that will 
make it difficult for anyone to successfully undermine you. 


:^) CHAPTER 3 

So the next time someone doesn』t like who you are or what you stand 
for, remember that it』s really their problem, not yours. They』re entitled 
to what they believe, but their beliefs can』t diminish you unless somewhere 
deep down you think they』re right. 

Poor Support Systems 

The power of community was probably the single greatest variable in 
the success and failure of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist during 
World War II, whose exploits have been recorded for posterity by 
writer Thomas Kenneally and dramatized by Steven Spielberg in 

Schindler』s List. 

Schindler was a conniving, manipulative womanizer whose initial goal 
was to exploit a wartime economy by using the Jewish people as cheap 
labor to staff his start-up enamelware company. His motivation was 
strictly economic self-interest. What he didn』t bargain for was the 
incredible father-son relationship he would develop with his chief 
accountant Itzhak Stern, and how Schindler』s desire to please his surrogate 
father would so transform his psyche. 

Stern was an astute businessman who taught Schindler how to make 
money. In the process, he also taught him love and compassion for the 
people who brought him profits. Eventually, Schindler』s mission to 
save the people who worked for him became larger and more important 
than his desire to make money and did, indeed, interfere with his 
capitalistic motives. By the time the war was over, the wealthy 
Schindler was a poor man who had managed to save hundreds of 
lives. 

After the war, without his trusted business advisor, Schindler was 
never able to grow a viable business again. He died a poor man, 
dependent on the people he』d saved for his own survival. Was 
Schindler a success or a failure? In his lifetime, Schindler succeeded 
and failed several times. Financially, he did not succeed. In other ways, 
it』s more difficult to judge. In Israel, he always received a hero』s welcome 
from the people he had saved. In his native country, he was often 
jeered as a Jew-lover. 


FAIL(URE) IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD :^) 

Maybe it isn』t fair to judge a man』s life in terms of some great final 
curtain call. Schindler』s greatest accomplishments occurred in the middle 
of his life, when a trusted advisor and a nobler purpose created a 
unique window of opportunity for him to succeed financially. 
Ironically, at a time when he was most able to achieve financial success, 
he cared more for something (or someone) else. That Oskar 
Schindler, a conniving, manipulative womanizer, was capable of such 
noble acts should give us all pause for thought. 

Strong people connections were also at the heart of Dan Jansen』s ability 
to recover from his setbacks at Calgary. Jansen (who credits much 
of his success to his extensive network of supportive family and 
friends) uses a technique called the 「mental war room,」 which he 
learned from sports psychologist Jim Loer. The room is a place he peoples 
with his favorite memories, photographs, conversations, and even 
songs. When the outside world threatens to overwhelm his capacity to 
concentrate, he goes into his 「mental war room」 for comfort and 
calm. 

If you don』t have good support systems available to you during stressful 
times, failures become an experience of isolation rather than connection. 
To overcome that sense of alienation, you must force yourself 
to reach out to others who can help. This can be a risk. People aren』t 
always predictable. Sometimes, trusted buddies turn out to be fair-
weather friends while more distant acquaintances move in to fill the 
breach. As an account-executive client of mine remarked, 「You really 
find out who your friends are when the chips are down.」 

For this executive, the chips were down on the day her boss at the 
marketing research company where she worked expressed displeasure 
with her leadership abilities and gave her 60 days to straighten out. 
The problem, it turns out, reflected a conflict of values more than a 
lack of leadership. The account executive has a strong people orientation 
and tends to lead with her heart as much as her head. Her boss, 
a vice president, manages strictly in accordance with the numbers on 
the bottom line. Employee welfare and job security aren』t considerations 
for him. Thus, to avoid being called 「too soft,」 the account 


:^) CHAPTER 3 

executive had to deal with her staff in a manner markedly against her 
nature. 

Soon, she began to question whether she really had the skills to survive 
in business. Certainly, no one in her company seemed to respect 
her abilities or regard her future. Her crisis of confidence was so 
strong that she sought professional assistance to determine whether 
she needed a career change. As we talked, it became clear that she did 
need to toughen up emotionally and not take criticism of her abilities 
quite so seriously. She also needed to realize, though, that the respect 
she shows to subordinates is a strength, not a weakness. Although it』s 
important to acknowledge and deal with bottom-line concerns, this 
doesn』t have to mean treating others disrespectfully and unfairly. 

Strengthened by our conversation, the account executive approached 
her boss with ideas for improving the bottom line without firing staff. 
When her boss didn』t buy in, she decided to look for a more supportive 
business environment where her values and style would be more 
compatible with those of her co-workers. 

Turning Failures Around 

Most failures are symptoms that you need to make some kind of 
change. Although it』s tempting to see yourself as the victim of bad 
luck, you』ll be better off if you figure out whether you』re contributing 
to your own misfortunes. 

Have you ever noticed, for example, that while you always end up on 
the short end of fate, there are others who always seem to end up on 
the right side of it? Probably, it』s no accident. Find me a person who 
always seems to be in the 「right place at the right time,」 and I』ll show 
you someone who knows how to recognize and convert opportunities 
to his or her own advantage. 

Blaming your bad luck on someone else is worse yet. It moves the 
locus of control 「out there」 where you can』t do anything to make it 
better. What you really need to do is buckle down and figure out how 
to gain more control. 


FAIL(URE) IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD :^) 

When you catch yourself falling into the blaming trap, a neon STOP 
sign should go on in your head. Instead of falling into 「poor-me, 
rotten-you」 thinking, ask yourself how you can turn your defeat into 
a more positive experience. Perhaps you』ve been unfairly treated. Can 
you think of ways you could have handled the situation differently? 
Honestly, were you the stellar, outstanding citizen and employee 
you』re now claiming to be? Did a competitor beat you, perhaps, 
because he actually had better skills or better connections? 

Sometimes we lose out on things we really want because someone 
knew someone who knew someone who helped your rival gain the 
inside advantage. You can call it 「rotten luck,」 or you can identify it 
as a need for better networking or more marketable job skills. 

It helps if you can find some humor in your situation. Although he had 
every right to cry 「poor me」 a hundred times over, actor George 
Lopez chose to transform his traumatic childhood experiences into a 
television laugh track. In the process, he learned the power of self-
discovery, resilience, and forgiveness. Although he is the creator and 
main character in a successful sitcom, his successful ratings are based 
on the painful reality of a failed childhood from which he is still recovering. 


Regardless of the shape and form they take, failures can—and often 
do—feel like the end of the world. Most failures, however, are temporary 
setbacks rather than career enders. The key is to be able to overcome 
the blow to your ego, which almost always occurs, so that you 
can learn the lessons failure can teach. Invariably, one of these lessons 
involves humility. No matter how high you climb, you』ll always make 
mistakes. Owning up to those mistakes is part of the process of career 
growth. 

Dr. Spock』s Change of Heart 

The name 「Dr. Spock」 was a household word to most baby boomers』 
parents, who religiously followed his recommendations when rearing 
their children. Because of his widespread success, Benjamin Spock 


:^) CHAPTER 3 

never anticipated the criticism he』d receive a generation later at the 
hands of feminists who vehemently disagreed with his advice. After 
these attacks, Dr. Spock retreated into emotional isolation to determine 
what had happened. At first he simply nursed his wounds. Once 
he got past the hurt, though, he began to see his critics』 point. He 
adapted his viewpoint publicly and acknowledged that fathers were 
equally capable of good child-rearing practices. It was a sign of Dr. 
Spock』s wisdom and strength that he was eventually able to hear the 
criticism and respond to it appropriately. Otherwise, he would have 
quickly become an anachronism, a man who could not respond to the 
call of new times. 

Criticisms can be painful but important learning experiences. 
Sometimes, as in Spock』s case, they』re well justified. Other times, 
they』re mostly professional jealousy, someone else』s sour grapes. In 
either case, you must learn to find the kernel of truth in what others 
say about you. More important, you must learn to listen to the voice 
within yourself. Know what those nagging self-doubts you carry in 
your head really mean lest you turn them into self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Setbacks can show you what not to do again and teach you how to 
cope with—and grow—from failure. Although you might never 
embrace failure wholeheartedly, you might find some truth in the 
cliche that 「what doesn』t kill you makes you stronger.」 Having survived 
your losses, you might discover a newfound power within yourself. 


According to Mary Lynn Pulley, the author of Losing Your Job— 
Reclaiming Your Soul, 「Probably the most important thing that people 
can do to avoid feeling like a victim is to not dwell on why something 
happened…but instead move forward with a sense of hope and 
imagination toward their future.」 

It』s a Wonderful Life 

We all know the movie 「It』s a Wonderful Life.」 It is a Christmas classic 
that is etched into our collective psyche. This film is a story about 


FAIL(URE) IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD :^) 

a man named George Bailey. Although he』s a good, honest man 
always struggling to do the right thing, Bailey questions his life and 
the choices he』s made. Teetering on the brink of despair, he finally concludes 
that his life has been a failure. Surmising that it might have 
been better if he had never been born, he contemplates suicide. 
Thanks to the efforts of a novice angel (determined to get his wings), 
Bailey discovers that he was not a failure at all—that he did fit into 
the scheme of life and contributed much to the happiness of other 
people. 

The story behind the story is equally compelling. The original screenplay 
for this movie grew out of a short story written by Philip Van 
Doren that, ironically, no one wanted and never got published in that 
form. Instead, Van Doren published his story as a Christmas card. But 
director Frank Capra recognized its potential and, in 1946, produced 
the movie that would become his magnum opus. 

Although the movie wasn』t initially a commercial disaster, neither was 
it a commercial success. Despite opening to generally positive reviews, 
it lost money on its initial release. Time turned out to be its greatest 
ally. Capra believes that it』s because 「there』s a little George Bailey in 
all of us.」 Perhaps it』s a message we need to hear again and again. 
That』s why, at least once every year, we thank Jimmy Stewart (and 
Frank Capra) for reminding us that even if we haven』t achieved all of 
our career and financial goals, there are myriad ways to measure success 
and still feel good about our lives. 


:^) CHAPTER 3 

66 
Fail(ure) Is Not a Four-Letter Word 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. What is your experience with failure so far? 
2. Are you afraid to fail? 
3. Does a fear of failure ever prevent you from trying new things? 
4. If you weren』t afraid of failing, what would you do (or try to do)? 
5. When you were growing up, how did your parents handle your 
mistakes? 
6. As a youngster, were you overly critical of your own mistakes? 
If yes, do you know why? 
7. Do you have a low opinion of your own abilities? 

FAIL(URE) IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD :^) 

8. Do you suffer from low self-esteem? 
9. Describe your biggest career failure. 
10. How did it make you feel to fail? 
11. Do you know why the failure occurred? 
12. Is there anything you could have done to prevent yourself from 
failing? 
13. Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? 
14. Do you know the difference between a small mistake and a big 
one? 

(continues) 


:^) 
CHAPTER 3 

(continued) 

15. Do you have a tendency to take yourself too seriously? 
16. 
Can you think of a time in your life when you learned something 
important from failure that prevented you from making a 
similar mistake again? 
17. Of all the examples cited in this chapter, whom did you identify 
with the most? Why? 
18. 
Of all the examples cited in this chapter, whom did you admire 
the most? Is there anything you can do to be more like that 
person? 
19. 
If you』re overly fearful of failure, have difficulty accepting your 
own mistakes, and/or have trouble recovering from career setbacks, 
have you considered working with a professional therapist 
to strengthen your resiliency? Why or why not? 

CHAPTER 4 


Oh No, 50!: Midlife Career 
Transitions 


Why put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after 
tomorrow? 

—Mark Twain 

We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life』s 
morning. 

—Carl Jung 

A
A
fter losing two friends on September 
11th, New York Knicks coach Jeff Van 
Gundy decided that it was time for him to 

say 「Adios」 to the sport he loved. Van Gundy wasn』t the only one to 
speed up his retirement. AOL Time-Warner executive Gerald Levin 
was also so affected by the attacks that he escalated the timetable for 
his retirement. 

But it wasn』t just high-profile executives and millionaires who saw 
「9-11」 as an opportunity to re-evaluate their goals and priorities. For 
Dan, a 54-year-old communications technician, the moment of truth 
came during the funeral of a family friend. Although he was planning 
to retire in two years, time suddenly seemed more precious to him than 
building his retirement nest egg, so he accepted a voluntary buyout. 
Randy had a similar epiphany. Although he had always planned to 
retire at 55, watching the twin towers fall forced him to rethink his 
timetable. 


:^) CHAPTER 4 

「I always wanted to travel and see the world,」 Randy said. 「All of a 
sudden it felt like 『now or never.』」 

Two days later, Randy quit his job as an accountant and bought a ticket 
to Australia, where he』s learned to appreciate the more leisurely 
lifestyle. Although he knows he has yet to decide what he wants to do 
when he gets back from his sabbatical, he is enjoying the time off to 
regain his composure and perspective. 

Although the events of 「9-11」 might have spawned a number of mid-
life transitions, they are certainly not new. Such transitions have been 
around for a while now. When she was 33 years old, Anna Navarro 
was the director of corporate social responsibility at St. Louis–based 
Monsanto Company. As the top-ranking female executive in the company, 
she had a high-profile, high-paying job that would have made 
many ambitious people drool. But in some fundamental way, it 
wasn』t fulfilling. 「I was at the top,」 says Navarro, 「but I was spending 
my time writing reports and crunching numbers, which I hate, and 
doing the bureaucratic maneuvering that』s essential for a rising executive. 
I wasn』t having very much fun. What I really wanted was to wear 
casual clothes and make a real difference in the quality of people』s 
lives.」 

One day during lunch, a male colleague who was about 45 years old 
started complaining to Navarro about how much he hated his job. He 
calculated that he had 10 more years to go before he could take early 
retirement. That conversation really bothered Navarro. Driving home 
that night, she told herself that if there was a different way to live, she 
didn』t want to wait until she was 55 to discover it. Realizing that, she 
did something quite miraculous. Without knowing what she wanted 
to do next, she resigned so that she could figure it out. It wasn』t a flip 
decision. She agonized long and hard before making the move. Her 
friends thought she was crazy. Her husband tried to talk her out of it. 
So did the people she worked with, as well as the CEO who had 
recruited and mentored her. 

「You can do anything you want here,」 he told her. But there was 
nothing there she wanted to do. Not that she had some perfect vision 


OH NO, 50!: MIDLIFE CAREER TRANSITIONS :^) 

of what she really wanted. She just needed the time and space to figure 
it out. A few years of introspection, brainstorming, and research 
brought her to an awareness that resulted in the founding of Work 
Transitions, a service based in St. Louis that helps others navigate out 
of career ruts like the one she was experiencing. 

Navarro apparently hit her midlife career crisis early. For most people, 
it strikes around age 50. Although there』s nothing magical about that 
age, the five-decade mark seems to send out warning signals that it』s 
time to cross some new developmental threshold. At 50, you can no 
longer pretend that you』re young; but if you』re healthy, you probably 
aren』t feeling old, either. 

This is what it means to be middle-aged. Your youth is definitely 
behind you, but your most productive years might still be ahead. If 
you』re like most of the 50-year-olds I know, you』re probably asking 
yourself: 「How do I really want to spend my time?」 The answer to 
that question is a highly individual one. But the prevalence of midlife 
career changes makes it unlikely that you』ll be alone if you decide that 
you want to spend the next stage of your life doing something different 
than you did before. 

Are You Just Waiting for a Pension? 

To make the right decisions during this phase of life, you need to 
understand the new philosophical view of work that Navarro teaches. 
The days when a person could join an organization and receive automatic 
job security, benefits, pay raises, and promotions are gone forever, 
she says. Work is structured differently now. The key today is to 
know how to survive and grow in the midst of change. To do that, you 
must take responsibility for managing your own career. 

This can be a hard message to learn late in the work game, especially 
if you』ve been entrusting your career to your employer all these years. 
You might discover (if you haven』t already done so) that the job market 
isn』t cooperating with your desires anymore. Outplacement counselors 
know this mentality all too well. In every workshop we teach, 


:^) CHAPTER 4 

there is inevitably someone whose only career ambition was to get a 
full pension and retire. 

If you』ve spent your career stockpiling money and years of service 
rather than marketable skills, losing your job can be a downright 
catastrophe. It』s daunting to face a discriminatory job market when 
you』re in the twilight of your career and lack both self-confidence and 
a set of abilities that employers value. It makes for a lot of bitterness, 
insecurity, and cynicism. 

There are lucky professionals who manage to make it safely to retirement 
without any hitches. But even these folks have been learning 
some rude life lessons. Many are finding retirement to be unaffordable 
financially or emotionally—or both. As one 55-year-old former sales 
manager commented after only three months of retirement, 「It』s OK 
for a summer vacation. But I can』t spend the rest of my life chasing a 
ball around the golf course. I have to do something more productive.」 

Ditto for a 60-year-old data-processing specialist who returned to 
work part time after less than a year out. 「I could only pot so many 
plants,」 she says. 「Once the garden was finished, I needed a little 
more mental stimulation.」 

The idea that every person』s life should begin with education and end 
with leisure (with an extended period of work in the middle) is too 
narrowly proscribed to meet the complexity of modern adult lives and 
desires. For starters, it ignores the possibility that some people might 
actually enjoy their work and want to go on doing it for as long as 
they』re physically and mentally able. And that even those who don』t 
like their jobs might prefer tackling a new challenge over spending the 
rest of their years rocking on the front porch. 

A New Phase of Life 

New York gerontologist Lydia Bronte, who wrote, The Longevity 
Factor: The New Reality of Long Careers and How It Can Lead 
to Richer Lives (1993, HarperCollins), posits the existence of a 
whole new stage in life between ages 50 and 75. She calls this period 


OH NO, 50!: MIDLIFE CAREER TRANSITIONS :^) 

「second middle age」 and says that adults in this phase need fulfilling 
activities to motivate them, especially because people are living longer 
and are healthier today. 

「When adults over 50 realize just how much time there is left to 
accomplish new things, a whole new sense of adventure takes over,」 
says Judy Rosemarin, a career counselor with Sense-Able Strategies in 
Roslyn, New York. 「It can be a very exciting time.」 

Anita Lands, a New York City career counselor who specializes in 
working with older adults, sees the age-50 transition as a time of 
greater introspection. 「A lot of people start questioning what』s really 
important to them,」 says Lands, 「and they make some tradeoffs— 
usually in terms of money and upward mobility for greater satisfaction.」 


Rosemarin agrees. 「People over 50 are usually looking for better ways 
to integrate who they are with how they make a living,」 she says. 
「They want to use and develop some parts of themselves that they 
may have neglected in earlier years.」 

In this era of rampant layoffs and forced retirements, these reevaluations 
are sometimes forced on people. After 25 years in information 
technology, Cindy lost her job when her employer laid off 
thousands of workers following the terrorist attacks. For the next six 
months, the 60-year-old IT professional did everything in her power 
to find another job. But, in the face of a resounding silence from the 
job market, she began to daydream about starting her own gourmet 
food shop. 

As months passed with no job offers on the horizon, she began to 
think more seriously about launching a new career and discovered 
that the more she thought about it, the more excited and energized she 
became. So she put together a business plan, raised some seed money, 
and lined up some bankers. As her new career unfolded, she began to 
see the silver lining in her situation. The way she sees it these days, she 
was given the freedom to find out what else she wanted to do. And she 
admits she』s having a lot of fun doing it. 


:^) CHAPTER 4 

How Old Are You? 

Often, a crisis such as a layoff or forced retirement leads people to 
shift from 「cultural adulthood」 to 「emotional adulthood,」 says 
Steven Baum, a gerontologist and psychologist in private practice in 
Detroit. Baum, the author of Growing Up at Any Age (1994, Health 
Communications), believes that people are culturally railroaded into 
accepting artificial limits that have nothing to do with their individual 
abilities and shortcomings. True adulthood arrives, he says, when 
you』re able to develop a personal definition of what is meaningful 
rather than submit to socially and economically prescribed set points. 

Retirement at age 65 is one of these arbitrary set points. Although 
many arbitrarily assume that people are 「old」 at 65, there is no biological 
imperative that makes it true. Some people are emotionally 
(and even physically) old at age 35, whereas others are young at 75. 
Consider the late actress Jessica Tandy and her husband, actor Hume 
Cronyn. In the film Cocoon, they teamed up to play an aging couple 
given the gift of renewed youth. To prepare for their roles, the then75ish 
pair had to be taught how to 「act old」 because they had too 
much spring in their walks and gleam in their eyes. In a wonderful 
ironic twist, this energetic couple had to learn how to look worn 
out and worn down in order to fit the traditional stereotype of the 
elderly as doddering and frail. 

When you turn 65, you don』t suddenly become a gray-haired monster. 
The reason 65 is the traditional retirement age has more to do with an 
economic formula based on company pension plans and Social 
Security regulations than the norms of human aging. What that 
means, however, is that you might get kicked out of the workforce 
before you』re actually ready to go. 

Worth magazine believes that the whole concept of retirement should 
be retired. Why? First of all, it isn』t financially feasible for most 
people. The math just doesn』t work. Nor does it make most people 
happy. To have years of idleness and leisure isn』t everyone』s idea of the 


OH NO, 50!: MIDLIFE CAREER TRANSITIONS :^) 

ultimate good time. Some people prefer to remain active, contributing 
participants to society. 「Retirement isn』t about doing what you want 
and it certainly isn』t a Golden Age,」 according to the magazine. 
「Retirement is a weird social experiment…its collapse will be a triumph 
for common sense. 

Indeed, on the day after your 65th birthday, you might feel much the 
way you did the day before, except that you don』t have a job anymore. 
Rather than slip into the role of the old person that society has 
declared you to be, take stock of how you personally feel and how you 
want the next phase of your work life to look. 

「Most of us tend to think of retirement as the end of the story,」 says 
Lydia Bronte. 「But people who retire wake up the next morning, 
much as they』ve always done, and start another day of life. Retirement 
is another phase in life, not the end of it.」 

For increasing numbers of professionals, retirement isn』t the end of 
life; it isn』t even the end of work. Instead, it』s the end of a specific job 
or career with a specific company. As one 50-year-old former IBMer 
says, 「The key to retirement is to do it early and often.」 

Be Imaginative 

In the movie Six Degrees of Separation, an ambitious young man pretends 
to be 「Paul Poitier,」 son of famed actor Sidney Poitier. As Paul, 
he worms his way into the good graces of a wealthy New York art 
dealer and his wife who, despite their glamorous lives, long for greater 
excitement. Passionately weaving a tale of words, he touches the wife 
profoundly, making her think more clearly and deeply than ever 
before about the emptiness of the life she』s leading. Without realizing 
that he』s speaking their truth as well as his own, 「Paul Poitier」 teaches 
them, 「Imagination makes the art of self-examination bearable.」 

Although I can』t recommend this character』s method of fabricating a 
whole past life, he demonstrates how the power of a vision can captivate 
and enliven both the present and the future. When looking at 


:^) CHAPTER 4 

your own lifeline, imagining a different existence than the one you』ve 
lived so far can move you to a whole new place. Rather than impose 
self-limiting beliefs on yourself, why not learn to recognize and live 
more comfortably with your choices and desires? 

William Gold did just that, even though it meant going against the 
grain of what others thought he should do with his later years. Gold 
owned a heating and plumbing installations business in Quincy, 
Illinois, for 40 years. A master craftsman, he always enjoyed hands-on 
work more than business management. In the early 1980s, changes in 
the economic climate made it difficult for a meticulous craftsman to 
do work in the way he so enjoyed. So, at age 65, he elected to close 
his business altogether. But he couldn』t afford to retire and, in truth, 
he didn』t want to. His work was one of the great passions of his life. 

Searching for new options, he considered the obvious choice: consulting. 
Certainly, he knew enough about government rules and regulations 
to consult to others. But the field didn』t really appeal to him. He 
was more of a hands-on type. To everyone』s amazement (and amid a 
hail of protests from well-meaning friends and family), he went to 
work with the crew of men he』d once hired. And to everyone else』s 
surprise, he loved every minute of his new job. Being the oldest member 
of the crew didn』t exempt him from having to do physical labor 
(although the younger men did help him with some of the lifting and 
carrying). But on the road, he was 「one of the boys」 again and as 
involved and productive as he』d ever been. More than anything else, 
he loved feeling useful. That, for him, was the true bottom line. 

His work was so important to him that he would have done it whether 
or not he got paid. He could never walk into a room without remodeling 
it in his mind』s eye. At his synagogue, he took the single-handed 
initiative to remodel the rabbi』s study, even though he didn』t get paid 
for the work. And when he visited a cemetery and saw that the cast-
iron gates were broken, he rented a welding torch and used his own 
money to fix them. When asked why, he responded simply: 「It needed 
to be done.」 


OH NO, 50!: MIDLIFE CAREER TRANSITIONS :^) 

Gold died at age 75. He worked up until three weeks before his death. 
On his last official day on the job, he was part of a crew that was 
remodeling the hospital emergency room. When he was done, he 
turned in his tools, walked around the corner, and checked himself 
into the hospital, where he was operated on for cancer. His working 
days might have been over, but in his mind, he was still on the job. 
Even on his deathbed, he and his brother Ben were joyously scribbling 
and planning installations. 

Gerontologists Paul Costa and Robert McCrae of the National 
Institute of Aging in Washington, D.C., pinpoint 「openness to experience」 
as the single most important lifelong trait for successful aging. 
So don』t buy into the idea that everything goes downhill once you 
reach a certain age. Instead, why not try to recapture some of the spirit 
of adventure you had before all those financial responsibilities started 
weighing down your choices? 

The Health Factor 

Good health is obviously a wild card that determines how active and 
productive you can be in your latter years. But, for many people, the 
expectation of physical deterioration is more myth than reality. Not 
everyone ages in exactly the same way or according to identical 
timetables. Attitude (and, in some cases, inactivity) might play a larger 
role than most people yet realize. 

In 1965, at 59 years old, Satchel Paige was obviously too old to play 
professional baseball. So how did the former Kansas City A』s pitcher 
manage to turn in three scoreless innings in a single game for his team 
that year? Either he didn』t know he was too old, or he was too old to 
care what other people thought. 「How old would you be if you never 
knew how old you was?」 quipped Paige. 

Physical age doesn』t have to be synonymous with feeling old. Why 
accept limitations you don』t really have to? My friend Mel Marks, a 
retired marketing consultant who is nearing 70, still runs every day 
and competes in marathons. Norman Vaughn, an 86-year-old Alaskan 


:^) CHAPTER 4 

adventurer, competes annually in a 1,100-mile dogsled race that has 
defeated much younger men and women. 

What about Dietrich Lamprecht, a 67-year-old former steelworker, 
who』s enjoyed more competitive success in retirement than he ever did 
in traditional work roles? Lamprecht took up bicycle racing after his 
employer, Kaiser Steel Co. in Fontana, California, went bankrupt 10 
years ago. Spurred on by the joy of competing, Lamprecht won the 
Masters World Cup in Austria against a field of 2,300 riders from 37 
countries. He』s also the current U.S. national cyclist champion in his 
age class. Defying the 「one-foot-in-the-grave」 stereotype of older 
adults, he is the picture of health and vitality. 

In part, it is the dream of winning and the love of competition that 
keep him motivated. Like many people, Lamprecht found his calling 
after retirement, when some of the monetary constraints attached to 
making a living were removed. Canadian scholar John A.B. McLeish 
refers to people like him as 「Ulyssean adults」 because, like Ulysses, 
they set out on new voyages in their later years. 

While some older adults push for new physical adventures, a yearning 
and quest for creativity might also govern the journey. Marks, for 
example, has taken up writing and published his first historical work, 
called Jews Among the Indians; corporate attorney Frank Mackey 
traded in his share of his Little Rock, Arkansas, law practice to begin 
a new career as an actor. Defying the conventional notions about older 
adults, these active folks aren』t getting ready to die. They』re just learning 
how to live. 

Judy Rosemarin believes that older adults need to recapture some of 
the curiosity and wonder that children typically bring to their projects. 
She cites a wonderful inspirational story about her friend Harry 
Lieberman, who retired from his job as a candy maker after 50 years 
in the business. One day, the 80-year-old Lieberman was hanging out 
at the senior center, waiting for his chess partner, who didn』t show. 
To keep busy, Lieberman allowed himself to be persuaded to start 
painting. 


OH NO, 50!: MIDLIFE CAREER TRANSITIONS :^) 

The furthest thing from this man』s mind was starting a new career 
at the age of 80. But he proved to have such a talent for primitive 
painting that, like Grandma Moses, his work caught the attention of 
others and started selling. As a result, his next 24 years of life (!) 
proved enormously productive. When he was 100 years old, a New 
York publishing house signed him to a seven-year contract to illustrate 
one of their calendars. Lieberman died with three years left to go on 
the contract. Lieberman didn』t set out to emulate the life of Grandma 
Moses, the American primitive artist from upstate New York. She 
began painting at the age of 75 because she was 「too old to work on 
the farm and too young to sit on the porch.」 Nevertheless, the similarity 
of his late-life career path took him down that road anyway. 

Later Years Can Be Productive Years 

The idea of starting a whole new career at 60, 70, or even 80 might 
seem strange at first. But if you recognize that development doesn』t 
stop just because your birthday has arrived (yet again), you might be 
pleasantly surprised by how productive and fulfilling your later years 
turn out to be. The key is to involve yourself in activities you find 
stimulating, regardless of the financial payoff. 

When she was 54 years old, after a long career as a traditional wife 
and mother, Shirley Brussell went back to school to complete a master』s 
degree in community organization. While studying at the university, 
she became involved in creating employment programs for older 
people. At age 56, she served on a volunteer task force to create an 
employment counseling service for seniors. Twenty-five years later, 
Brussell heads up Operation Able, a nonprofit organization in 
Chicago with a $4 million annual budget and 350 employees on its 
payroll. 

For her, retirement is a concept that holds no allure. Instead, she concentrates 
on planning her future involvements—always thinking in 
terms of what she wants to learn or where she wants to help. 「As long 
as you feel yourself growing,」 says Brussell, 「you don』t feel old.」 


:^) CHAPTER 4 

The desire to keep growing and to give something back to the community 
fuels many late-life career decisions. For people with that urge, 
writing and teaching have proved particularly popular options. For 
inspiration, look at 77-year-old, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian 
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who says, 「Writing history is more fun than 
doing anything else, so I just keep on doing it.」 For him, intellectual 
curiosity is a great preservative. Without mental stimulation and activity, 
he』d be a very unhappy man. 

「The beauty of teaching as a second career choice is that it lets you 
use all the wisdom and experience you』ve gained through the years,」 
says Judy Rosemarin. 「It』s fun for people to be able to give some of 
what they』ve learned through the years back to others.」 

For one 51-year-old engineer who』s in the midst of a segue from 
Illinois Bell into teaching computer science, early retirement has felt 
more like graduation day. 「It』s as if huge weights have been lifted from 
my feet and I』m finally free to achieve my potential,」 she says. While 
she intends to upgrade her education with a new master』s degree, 
many professionals already have the credentials and knowledge to 
teach. At 75, a former nuclear physicist discovered he was more than 
qualified to teach calculus and physics to undergraduate students. As 
an adjunct professor, he immensely enjoys the classes he teaches. Plus, 
unlike career academics who are constrained by the need to publish, 
he』s free to focus his time and attention strictly on serving and helping 
students. It』s a wonderful way for him to stay connected to a younger 
generation without denying his own maturity and experience. 

Managing Late Career Change 

Job security might be a thing of the past, but there』s no reason that job 
changes and transitions need to be viewed as career failures or the end 
of the line. If you want or need to continue working, you can take the 
initiative to develop innovative career strategies that enable you to 
remain a productive, contributing member of the workforce in your 
later years. 


OH NO, 50!: MIDLIFE CAREER TRANSITIONS :^) 

After a Job Loss 

If you』re over age 50 and you just lost your job, there』s no need to 
assume that retirement has to be your next step. Rick Ehlers, director 
of client services for Jarosz and Associates, an outplacement firm in 
Deerfield, Illinois, encourages older professionals to view job losses as 
opportunities to do more interesting and meaningful work. 

「The current economic climate provides a unique opportunity for 
older professionals to identify niches for their expertise, rather than 
worrying about where there are actual job openings,」 says Ehlers. By 
way of example, he cites the case of an older candidate who』d been an 
on-air personality with several major radio networks. At first, the man 
had trouble finding a job on air in the competitive, youth-oriented 
world of network radio. So he decided to switch gears to consulting 
and was able to convince a small Chicago station to create a spot for 
him. As a consultant, he was able to help station executives with programming 
decisions, coach on-air personalities, and even work with 
the sales force to develop strategies. Instead of leaving the industry he 
loved, he was able to parlay his extensive media expertise into whole 
new areas of skill and experience. The key was adopting a more independent 
mind-set. 

The reality of age discrimination means that older workers often need 
to develop more autonomous ways of working rather than rely on a 
single employer for their whole paycheck. Happily, many experienced 
professionals seek greater freedom and independence, anyway. If 
that』s your situation, starting your own new venture might be the best 
way to go, especially if you have lots of ambition and energy left for 
work. 

Col. Harlan Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, was 64 
years old when he decided to franchise his restaurant and method of 
making fried chicken. Ten years later, he had more than 600 franchises 
operating under the KFC name. Not surprisingly, Col. Sanders 
believed that mandatory retirement was a waste of valuable brain 
power, talent, and energy. He thought it should be eliminated. 


:^) CHAPTER 4 

Speaking before the U.S. Congressional Committee on Aging in 1977, 
he made the following comments: 

I』m not against retirement for people who want it. But 
retirement』s just not for me. I believe a man will rust out 
quicker 』n he』ll wear out. Now it』s not that us older folks are 
smarter than you youngsters, but at least we』ve had an 
opportunity to make most of the common mistakes. We』ve 
had our quota of disappointments and burned fingers. 
We』ve lost some of the fears and insecurities that plagued 
our youth. And, to the degree that we』ve learned from these 
experiences, we』ve gained some wisdom. 

The Generation Gap 

Many employment dilemmas today are a result of a lack of respect 
and appreciation for intergenerational differences, says Rosemarin. 
And the misunderstandings work both ways. 

One 58-year-old engineer displayed an attitude toward younger colleagues 
that a co-worker characterized as 「Die, Yuppie scum.」 
Because he showed his contempt so clearly, the engineer shouldn』t 
have been surprised when his name showed up on his employer』s list 
of job cuts. Then, when he had trouble finding another position, he 
blamed his problem on an indifferent job market. He might have had 
better luck if he had accepted responsibility for his own predicament 
and taken a more positive approach. 

If you』re interested in more traditional employment routes, be careful 
not to reinforce age-related stereotypes in interviews, says Rosemarin. 
Instead, take the initiative to show how (and why) you』ll fit into the 
corporate culture. As a 50-something consultant, Rosemarin remembers 
working for a high-profile, youth-oriented entertainment company 
where anyone over 55 was considered ancient history. Rather than 
react defensively, she played up that she』s a highly energetic woman 
who』s always on the move with new ideas and projects—just like her 


OH NO, 50!: MIDLIFE CAREER TRANSITIONS :^) 

creative clients. The recognition of similarities (age differences 
notwithstanding) made them much more receptive to the solutions she 
proposed. 

Like comedian Rodney Dangerfield, some older workers are so busy 
complaining they 「don』t get no respect」 that they fail to realize they 
aren』t showing others much respect, either. Strangely enough, you can 
stop that cycle of disrespect by showing more self-respect. Once you 
know and appreciate your own value, no one can diminish your 
worth, no matter how rude they might be. What』s more, when you 
present yourself as a self-respecting professional who』s earned your 
wisdom and experience, others will be more inclined to treat you that 
way. In other words, the world might start to reflect back what you 
show it. 

Rosemarin remembers her own astonishment when talking to a 29year-
old outplacement intern at Chemical Bank in New York who told 
her, 「I can』t wait to be your age.」 When pressed for reasons, the intern 
explained: 「In this field, where I』m expected to counsel so many senior 
executives, age helps with credibility and respect.」 The intern』s 
comment reinforced Rosemarin』s belief that there are advantages to 
being whatever age you are. The real key is to recognize and promote 
those advantages. If you』ve achieved some stature in your field and 
want to continue achieving in leadership roles, this means building on 
your professional credentials rather than downplaying or denying 
them. You might be surprised to discover how much you can accomplish 
in the years you have left. 

Limitless Potential 

Many older adults don』t recognize the depth and breadth of their own 
potential. Regardless of age, this can take some time, and experimentation 
with new life roles, to figure out. 

The 「Young-Old」 

Benjamin Franklin was 70 years old when he was appointed to the 
committee that wrote the Declaration of Independence. When he was 


:^) CHAPTER 4 

72, he got France to recognize the United States. And, at 82, he 
worked with Congress to help ratify the Constitution. 

Thomas Jefferson was 76 when he founded the University of Virginia. 

At 67, George C. Marshall received the Nobel Prize for designing the 
European Recovery program after World War II. 

Jessica Tandy was 79 when she won an Oscar for her portrayal of 
Daisy Werthan in Driving Miss Daisy. She was two years older when 
she was nominated again for her role as Ninny Threadgood in Fried 
Green Tomatoes, where she taught a much-younger Kathy Bates how 
to find joy in life. 

Perhaps it』s just an accident of fate or some extraordinary talent that 
led these go-getters to produce such memorable late-life accomplishments. 
However, it』s hard not to note the myriad ways in which their 
attitudes toward life and aging inspired them to achieve. Instead of 
believing that there』s some biological watershed when everything 
starts to deteriorate and go downhill, these productive adults worked 
in ways that kept them actively involved participants in the business 
of life. Each of these high achievers fit a category sociologist Bernice 
Neugarten called the 「young-old.」 Rather than cave into some 
chronological divide, they parlayed their wisdom and experience into 
meaningful achievements that added years and dimensions to their 
lives. What they all had in common was a vision or a dream—an 
unwillingness to be held back by preconceptions, misconceptions, or 
fears. 

At 45 years old, boxer George Foreman was more afraid of 「not having 
a dream」 than he was of climbing into the ring again with a much-
younger opponent. The result was boxing history when he knocked 
out 26-year-old Michael Moorer in 1994 to regain the title he』d lost 
20 years before and become the oldest heavyweight champion ever. 

No Limits, No Finish Line 

A former project engineer for a satellite communications company in 
New York City offered to help a widowed friend with her floundering 


OH NO, 50!: MIDLIFE CAREER TRANSITIONS :^) 

restaurant. He thought he』d just be pitching in with salad-chopping or 
pancake-making (duties he had little experience with). However, his 
contribution turned out to be much bigger than that. Once he got a 
hands-on feel for the restaurant business, he found, to his surprise, 
that he knew how to do things he』d never realized he could. Before 
long, for example, he was helping improve the restaurant』s layout, 
determine food requirements, and even plan the menu. All it took was 
applying the project-management skills and experience he』d already 
acquired in a different environment. 

So, too, for Frank Mackey, whose entrepreneurial spirit and 「tough 
hide」 of self-confidence enabled him to break into the extremely competitive 
arena of commercial acting. While his younger colleagues 
lament the dearth of work, the 63-year-old Mackey religiously (and 
some would say relentlessly) makes his rounds to talent agents. In his 
very first six months of operation, Mackey has the beginnings of a 
portfolio that might make for a truly successful late-life career. 
Already, he』s garnered projects with prestigious companies such as 
Sears, Roebuck and Company and Leo Burnett. 

Some think he』s crazy to have given up a lucrative legal career for the 
tough world of acting, where money and projects can be scarce and 
the focus is on youth and glamour. But, like the late Oscar Wilde, the 
upbeat Mackey believes, 「The only thing you never regret in old age 
are your mistakes.」 He』s looking forward to the future, not rehashing 
the errors of the past. 

As a mature adult, it』s time to start gauging for yourself what is and 
isn』t 「realistic」 for you. Before caving into societal or peer pressure to 
accept a diminished (and unnecessarily unsatisfying) role in life, try 
approaching your life choices more creatively. 

In The Fifth Discipline (1994, Doubleday), author Peter Senge questions 
whether we』ve become prisoners of 「the system」 or of our own 
limited way of thinking. He believes that a spirit of mastery 
(which goes beyond actual skill and competence) is the key to a 
creative and productive life. People with a high level of personal 


:^) CHAPTER 4 

mastery live in a continual learning mode and consider the experience 
its own reward. 

My colleague Steve Garrett, an independent outplacement consultant 
in Chicago, has a poster hanging on his living room wall that reads, 
「There is no finish line.」 At his annual holiday party, he caught me 
contemplating the poster with amusement. 

「It』s a reminder to enjoy the journey,」 he laughed. A moment of 
understanding passed between us. As outplacement professionals, we 
have seen too many people who are trying desperately to wait out 
their time until retirement. Collecting pension plans and retirement 
monies was once a feasible (and quite practical) workplace reality, but 
times have changed. Before you agree to turn your remaining work 
years into decades of drudgery, consider the importance of rich personal 
experience for lifelong happiness. 

After 1,846 days and nights on the road—which included photo 
safaris in Kenya and Tanzania, voyages to Antarctica, cruises in the 
Baltic, and hiking in Ireland—Jack Schnedler, part-time travel editor 
for the Chicago Sun-Times, decided to give up his globetrotting life for 
a more settled existence as the managing editor of the Arkansas 
Democrat-Gazette. But he recognized the value of the memories he 
had built en route. 「I can live comfortably on the interest I』ll be drawing 
from these 12 years of indelibly banked travel editor』s memories,」 
he wrote in his last Sun-Times column. 

The truth is, there is no finish line because there is no race. The only 
agenda that matters starts at birth and ends at death. As an act of self-
empowerment, try abandoning the whole concept of retirement. 
Doing so can bring undreamed-of opportunities for growth and 
achievement. Too many people seem to accept the idea that work is 
automatically drudgery and leisure is more fulfilling. Yet many people』s 
lives are enriched, rather than diminished, by their work. Viewing 
work as a way to meet your needs and enrich your life can be an emotionally 
rewarding experience. 


OH NO, 50!: MIDLIFE CAREER TRANSITIONS :^) 

「That』s the beauty of it,」 says Anita Lands. 「There is no right or 
wrong answer. It』s all up to you.」 

Tips for Saving for Early Retirement 
Savings are usually the key to an early retirement, even if you have a 
generous pension. If your savings fall short, there are three ways you 
can still get on track for an early out. 
Step 1: Save smart. Take full advantage of any 401(k) or 403(b) or 
other employer-sponsored tax-deferred retirement plans. No other 
investment vehicles can give you the triple whammy of regular sav-
ings, tax-deferred compounding, and employer-matched funding. If 
you contribute as much as your plan allows and invest wisely, you 
could end up with a higher benefit in retirement than someone with 
a traditional pension plan. At the very least, contribute enough to earn 
the full employer match. Then stretch your budget so that you can 
save as much as the plan allows. 
Step 2: Make saving painless. If you change jobs, arrange for your 
employer to transfer your retirement-plan balance directly to your 
new employer』s plan or a rollover IRA. When you get a raise, increase 
your 401(k) salary-deferral rate if possible, or have automatic monthly 
deposits made into a separate savings fund. 
Step 3: Be aggressive. Make your money work as hard as you do. 
Diversify your investments. Most people play it too safe with their 
retirement savings, especially in the early years of a long-term invest-
ment. 
Source: Adapted from Kiplinger』s Personal Finance magazine. 

:^) CHAPTER 4 

Oh No, 50!: Midlife Career Transitions 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. How old are you now? 
2. How much longer do you plan to work? 
3. Are you looking forward to retirement? Or do you dread it? 
4. Do you know what you want to do after you retire? 
5. Do you plan/need to work after retirement? 
6. If you plan to work, do you know what you want to do? 
7. Is there anything you need to do now to make sure you can do 
what you want after retirement? 
8. What is your stereotype of an 「old person」? 

OH NO, 50!: MIDLIFE CAREER TRANSITIONS :^) 

9. How do you plan to combat that reality? 
10. How healthy are you? 
11. Is there anything you can do now to take better care of your 
health? 
12. Are you open to learning new things? Why or why not? 
13. When was the last time you tried something totally different? 
How did it feel? 
14. How well do you function in an unstructured environment? 
(continues) 


:^) 
CHAPTER 4 

(continued) 

15. How do you plan to structure your time after retirement? 
16. Do you have friends who plan to retire when you do? 
17. If you don』t have friends retiring with you, where do you expect 
to find community? 
18. 
Is it important to you to feel like a productive, contributing 
member of society? How do you plan to fulfill that need after 
retirement? 
19. Have you ever participated in any volunteer or community 
activities? What was that experience like? 
20. Do you have a formal retirement plan? 

OH NO, 50!: MIDLIFE CAREER TRANSITIONS :^) 

21. 
Have you considered working with a retirement-planning counselor 
to create one? If not, why? 
22. Do you have any creative instincts? If so, how do you plan to 
fulfill them? 
23. Will you need extra income after retirement? 
24. Are there any skills or experience you should be getting now to 
ensure your marketability later? 
25. Is there anyone over age 65 whom you really admire? 
26. Why do you admire this person? 
(continues) 


:^) CHAPTER 4 

(continued) 

27. 
Is there anything in this person』s attitude or behavior that you 
can work to emulate? 
28. How long do you plan to live? 
29. How are you going to make your later years fulfilling? 

PART 2 


Career Security 


Chapter 5: Achieving Career Security in Turbulent Times 
Chapter 6: How to Love the Job You Hate 
Chapter 7: Layoff Survivors』 Dilemma: Put Up or Shut Up 
Chapter 8: Quitting Your Job 


CHAPTER 5 


Achieving Career Security in 
Turbulent Times 

Security no longer comes from being employed…it must come from being 
employable. 

—Rosabeth Moss Kanter, When Giants Learn to Dance 

O
O
nly an ostrich that』s had its head buried 
in the sand for the past two decades 
could be unaware of the massive down


sizing that has been rocking the American workplace. Odds are you— 
or someone you know—has already been affected. And even if you 
know you』re in good company, being a layoff victim is a pretty traumatic 
experience, especially because the rules of job hunting have 
changed. Gone are the days when you could expect to fill out an application 
one week and be on the job the next. In this increasingly competitive 
market, you have to work hard just to get someone to read 
your resume (and it』s a miracle of miracles if they actually ask to meet 
with you). Interviews might include five managers instead of one, and 
it might take a year to land a new position where it used to take a 
month. 

If you』ve been lucky so far, don』t count on avoiding the ax forever. The 
days of cradle-to-grave employment are over. Never again will anyone 
guarantee you a paycheck for life. The only way to enjoy true career 
security today is to build yourself a network of contacts, some financial 
reserves, and a set of marketable skills. And you shouldn』t wait 
until the last minute to do so because none of these tools can be 
thrown together overnight. 


:^) CHAPTER 5 

However, if you recently lost your job and weren』t prepared for it, 
don』t lose hope. It』s too easy to start conjuring up worst-case scenarios 
when you』re unemployed: 

I』ll have to sell the house and move into a smaller place. The 
kids won』t have enough money to pay for college. They』ll 
have to take out huge loans or stay home. My spouse will 
have to go back to work or take a second job. I』ll end up 
doing manual labor for entry-level wages. 

Then, my family will leave me and I』ll end up on welfare. I』ll 
have to start living out of my car, or move into a homeless 
shelter. Soon, I』ll become a skid-row derelict drinking my 
dinner from a bottle. I』ll end up just like that desperate guy 
in the suit who was standing at the expressway entrance the 
other day—the one with the sandwich board that read: 「I』ll 
take any job for $20,000 a year.」 

Such disaster fantasies won』t make you feel better and won』t help you 
out of a bad employment situation. What you need is a whole new 
mind-set and an action plan to sustain your career. This chapter gives 
the details on the actions I suggest. 

Do Good Work 

A first-rate engineer with an impressive education and strong professional 
credentials always met—or exceeded—his employer』s standards 
for excellence. His company, a health-care-equipment manufacturer in 
Niles, Illinois, consistently rewarded his achievements with raises, 
promotions, and challenging new assignments. So, when a two-year 
plan was announced to dismantle the manufacturing plant he called 
home, the engineer didn』t worry. He assumed they』d need him to help 
close down the place and then move him into another division. 

He was wrong. Within six weeks of the announcement, his name 
showed up on the very first list of job cuts. It wasn』t personal, and he 


ACHIEVING CAREER SECURITY IN TURBULENT TIMES :^) 

knew it. It was a straight business decision. His forte was improving 
the quality of the plant』s manufacturing process. That talent was completely 
unnecessary after the company decided to shut the plant. 
Hence, he got his walking papers. 

If a great performance record doesn』t guarantee you a place on the 
payroll, what』s the point of trying to do a good job? 

■ 
Because you』ll feel better about yourself if you have to enter the 
job market. You』ll know that the exigencies of business forced 
you out, not lackadaisical performance on your part. 
■ 
Because it will improve your marketable skills, even if you can』t 
use them with your current employer. 
■ 
Because it will remind others that it』s a pleasure to work with 
you. Then, if you』re laid off, co-workers are more likely to help 
you find something else. In other words, it will cement your network. 
■ 
And finally, because it will encourage your employer to find you 
another job within the organization if the company decides to 
downsize. 
In the engineer』s case, that』s exactly what happened. Even though he 
was among the first to be 「redeployed,」 he landed another position 
within the same company before his 60-day notice expired. 

Develop Marketable Skills 

Benjamin Barber, a political science professor at Rutgers University, 
once commented that the world could be divided into two categories: 
learners and nonlearners. Under the rules of the new employment 
game, learners will be clear winners. The engineer who was redeployed 
clearly is a learner. It helps that his work creates continuous 
opportunities for him to acquire and practice new skills. As a quality-
control expert with state-of-the-art knowledge, he』s developed competencies 
that his employer knows would be tough to duplicate. 


:^) CHAPTER 5 

Your job might not have that kind of challenge built into its daily routine. 
Rather than lament your fate, try seeking out formal training or 
volunteering for company projects that will allow you to enhance your 
skill set. 

For a 45-year-old plant manager with a suburban Chicago food manufacturer, 
this meant taking the time and initiative to enroll in an 
evening MBA program. It wasn』t always fun. He hadn』t set foot in a 
classroom in 25 years, and there were plenty of nights when he didn』t 
feel like studying or sitting in class after a hard day at work. Other 
days, he truly enjoyed the learning environment. It got his creative 
juices flowing again, which hadn』t happened at the plant for a long, 
long time. 

The manager had begun his master』s work because he knew he 
couldn』t afford to let his skills become obsolete. As it turns out, his 
advance planning paid off. Three years into the program, his company 
went through (yet another) reorganization. Offered an early-
retirement package, the plant manager took the money and ran. He 
used part of his severance package for tuition and completed his 
degree within a year. Then he decided to embark on a new career in 
marketing. Some people think he should』ve stayed with his old job 
because it was never directly threatened. But he has no regrets. 「The 
package was a sure thing,」 he says. 「My future there wasn』t, considering 
the way the company is headed. I feel better for taking the 
initiative instead of waiting for the next round of cuts. It』s the best 
thing I ever did. Now I can get on with my life.」 

Management guru Tom Peters would undoubtedly applaud this man』s 
strategy. Peters argues that we now live in a brain-based economy 
where 「education is economics and economics is education.」 The key 
to winning, he says, is to get and stay one step smarter than the next 
person—to make a commitment to 「school for life.」 He echoes the 
sentiments of H.G. Wells, who once said, 「The story of human survival 
is a race between education and catastrophe.」 


ACHIEVING CAREER SECURITY IN TURBULENT TIMES :^) 

Formal schooling isn』t the only way to expand your knowledge and 
expertise, however. Experience is also a great teacher. Organizations in 
flux offer endless opportunities for on-the-job learning. Too many 
people who work at such firms waste valuable time nursing their 
wounds and griping about their employers. It』s far wiser to contribute 
your talents wherever the company needs them. That way, you earn a 
reputation as a team player and gain valuable skills. 

Be Willing to Pitch In 

A personnel coordinator who aspired to human resource management 
saw her career track fizzle following a downsizing. After 14 years with 
a suburban L.A.–based food manufacturer, she was forced to accept a 
demotion. Her new role as an inventory control clerk taxed her 
patience more than her brainpower. 

Determined to make the most of a less-than-perfect situation, she set 
about trying to improve her qualifications and her standing with the 
company. To do so, she volunteered to produce a newsletter for the 
company』s total-quality-management initiative. This activity kept her 
from getting bored and increased her visibility in the company. 

She also improved her status with her boss by positioning herself to 
assume his supervisory responsibilities when he couldn』t be in the 
office. Taken together, these two steps kept her involved and growing 
for almost a year. But, as often happens in the real world, her diligence 
wasn』t rewarded with either a promotion or a raise. Still, she had the 
comfort of knowing that she』d developed a more marketable set of 
skills and could easily move elsewhere. 

Expect the Unexpected 

If you』re security-conscious, you probably like your work life orderly 
and predictable. Good luck. Ironically, the people most likely to keep 
their jobs these days are those who can operate comfortably in chaos. 
These professionals show the range and flexibility to do whatever is 
required. You can』t be all things to all people. You might, however, be 


:^) CHAPTER 5 

able to stretch yourself more than you realize and learn to enjoy the 
satisfactions that stem from overcoming a challenge. You』ll soon feel 
more secure knowing that you can manage organizational changes 
rather than cave into them. 

I was personally gratified to witness this transformation in one of my 
more resistant outplacement clients. A 42-year-old tax administrator, 
she』d spent her entire adult work life in the same department of the 
same Chicago bank. She liked her job, her boss, and the bank. But 
most of all, she liked her routine and would』ve been perfectly content 
to spend the rest of her career right where she was. 

You can probably guess the next part of the story. One morning, she 
arrived at work to learn the bank had decided to outsource its trust 
department to an accounting firm. Suddenly, there were a dozen unanchored 
tax pros roaming the bank』s corridors in search of new jobs. 

My client was a totally reliable employee, but she was also painfully 
shy. Despite her long years of service, she knew only a handful of her 
co-workers. When I told her that she needed to 「network」 with other 
bank employees to get resituated, she balked. In fact, my advice so 
upset her that she complained to her manager about me. But I don』t 
make the rules. It wasn』t my idea to make networking the number-one 
way people find jobs. I just pass the information along and try to help 
people become as effective at that process as possible. 

Fortunately, she finally got the message and, with her manager』s support, 
arranged an informational interview the very same day. She 
came back from that meeting a changed woman. Apparently, the person 
she met with had been so nice and supportive that she wondered 
why she』d ever objected to the process! Less than one week later, she 
landed another position within the bank that was suitable to her temperament 
and skills. In fact, she was the first person in her department 
to be rehired. She never thanked me for pushing her to network. But 
when she came to say goodbye, I could see she was truly delighted at 
her success and pleased with her new opportunity. As she left, I had to 


ACHIEVING CAREER SECURITY IN TURBULENT TIMES :^) 

laugh when she remarked, 「I know I should do more networking. But 
right now, I』d really like to take this new job.」 

Develop an Innovative Spirit 

Because employers are always seeking a competitive edge, they love 
having innovators on staff. Such professionals are seldom content 
with the status quo, so they』re constantly on the lookout for new ways 
to improve conditions. They also tend to turn an analytical and creative 
eye toward problems. 

Consider Kathy Reed, who realized early in her career that being a 
stockbroker didn』t suit her. According to an article in the Wall Street 
Journal, she longed to work for Xerox, but the company』s Dallas facility 
wouldn』t even hire her as a secretary. Undeterred, she called a local 
temporary agency and said she』d only accept assignments at Xerox. 
Within weeks, she landed a temp assignment there, and was soon 
offered a full-time secretarial position that allowed her to network her 
way up from the inside. 

Try to show creativity in your employment searches and on the job. If 
you devise a way to save your company money, improve customer 
relations, or develop a new revenue stream, you can be sure that 
you』re more than earning your keep. This doesn』t mean that your job 
will necessarily be spared when the ax falls. However, it will guarantee 
you a more impressive resume and a great set of problem-solving 
skills. 

Having good problem-solving skills should do a lot to enhance your 
peace of mind. After all, what is a job search if not a problem to be 
solved? 

Learn to Manage Risk 

It』s natural to want to feel comfortable and safe. But such an attitude 
can be hazardous in a technology-driven society where standing still 
often means falling behind. 


:^) CHAPTER 5 

Helen Keller once said, 「Security is mostly a superstition.…Avoiding 
danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either 
a daring adventure or nothing.」 Keller, as we all know, overcame 
some of the most devastating barriers imaginable to achieve great 
things in the world. Compared with her inspirational example, it』s 
shameful how wimpy and risk-averse so many of us have become. It 
might be scary to take some calculated risk with your future, but you 
might also be surprised by the zest it adds to your work life. 

A 25-year veteran of the Bell System learned this lesson well. Fresh out 
of engineering school at 22, he』d joined forces with the phone company 
as a field engineer in Chicago and stayed…and stayed…and stayed. 
Like many corporate Goliaths, the Bell System was once a bastion of 
stability where 「lifers」 traded a career』s worth of devoted service for 
guaranteed employment. 

No more. After divestiture, he was declared 「surplus」 or 「at risk」 on 
three different occasions. He always managed to save himself at the 
eleventh hour, but the uncertainty took an emotional toll. 

「I was clinging to my employer like a prisoner to his jail bars,」 he 
says. At age 47, he was eight years short of a full pension and, if he 
could help it, he wasn』t going anywhere without it. But eight years is 
a long time to spend hanging onto the edge of a lifeboat. He didn』t 
make it. Right after his 50th birthday, the company offered him a new 
package that made leaving more palatable. It cost him 25 percent of 
his pension to walk away. But, at his age, he figured it was a better 
alternative than staying. He no longer wanted to spend precious time 
passively waiting to leave—especially because there was no guarantee 
he could last another five years. 

「Ten years ago, it would have been heresy to say you wanted to leave 
Bell,」 he says. 「Today, it』s idiotic for someone like me to stay.」 It 
helped that he』d built a strong financial safety net through his 25 years 
of service. 「If I didn』t take the risk, I knew that I』d always regret the 
missed opportunity,」 he says. 「That seemed like a bigger risk than not 
trying.」 


ACHIEVING CAREER SECURITY IN TURBULENT TIMES :^) 

Once free, he gambled again—this time on a franchise operation. Last 
I heard from him, he and his two teenagers were happily dishing out 
yogurt to health-conscious customers. 

Risky? Perhaps. But because risk is inevitable, at least you can choose 
the kinds of chances you want to take. This Bell veteran loves the newfound 
feeling that he has more control over his own destiny. 

For the 45-and-over crowd, age might be the greatest deterrent to risk-
taking. With seemingly little margin for error, the consequences of 
making a mistake loom larger. Yet in reality, there might be as much 
risk in staying put as there is in leaving familiar ground. Expert job-
hunting skills can minimize some of the anxiety that comes from taking 
more employment chances. 

Know How to Job Hunt 

My friend』s apartment building has a new doorman. You can tell by 
his attitude that he thinks he』s too good for the job. 

Actually, he』s one of the worst doormen I ever met. He always makes 
it clear when he opens the door that he』s doing you a favor. Personally, 
I』d rather open the door myself than deal with his condescending attitude. 
Once he told me that he likes to punish tenants who aren』t nice 
to him. Unless they smile and say 「Good morning,」 he won』t open the 
door. 

He makes a point of telling people that he』s not a doorman by choice. 
He』s an engineer who』s stuck opening doors for people until he finds 
another real engineering job (I hope he finds one soon so the rest of us 
won』t have to suffer through his attitude much longer). 

For some reason, this guy brings out the worst in me. I know I should 
be more sympathetic to his plight: After all, I』m a career-development 
expert and this guy needs his career back big time. But he doesn』t 
make me want to help him. Nor am I alone. My friend doesn』t like 
him, either, and thinks he』s rude. 


:^) CHAPTER 5 

Actually, when I first heard about his situation, I felt sorry for him and 
offered to look over his resume. He rebuffed me. He』s sent out more 
than 300 resumes (and barely gotten any response), but he』s convinced 
the problem is his age and not his resume. Nobody wants a 53-yearold 
engineer, he says. 

Before you decry his victimization, however, I ask you to consider 
other possible reasons for his dilemma. 

First, his job search lacks meaningful focus. While he did make up a 
list of potential employers and send out a 「broadcast letter」 announcing 
his availability, he didn』t take the extra step it takes to make that 
strategy productive. He needs to know more about each company』s 
specific goals and explain in letters or networking interviews how he 
might be able to add value. 

For example, he』s multilingual. With a little extra effort, he could 
identify companies that are doing (or planning to do) business in 
Germany. At such firms, his German language skills could be useful. 

Also, he doesn』t individualize his letters in any way. He doesn』t 
bother to figure out which division of a company to target or who 
the likely hiring managers would be. He just shoots off a letter to 
anonymous personnel managers saying, 「I need a job.」 Nor does he 
follow up his correspondence with telephone calls to make sure it』s 
been received and read. He never makes it clear to employers that 
he』s a real-live person with a valuable contribution to make to an 
organization. 

Worst of all, this engineer-turned-doorman is ignoring the cardinal 
rule of job hunting: Network, network, network. Any job-search book 
will tell you that at least three-quarters of all positions are filled 
through networking or word-of-mouth. A candidate without a networking 
strategy eliminates 75 percent to 85 percent of potential 
employment opportunities a priori. That』s ignorance or stubbornness, 
not age discrimination. 

The truth is, this man』s attitude is his biggest problem. He seems to 
think the world owes him a living, and he』s mad at the people who are 


ACHIEVING CAREER SECURITY IN TURBULENT TIMES :^) 

giving him one for making him earn it. All the networking in the 
world won』t help if you turn potential contacts off with a sour-grapes 
disposition. 

I don』t care what age you are, this engineer』s search strategy won』t 
work for any professional these days. Like it or not, you simply have 
to go the extra mile to attract employers』 interest today. 

Savvy careerists know how to market themselves in an entrepreneurial 
way. They take stock of their marketable skills, research and identify 
employers who need those talents, and make every effort to let 
them know that (1) they want to work for the firm, and (2) they have 
something unique to offer. 

Like it or not, the rules have changed. You can get with the program 
or get left out in the cold. Your choice. 

You have to educate yourself for success in this employment market. 
If job hunting is unfamiliar territory, make the bookstore or library 
your first stop. Hundreds of books have been written that can help 
you improve your search skills. 

There』s also a burgeoning field of career and outplacement counselors 
who coach people on how to find jobs. If you get your walking papers, 
knowing how to access those resources and learn about the process is 
key to finding a new job. 

Feed Your Rolodex 

We all know the cliche: 「It』s who you know that counts.」 But if you 
aren』t very good at networking, you won』t want to believe it』s true. 
Actually, it』s even more complicated than that. 

「How about this for higher math?」 asks management guru and 
author Tom Peters. 「Security is proportional to (1) the thickness of 
your Rolodex; (2) the rate of Rolodex expansion; (3) the share of 
Rolodex entries from beyond the corporate walls; and (4) the time 
devoted to Rolodex maintenance.」 


:^) CHAPTER 5 

Let me try to explain Peters』 「art of Rolodexing」: 

■ 
The thickness of your Rolodex refers to the sheer number of people 
that you know—the more the better. Because no one』s job is 
safe anymore, it』s wise not to depend too much on any one person 
for your future. Cultivating a broad network of people who 
know and appreciate your work is one of the best forms of security 
you can create in this job market. 
■ 
The rate of Rolodex expansion implies that you should never feel 
you know enough people. New and important players are emerging 
in every field and industry all the time. If you want to know 
where the growth and opportunities are, you need to constantly 
add new contacts to your network—preferably before you ever 
want or need anything from them. 
■ 
The share of Rolodex entries from beyond the corporate walls 
means that having a diverse group of friends and acquaintances 
is also critical. If your network consists only of co-workers, you』ll 
be in trouble if your company ever goes belly-up. Try to meet 
professionals who work in other parts of your industry and/or 
those who have similar functions in other industries. 

Remember the quality engineer I mentioned earlier in this chapter? 
His job brought him into contact with many people both 
inside and outside his company. These colleagues liked him and 
respected his work. So, as soon as he learned his job was being 
eliminated, he thumbed through his phone directory and called 
crucial contacts to let them know what was happening. Vendors 
proved extremely helpful. Because they were out in the world 
soliciting business from competitors, they were able to provide 
him with a wealth of information and contacts. If you have a 
more isolated job, you can expand your horizons by participating 
actively in professional and trade associations. 

■ 
The time devoted to Rolodex maintenance. You know the drill: 
out of sight, out of mind. If you don』t keep up with your contacts, 

ACHIEVING CAREER SECURITY IN TURBULENT TIMES :^) 

Warning Signs That Your Job Might Be in Jeopardy 
1. Your boss has started treating you differently—but definitely not 
better. Your efforts don』t seem to be recognized or appreciated. 
2. Ditto for your subordinates, who have started to go around you 
(or over your head) when they have a complaint or need direc-
tion or information. 
3. You have a new boss who seems intent on finding fault with 
you. 
4. Your boss has a new boss. 
5. Your job is getting too big for one person to handle. It』s a setup 
for you to fail. 
6. Your job is getting smaller, and soon they may not need you at 
all. 
7. Your budget, expenses, and perks are getting slashed. The com-
pany may be hoping you』ll get overstressed and burn out. 
8. Your performance ratings are slipping, but you know your work 
has been fine. This is a surefire sign that the hand of office pol-
itics is operating. 
9. The company is going through a restructuring. 
10. Your company has been acquired or merged. 
they forget about you. Staying in touch takes some extra daily 
effort, but smart careerists do it. 

Once a week or so, I get a call from some colleague I haven』t seen 
in a while. Typically, the person just wants to find out what』s new 
with me or update me with some change in his or her situation. 
Sometimes, the caller shares an interesting bit of industry gossip. 
I appreciate this kind of initiative. No one makes it completely 
alone. It』s good to be included in the circle of Information—to 
know what』s happening. 


:^) CHAPTER 5 

While networking requires a higher level of social alertness and more 
concentrated energy, it doesn』t have to be drudgery. You just need to 
find ways to make it enjoyable. Try pairing it up with another activity 
like going to church, attending a lecture, or playing on a softball 
team. Shared activities make for shared friendships, and friends make 
pleasant networking partners. 

Some of it will still feel like work, particularly if your strategy includes 
returning to school for more education or taking on new responsibilities 
for which you』re not getting paid. Still, the effort will be worth it. 
Just remember that desperate man who has to resort to wearing a 
sandwich board that announces his bottom-line price. Where are his 
friends and contacts now? Where are the people who know his work 
and appreciate it? Why is he forced to announce his plight to a million 
harried commuters? 

Or consider the doorman who makes himself believe that his age is his 
problem and not his personality. Is this an attitude that would make 
you feel better about yourself? 

Think about it: Wouldn』t you rather be eating dinner with colleagues 
at a monthly meeting of your professional association? Wouldn』t you 
rather be building both competence and goodwill? Or would you 
rather wait and take your chances on the 「kindness of strangers」? 

It』s been nearly 40 years since William Whyte wrote his classic, The 
Organization Man (1956, Simon & Schuster), in which he warned 
that rigid hierarchical corporate structures would stifle initiative and 
breed stultifying conformity. 

If you』ve lived in that world a long time, you may find it hard to 
accept that it』s a whole new ballgame now. For organizations, and the 
people who staff and manage them, the only real security lies in the 
ability to grow, change, and adapt. You can fight this new reality. Or 
you can celebrate your liberation. 


ACHIEVING CAREER SECURITY IN TURBULENT TIMES :^) 

(continues) 
109 
Achieving Career Security in Turbulent Times 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being least secure and 10 most 
secure, how secure is your job? 
2. Is your job more secure or less secure than it was five years 
ago? Ten years ago? Last year? 
3. Looking toward the future, do you think you』ll still have your job 
next year? Five years from now? Ten years from now? 
4. If your job security is diminishing, what can you do to make 
yourself feel more secure? 
5. Do you have an aggressive investment strategy? 
6. If you don』t have a good investment strategy, have you con-
sulted with a financial planner? 

:^) 
CHAPTER 5 

(continued) 

7. Do you consider yourself marketable? 
8. If your skills aren』t marketable, what can you do (or are you currently 
doing) to upgrade them? 
9. Do you think you』re too old to go to school? If so, why? 
10. Do you fear age discrimination? 
11. 
Which of the following 「age-discrimination fighters」 should be 
part of your plan: 
. Dyeing your hair? 
. Increasing your energy with exercise and healthy eating? 
. Updating your skills? 
. Fixing your attitude? 
. Networking with friends? 
. Expanding your network? 
. Perfecting your job search skills? 
12. 
Do you know how to conduct an effective job search? 
110 



ACHIEVING CAREER SECURITY IN TURBULENT TIMES :^) 

13. 
If your resume is outdated, can you start revising it now? 
14. How strong is your network? 
15. If your network is too limited, how can you begin to expand 
your contact base now? 
16. Does self-employment interest you? 
17. What do you see as the obstacles to self-employment? 
18. 
Have you asked others who have made the transition to self-
employment how they accomplished their goals? If not, why 
not? 
19. Do you consider yourself employable? 
(continues) 

111 


:^) CHAPTER 5 

(continued) 

20. What can you do now to improve your employability? 
21. Do you consider yourself an aggressive person? 
22. Are you being too passive about your future? 
112 



CHAPTER 6 


How to Love the Job You Hate 


Labor without joy is base. 

—John Ruskin 

I
I
n the Disney classic, Snow White and the 
Seven Dwarfs, Snow White is a hard-working 
girl with too much to do. But this didn』t stop 

her—and her forest animal friends—from whistling while they 
worked. In the process, they became role models (of sorts) for a generation 
of Americans. 

Unfortunately, most of us prefer to grumble and be unhappy. (One 
survey found that four out of five working Americans were dissatisfied 
with their jobs.) It』s a misery that knows no boundaries. No age, race, 
or group is exempt. It doesn』t matter if you』re a college graduate or a 
high school dropout. A man or a woman. A doctor, a manager, or a 
grocery-store clerk. Too many employees aren』t having much fun. 

But whether your complaint is a bad boss, too much bureaucracy, 
office politics, boring work, or all of the above, you don』t have to suffer 
in silence (or not so silently). You can take steps to improve your 
situation, even if you can』t afford to leave. Once you begin intervening 
on your own behalf, you』ll start feeling less like a victim of circumstance 
and more like a professional with influence and control 
over your own destiny. The following strategies should help move 
your thinking in the right direction. 


:^) CHAPTER 6 

Strategy 1: Stop Watching the Clock 

The hands on the clock tend to move more slowly when you watch 
them. Boredom is stultifying. Rather than kill time and wait for the 
day to end, your challenge is to find ways to get more involved—to 
enlarge your job without merely adding more work. The key is to 
think qualitatively, not quantitatively. Not more, but better. 

How? For starters, keep your eyes and ears open for new projects that 
interest you. Or, better yet, invent a project that solves an organizational 
problem and gets your juices going. 

A retail store manager used her company』s national sales meeting to 
get a better handle on what was going on throughout the company. 
Because her interests were advertising and marketing, she focused 
extra attention on talking with people from those departments to 
learn more about their needs and goals. When she learned they wanted 
to investigate the home shopping market, she volunteered to do the 
research. This gave her a chance to study an interesting new trend, 
demonstrate her creativity and initiative, showcase her research and 
writing skills, and establish contacts with the right people. And, 
should the company decide to move ahead with the idea, she』s also 
positioned herself to be a part of it. 

This required the manager to do some extra work. But because she 
hopes to use the new knowledge to make a job change within the company, 
she considers the effort worth it. Some doors might now open 
that were previously closed. 

In general, try to take a synergistic approach that involves other people 
in healthy and productive ways, recommends psychologist Laurie 
Anderson in Oak Park, Illinois. For example, if you need to free up 
your schedule to make room for new duties, try delegating tedious 
responsibilities to an employee who』d appreciate them. 

「What』s boring to you may be developmental to someone else,」 
Anderson says. 「Try looking for someone in the organization who』d 
like to learn the things that no longer interest you.」 


HOW TO LOVE THE JOB YOU HATE :^) 

Anderson tells the story of a staffing professional who was burned out 
on recruitment and a trainer who』d overdosed on training. The two 
split their jobs in half and traded responsibilities so that both could 
enjoy new growth. The staffing professional was surprised to find how 
much she liked training. In fact, she liked it so much that she decided 
to become a trainer full time—a career direction she』d never anticipated. 


Developing creative, synergistic solutions not only moves you out of a 
stuck position, it also enables you to build stronger alliances through 
shared responsibilities. 

Strategy 2: Learn to Take a Compliment 

It always feels good to know that you and the work you do are appreciated 
by others. Unfortunately, compliments tend to be few and far 
between, whereas criticism is never in short supply. 

Why is there such a discrepancy? A president of a well-known commercial 
bank notes, 「Every time I tell someone they』re doing a good 
job, they ask me for more money. Then they end up getting mad when 
I tell them I can』t give them a raise right now.」 

The president is caught in a classic Catch-22. No matter what he does, 
he』ll be the bad guy—either for not noticing and praising employees』 
work or for praising it without simultaneously reaching into the company 
coffers for more funds. Unless he starts handing out raises and 
bonuses along with his compliments, he can』t win. 

The same no-win situation tends to surround performance appraisals. 
Many managers are reluctant to overpraise their subordinates because 
of the money demands that inevitably follow. As one shipping supervisor 
complained, 「If I』m doing such a great job, how come I only got 
a three-percent raise?」 

There are two sides to every story. Managers should praise people 
for a job well done, even if they aren』t planning to follow up with 


:^) CHAPTER 6 

financial rewards. Meanwhile, employees should learn how to accept 
compliments for what they are: a show of appreciation. 

Unhook the compliment from the salary demand so that you can feel 
good about the praise rather than angry about the money. As a professional, 
you can』t think like an hourly employee who gets something 
extra for every bit of extra effort. That was a hard line to draw for a 
successful litigation attorney who left the 「fast track」 for the 
「mommy track」 when her third child was born. 

As a partner, she』d shared equity in the firm』s profits. On the mommy 
track, she remained a partner in name, but was paid an hourly consulting 
fee instead. In the sixth year of that arrangement, she took on 
a big case that demanded more than her usual three-day workweek. 
She pitched in willingly because her kids were in school all day, and 
achieved an outstanding result. 

Her partners were so thrilled, they celebrated with a champagne 
lunch, toasted her accomplishments, and praised her abilities to the 
skies. Within weeks of the verdict, she decided to renegotiate her deal. 
If she was going to work as hard as the partners, she wanted her equity 
partnership reinstated. The partners listened, acknowledged her 
accomplishment, and questioned whether she was ready to commit 
once again to a full-time partnership. When she balked, they balked. 
Finally, they compromised by increasing her hourly consulting fee. 
Although better than nothing, the outcome didn』t please her. 「What』s 
the point of knocking myself out for these guys, when no one appreciates 
my contribution?」 she grumbled. 

After this response, you can be sure the partners won』t be so lavish 
with their praise next time around. 

Strategy 3: Pat Yourself on the Back 
(Occasionally) 

Perhaps you』d consider it a luxury to have someone at work say, 
「Thank you. Good job,」 once in a while. If so, you』re not alone. 


HOW TO LOVE THE JOB YOU HATE :^) 

Many people feel their work is taken for granted. Certainly, colleagues 
and bosses can be competitive, and some customers are a royal pain 
in the you-know-where. But although those people might not be handing 
out recognition awards on your behalf, you can still feel good 
about yourself if you recognize and acknowledge your own strengths 
and achievements. 

Despite the common complaint that egotistical braggarts with inflated 
notions of their own potential fill the workforce, the reverse is 
often true. Personally, I』ve seen hundreds of self-critical people who 
constantly undervalue their own abilities and sell themselves short. 
Because they』re so hard on themselves, they need more praise and 
approval from others than often is forthcoming. The result, inevitably, 
is some kind of hostile dependency on the person (often a boss) perceived 
to be withholding. In fact, however, the problem is that the person 
is withholding praise from him- or herself. 

To get out of such a rut, one competent trainer realized she needed a 
more objective way to evaluate her own capabilities. So she』d read and 
reread her seminar evaluations from customers, in which she was routinely 
praised for her patience, good humor, and informative style. 
Whenever she felt bad about herself, the evaluations would remind her 
that she truly was a good and competent person. 

Another demoralized marketing manager (who was relegated to the 
gulags during a corporate reorganization) put her abilities in perspective 
by compiling a portfolio that showcased her greatest achievements. 
She included newspaper articles describing some of her more 
successful ventures, and some glowing letters of recommendation 
from managers and colleagues. Then, she consolidated that information 
into an impressive resume. Although she knew it might be a year 
or more before she』d actively job hunt, putting those documents 
together was very reparative. Whenever she felt isolated in her role, 
she used the material as a professional mirror that reflected her real 
skills and accomplishments. 


:^) CHAPTER 6 

Other professionals call attention to their successes through internal 
memos and letters. A savvy public relations professional wrote thank-
you notes to everyone who』d helped him accomplish his publicity 
goals, and sent copies of the letters to his manager. Although this strategy 
took time out from an already busy calendar, it made everyone 
who worked with him feel good about their contributions while highlighting 
the PR man』s leadership and organizational skills. While patting 
others on the back, he was subtly praising himself as well—a tactic 
you could call 「enlightened self-interest.」 

Strategy 4: Take Criticism for What It』s 
Worth 

Just because someone says you』re a bad person doesn』t mean you』re a 
jerk. It just means that someone doesn』t like you. Although being disliked 
might be painful to tolerate, it』s not a reflection of your self-
worth. Personality conflicts make for hostile confrontations that are 
hurtful to everyone involved. Worse, the insults that get hurled at you 
tend to linger in your mind for years. 

A 30-year-old journalist still remembers how humiliated she felt when 
a manager called her 「immature and childish」—even though she was 
only 23 at the time. To this day, whenever she recalls the incident, the 
remark brings tears to her eyes and she lashes out in fury. 

Recognize a battle of egos for what it is—unhealthy competition—and 
try, if possible, to recast the controversy into more neutral and professional 
waters. For example, a computer programmer who was told 
he was a snob asked for specific examples of incidents when he』d 
intentionally made his accuser feel inferior. After hearing one example, 
the programmer realized that a gesture of distaste he』d made about an 
assignment had been misconstrued by his co-worker as a personal 
insult. Once the misunderstanding was cleared up, the two felt much 
less resentful of each other. Asking for specific examples of your supposedly 
noxious behavior can help you gain insight into the true 


HOW TO LOVE THE JOB YOU HATE :^) 

nature of the criticism that』s been leveled at you—as long as you』re 
truly open to what the data means. 

Most people don』t know how to give constructive criticism or receive 
it. In general, the more you respect others』 talents and feelings, the 
more likely you』ll be to couch your criticism in useful language. On 
the other side of the table, the more confident and self-aware you are, 
the more likely you』ll be able to hear and evaluate the criticism fairly. 

To become more effective at handling criticism constructively, keep 
the following guidelines in mind: 

■ 
Don』t assume the other person is right or wrong. Obtain more 
than one point of view to determine its accuracy. 
■ 
Try not to be defensive. Ask yourself: Is there any truth to what 
this person is saying? 
■ 
Accept responsibility for fixing what needs fixing. 
■ 
Even if your feelings are hurt, don』t harbor a grudge against the 
giver. It will only poison your relationship. 
Strategy 5: View Politics as a Challenge 

The worst workplace atrocities take place in the name of 「office politics.」 
Usually, the term is applied to the ugly underbelly of group life. 
It refers to the manipulative and mean-spirited ways people backstab 
or 「kiss up to」 each other in the effort to get ahead. 

Office politics can make for rotten bedfellows: greedy, conniving, 
manipulative bedfellows. And if you』re like many, you don』t want anything 
to do with that nasty scene. You』d rather sit in the corner of the 
lunchroom alone with your nose buried in the newspaper. Or stay in 
your office with the door closed, burrowed in a stack of reports and 
memos. 

You can hide behind the mountains of paperwork on your desk, but 
there』s nowhere to go. You』re trapped. While others are gossiping at 
the water cooler or walking arm-in-arm to the local bar (deeply 


:^) CHAPTER 6 

engrossed in conversation), you』re turning into a sullen, isolated person 
who』s always the last to learn about things you need to know. 

Invisibility has its price. People know you sit in judgment of them and, 
guess what, they』re not going to let you get in the way of their goals. 
What』s more, you can』t achieve success entirely on your own. Sure, 
Paul Simon wanted to believe, 「I am a rock. I am an island.」 But did 
you happen to notice Art Garfunkel on backup making him look 
good? 

The term 「office politics」 has such a bad connotation that you might 
well forget it altogether. Because it』s good for your career to get along 
with co-workers, why not call it 「social intelligence」 instead? Start 
viewing 「politics」 as the developmental challenge of getting along 
with difficult people. 

「Most people aren』t political enough,」 says Mike Murphy of the 
Signet Group, an outplacement firm in Chicago. 「They want to bury 
their heads in the sand and hope the problem will go away. They don』t 
realize you can』t solve a problem by ignoring it.」 

Using a Conflict to Get Ahead 

Two senior managers had trouble getting along, which was creating 
problems for their subordinates as well as the VP who supervised 
them. In a particularly astute political move, one manager decided to 
find ways to relate better to her (more volatile) colleague. She shared 
this goal with the VP, and together they brainstormed the possibilities. 

By demonstrating the initiative to solve the problem and further her 
boss』s agenda, this savvy manager turned an interpersonal conflict 
into an opportunity to improve her team-playing skills and strengthen 
her alliance with higher-ups. Meanwhile, the other manager began 
looking like a difficult, irrational person to work with. 

For the manager who made the extra effort, there are two immediate 
payoffs. First, she』s no longer a passive victim of her co-worker』s 
moodiness. Second, her boss is now more likely to cooperate with her 


HOW TO LOVE THE JOB YOU HATE :^) 

when incidents arise. There are long-term benefits, too. Down the 
road, she』s likely to be viewed (and to view herself) as a team player 
who keeps her cool under pressure. Of the two, who would you recommend 
for a promotion? 

The moral of the story: The next time some irrational but highly ambitious 
co-worker gets under your skin, experiment with creative ways 
to use the experience to your professional advantage. In other words, 
find a way to get even by getting ahead. Although this can be a real 
test of interpersonal skill, it』s worth the effort. When office animosities 
run high, careers get sabotaged. Hostilities escalate. And you can 
end up dreading every minute in the office. 

As long as you』re committed to staying, you』ll have to find a way to 
fit in with the people you must work with. I』m not talking best buddies 
here—just cordial working relationships. The alliances you form 
should enhance your career goals and satisfaction; otherwise, there』s 
no point in forming them. Rather than lament the politics, you need a 
rational strategy for working with difficult people. Ranting and raving 
won』t work. Neither will silent suffering (「poor me」 makes you 
look more pitiful than powerful). Is it really so gratifying to play the 
victim? Wouldn』t you rather try a stronger, more assertive role? 

Reaching Out 

A sales representative for an office-equipment company hated the all-
male team on which she was expected to play. She considered her coworkers 
loud, crass, and ignorant. She wanted no part of what she 
considered their 「male posturing」 and was determined to 「put them 
in their place.」 

For her, it was both feminist pride and personal preference. Rather 
than join into what she called their 「macho boys club,」 she refused all 
invitations to lunch or after-work drinks, telling her husband: 「I』d 
rather eat lunch with a pig. You have no idea how gross those guys 
are.」 


:^) CHAPTER 6 

It didn』t take long for her co-workers to get the message. They might 
have been gross, but they weren』t stupid. To say she didn』t 「fit in」 
would be putting her case mildly. It was almost as if she didn』t work 
there. During weekly staff meetings, all conversation would stop when 
she walked into the room. There were lots of occasional glances in her 
direction, but no one ever addressed her directly. And, when she did 
speak up, her comments would be met with complete silence. It was 
eerie and intimidating. 

Yet she was an excellent sales rep and, much to her surprise, she had 
been turning in the best sales performance of her life. Her husband 
suspected that her desire to show her coworkers up was behind the 
achievement. When word got out, funny things started to happen. A 
decision was made, for example, to reorganize sales territories. When 
the new assignments were handed out, she saw immediately that she 
had a smaller piece of the pie. When she complained to her sales manager, 
she was told: 「You』re not a team player. The better territories are 
reserved for the team players.」 She protested vehemently. Obviously, 
she』d already proved that she could handle a larger region. She』d 
earned and deserved a better assignment, not a smaller one. 

The manager was firm: 「This is a company that values team play. We 
don』t want to send a message that we value individual effort more 
than the group. You have to learn how to play on the team.」 

Rather than leave (which she surely would』ve been justified in doing), 
the sales rep decided to become more involved with her group. After 
all, she reasoned, there are going to be politics everywhere. How did 
she do it? She didn』t turn herself into a cheerleader overnight—or ever. 
That would』ve been too much. Instead, she singled out the person 
who』d taken over a piece of her territory and made a goodwill gesture 
by inviting him to lunch to discuss some of the accounts. He looked 
surprised, but agreed. During the meeting, she was sincere and helpful. 
He seemed to appreciate her comments. 

Over the next few weeks, she went out of her way to ask how he was 
doing with various accounts, and he gave her informal updates on his 


HOW TO LOVE THE JOB YOU HATE :^) 

progress. At one point, he even asked her advice about dealing with 
one of her more loyal customers who was unhappy with the change of 
reps. She offered to make a sales call with him to help smooth the customer』s 
anxieties. He accepted. The call went smoothly. Afterward, he 
bought her lunch and thanked her for her efforts. Away from the 
group, she found him perfectly acceptable and, at times, even nice. 
They』d never be close, but it was obvious they could work together. 

Her efforts didn』t go unnoticed by the rest of the team. Gradually, they 
started speaking to her more cordially: a simple 「how are ya」 in the 
morning without the usual bravado, an occasional sharing of information 
and, in general, a more relaxed atmosphere at office meetings. 
Unfortunately, the sales rep』s strategy only half worked. In the process 
of gaining greater acceptance from team members, she lost some 
momentum. Her numbers never reached the same peak levels again. 
She can』t figure out whether the problem is related to her territory or 
the fact that she lost her drive to show the guys up. 

Office politics are about power and competition. Making them 
work for you—rather than against you—takes a healthy dose of self-
assertion and adaptability. When German philosopher Friedrich 
Nietzsche said, 「Join power with love,」 he wasn』t talking about sleeping 
your way to the top. He meant using power to do good. 

Rather than eschew power (because you associate it with violence), 
you should seek it out and embrace it. After all, isn』t it better for 
someone like you to have the power to do good? Or would you rather 
leave it in the hands of all those greedy, unethical people you detest? 
Just because you dislike the connivers』 methods doesn』t mean you 
have to let them win. 

Strategy 6: Build Positive Relationships 

Positive office politics isn』t only about mending fences with workplace 
enemies. It also involves creating alliances with people who can help 
you. To increase your feeling of belonging and develop closer 


:^) CHAPTER 6 

relationships within your company, consider taking some of the following 
steps: 

1. Sign up for courses that will improve your communication, team 
play, and leadership skills. Then try out what you learn on the 
people who make your life most miserable. Practice until you get 
it right. 
2. Seek out assignments that enable you to work with a variety of 
colleagues, rather than the same old few you always get stuck 
with. This will improve your people skills, broaden your visibility, 
and revitalize your workday. 「Even if you』re still working in 
the same company, it can be very energizing to work with new 
people,」 says Anderson. 
3. Request assignments with people you genuinely like. After hanging 
out with them a while, you』re sure to feel better about yourself 
and your company. 
4. Volunteer for a committee that』s working on an interesting issue 
or project so that you can develop an internal community of colleagues 
with shared interests and values. 
5. When you have the time and energy, pitch in to help others who 
are on 「job overload.」 You』ll build a reputation as a team player 
and develop a supportive network to help you out should the 
favor ever need to be returned. 
6. Give credit where credit is due. Rather than try to steal the limelight 
for yourself, share it with others. People will feel better 
about working for and with you. 
7. Be on the lookout for little ways you can foster cooperation 
instead of conflict. When others sense your attitude, they might 
mellow, too. 
8. Don』t harbor grudges. They build ill will and give you ulcers. 
Chronic anger is a symptom of a serious emotional problem. It 
has a way of catching up with people who hold onto it too long. 

HOW TO LOVE THE JOB YOU HATE :^) 

Strategy 7: Stay Positive 

Hate is not a productive emotion. It clouds your vision, distorts your 
judgment, and makes you resent everything and everyone. Hatred kills 
the spirit and paralyzes you with bitterness. A prominent psychiatrist 
once commented: 「Some of the most self-destructive acts take place in 
the name of revenge.」 

Consider, for example, a compensation and benefits manager who was 
furious with her boss, the senior VP of human resources, for 「playing 
favorites」 with another manager. The senior VP vehemently denied 
this was the case, but she refused to believe him. Instead, she went 
behind his back—and over his head—to complain about him. Because 
of the man』s outstanding reputation with his superiors, all she managed 
to do was call attention to the conflict and soil her own standing 
in the company. 

When your emotions are out of control at work, it』s always a good 
idea to take some time to cool down before trying to resolve whatever』s 
bugging you. Accusations made in anger are usually unprofessional, 
inappropriate, and counterproductive. Once said, they can 
never be taken back and are seldom forgotten. In the heat of the 
moment, strong feelings can convert small flare-ups into enduring animosities 
that can destroy a career. 

Rather than go into an emotional tailspin, try (if possible) to develop 
more of a rational problem-solving approach. For example, the senior 
VP who』d supposedly been giving preferential treatment realized that 
the problem was destroying his division』s morale. To remedy the situation, 
he hired a consultant to work with his group to develop better 
communication and team skills. 

Strategy 8: Take Responsibility for Your 
Own Happiness 

If you want to be happier at work, you have to accept responsibility 
for your own happiness. How? By knowing what you can and can』t 


:^) CHAPTER 6 

change. This means evaluating the sources of your dissatisfaction to 
determine where you can expand your sphere of influence. Often, you 
can do more than you realize. Because unhappiness (like happiness) is 
a feeling rather than an objective state of being, you can almost always 
improve your satisfaction level just by thinking different thoughts. 
Instead of seeing what』s wrong and bad all the time, train your eye to 
see the positive aspects of a person or situation. Even if the facts never 
change, you』ll feel better. 

Knowing what you can change and how to do so is an important key 
to career satisfaction. On the flip side, it also helps to know what 
things lie outside your sphere of influence and accept that reality, too. 

If you feel lonely at work, make a concerted effort to become more 
accessible. Develop a list of 「social goals」 that increase your opportunities 
for communication and participation. The steps you take 
should include the following: 

1. Volunteer for committees, projects, or task forces that will allow 
you to work with a variety of people. 
2. Ask to serve as a liaison between departments or divisions. 
3. Request customer service and/or vendor/supplier relations 
responsibilities. 
4. Make a point of smiling and saying 「good morning」 to everyone 
you see on your way in the door. 
5. Go out to lunch with your colleagues. Don』t eat at your desk. 
6. Participate in occasional after-work gatherings. 
7. Go to company outings such as annual picnics, golf excursions, 
and Christmas parties. 
8. Carpool to work. 
9. Devote time each day to discussing nonwork activities. 

HOW TO LOVE THE JOB YOU HATE :^) 

10. Don』t complain about your workload, job activities, boss, or coworkers. 
Dwelling on your problems will only make you more 
unhappy. 
11. Praise others』 work. You』ll make the people you laud and yourself 
feel good. 
12. Make friends with positive people. Avoid perpetual naysayers. 
13. Don』t participate in mean-spirited gossip. 
14. Add the simple phrase, 「Thank you,」 to your everyday vocabulary. 
A little appreciation can go a long way. 
Strategy 9: Don』t Confuse Your Job 
with Your Life 

You might not like your job, but it doesn』t have to ruin your life. Even 
if you aren』t free to leave, you can always find ways to improve your 
situation. 

Sometimes, the only thing you can really change is your attitude. You 
might have to work hard, on occasion, to maintain a sense of humor. 
But have some fun, even if you don』t always feel like laughing. By 
lightening things up, you make your workday more enjoyable. And 
when the 9-to-5 part of your life goes more smoothly, it tends to make 
your nightlife better, too. 

Every negative has a potential positive: 

■ 
If you』re bored with your job, you』ll have more energy and enthusiasm 
for the things you do after work, including hobbies, family 
outings, and community activities. 
■ 
If you don』t like the people you work with, it』ll make you more 
appreciative of the time you spend with others. 
■ 
If office politics are down-and-dirty, what better time to develop 
some political savvy? You might not like the struggle, but at least 
you can find something positive in it for you. 

:^) CHAPTER 6 

Strategy 10: Have a Plan to Get Out 

If you hate your job, you should develop a blueprint for leaving, even 
if you can』t implement it immediately. When you know you』re actively 
engaged in creating alternatives, you can put your current situation 
into a larger context that makes it more tolerable. 

「It helps to know that even though you aren』t happy now, you won』t 
have to be unhappy forever,」 says Laurie Anderson. 「It』s just a question 
of negotiating the timing.」 

How to Love the Job You Hate 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. What do you hate most about your job? 
2. Do you hate your company』s management practices? 
3. If so, how would you like to see them changed? 
4. Is there any way you can influence management policies 
more? 

HOW TO LOVE THE JOB YOU HATE :^) 

5. Do you hate your boss? If so, why? 
6. What can you do to improve that relationship? 
7. Have you tried to understand your boss』s point of view? 
8. If you and your boss are destined not to get along, how much 
does this affect your peace of mind on a day-to-day basis? 
9. Is there another department or division you can transfer to? 
10. Do you have enough information and contacts throughout the 
company to transfer into another area? 
11. Is your upward mobility stymied? 
12. Are there any skills, experiences, or horizontal moves you can 
obtain to get unstuck? 

(continues) 


:^) 
CHAPTER 6 

(continued) 

13. How do you feel about your co-workers? 
14. 
Can you honestly say that you』ve made a concerted effort to 
get along with the people you work with—even if you don』t like 
them? 
15. Do you consider yourself a competitive person? 
16. Does your ambition ever get in the way of cooperation (be honest)? 
17. Are you bored with your job responsibilities? If so, can you 
identify or initiate new activities that』d be more stimulating? 

18. Is your paycheck the problem? 
19. Can you negotiate bonuses or variable-rate increases based on 
your performance? 
20. Can you think of any other ways to make your work day and/or 
environment more satisfying? 

130 



HOW TO LOVE THE JOB YOU HATE :^) 

21. 
If you』re committed to staying in a job you dislike, how hard are 
you really trying to make it better? 
22. Have you gotten used to being miserable? 
23. Can you try harder to be happy? 

CHAPTER 7 


Layoff Survivors』 Dilemma: 
Put Up or Shut Up 

Wherein our hero asks 「What in the world am I doing here?」 

—Laurence G. Boldt, Zen and the Art of Making a Living 

W
W
hen his employer decided to downsize 
its workforce (yet again), a purchasing 
agent was given five minutes to say 

「yea」 or 「nay」 to doubling his workload and keeping his job. With a 
ton of debts and two small children at home depending on him, he 
didn』t see much of a choice—just one gigantic burden. So instead of 
walking out the door with the rest of his co-workers, the purchasing 
agent reluctantly replied 「yes.」 He doesn』t feel the least bit grateful for 
the opportunity to keep his position. On the contrary, he』s frustrated, 
mad, and resentful about being forced to do twice the work for the 
same amount of money. 

The marketing director for a television station feels the same way. She 
lost half her staff to layoffs, and her workload tripled overnight. 
Although she doesn』t feel she has the luxury to quit, she doesn』t have 
the heart to do the work, either. 

It doesn』t help that both these professionals also feel they no longer 
have a voice in what happens in their departments. Such an outlook 
can wreak havoc on your motivation. A once-energetic and enthusiastic 
manager can easily become the classic employee who shows up to 
collect a paycheck but doesn』t want to do the work. 


:^) CHAPTER 7 

Those who do survive 「the ax」 often feel conflicted. It』s called 「survivor 
syndrome.」 Psychologists often look for it in people who survive 
disasters such as car or plane wrecks. Now it』s afflicting workplace 
survivors, as well. Although the obvious victims of layoffs are obviously 
the poor souls who lose their jobs, layoffs can also have a 
devastating psychological and emotional impact on the surviving 
employees, too. 

「On the one hand you』re happy to be alive, a positive emotion,」 says 
Columbia Business School professor Joel Brockner, a leading expert 
on corporate survivor syndrome. 「But it』s sprinkled in with a heavy 
dose of negative emotion: 『Maybe it』s not over.』 『It could happen to 
me.』」 

Anxiety Rules 

Playing musical chairs probably made you anxious when you were a 
kid. It』s 10 times worse now, when the last chair represents a spot 
on your employer』s payroll. Most surviving employees express 
overwhelmingly negative feelings about the changes that occur in the 
wake of a downsizing. As Groucho Marx said, 「Whatever it is, I』m 
against it!」 

David Noer, vice president of training and education for the Center 
for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina, and author of 
Healing the Wounds (1995, Jossey-Bass), uses a metaphor of surviving 
children to illustrate the conflicts experienced by employees who 
remain in a downsized work force. 

Imagine a family that』s been together for a long time. The loving parents 
and well-behaved children live in a nurturing, trusting environment. 
Then, one morning at breakfast, the mother makes an 
announcement. After reviewing the family budget, she and the father 
have come to realize that they can』t afford to feed and clothe all four 
of their children. Two of them will have to go. Nothing personal, the 
father explains. They still love their kids. They just can』t afford them 
anymore. 


LAYOFF SURVIVORS』 DILEMMA: PUT UP OR SHUT UP :^) 

The next morning at breakfast, two of the chairs have been removed 
from the table. All evidence of the two missing children is gone. No 
one says a word about their absence, and any feelings either the parents 
or the kids have about their absence go unspoken. The parents 
stress to their remaining children that they should be grateful to be 
able to stay in the family. To show their appreciation, the children will 
be expected to take on additional chores that their siblings used to do. 
The parents assure the kids that this will make them a closer family. 

What do you think the children who are left behind are feeling? 
Sadness at having lost their siblings? Guilt over being allowed to stay 
in the family? Anger at their parents for changing the rules midstream? 
Anxiety and panic over their own future? Or perhaps they feel nothing 
at all because it』s too dangerous to feel. 

Similarly, survivors of downsized organizations often feel depressed, 
paranoid, angry, numb, and betrayed. Couple that with reduced commitment, 
risk-taking, and spontaneity and you have the formula for 
what Noer terms, 「Layoff Survivor Sickness」—a paralyzing condition 
caused by the profound shift in the psychological employment contract 
between individuals and organizations. 

You can point the finger of blame at your employer, but it won』t help 
much. Most layoffs are an inevitable consequence of new social and 
economic forces, not organizational malice and incompetence. And 
although many organizations bungle the layoff process badly, you 
must accept the responsibility for managing your own career amid the 
chaos if you choose to stay with the company. 

Get in Touch with Your Emotions 

「After a downsizing, the environment can be like emotional quicksand,」 
says Englewood, Colorado, career counselor Linda Bougie. 
「There』s a real loss of control, like everything that』s happening is out 
of your hands.」 


:^) CHAPTER 7 

Maureen Gold, the director of Baxter Healthcare Corporation』s career 
center in Deerfield, Illinois, agrees: 「When an organization is going 
through a lot of change, it』s harder for people to take control of their 
careers because the overwhelming message is that you don』t have 
control.」 

Your first goal should be to take stock of your feelings and, if necessary, 
make some positive deposits into your emotional bank account. 
How can you do this? Synergies are hard to achieve when your company 
is downsizing. Knowing that, your goal is to rebuild damaged 
relationships and forge new alliances with people in the organization 
you still esteem and trust. Says Gold: 「People you respect can be energy 
sources that keep you motivated.」 

Although you might feel compelled to avoid mentioning the layoffs 
when talking with colleagues, emotional honesty can go a long way in 
an anxiety-ridden environment. On the other hand, unexpressed fears 
and feelings tend to gain power and momentum, sabotaging relationships 
and paralyzing productivity. 

If you』re a manager, you can help interrupt that cycle, and it won』t 
cost the company a thing. Simply encourage your people to express 
their feelings and fears openly. But don』t react negatively to what they 
say. Also, let them know that what they』re experiencing is perfectly 
natural under the circumstances. Talking about your own feelings can 
establish a healthy atmosphere for discussion. One senior manager 
was able to reconnect effectively with his staff this way. 「Believe me,」 
he told them sincerely, 「I feel as bad about this as you do.」 

Similarly, an operations manager called a meeting in which all of his 
remaining group members were encouraged to vent feelings and discuss 
personal reactions to the layoffs. Noer says such 「leading from 
the heart」 is critical to the recovery and success of downsized organizations. 


If you aren』t an executive, you can still improve your situation by 
encouraging your boss to open up the lines of feelings and communication. 
Rather than wait like a powerless child to see what your crazy 


LAYOFF SURVIVORS』 DILEMMA: PUT UP OR SHUT UP :^) 

company is going to foist on you next, why not find your own voice 
and message amidst the confusion? 

Think about those metaphorical children. What if they stood up to 
their parents and said: 「Your priorities don』t make any sense to us. 
Isn』t there a way to improve our finances without destroying our family?」 
What if they suggested more acceptable alternatives to breaking 
up the home? For example, the kids could work after school to supplement 
the family income through paper routes, dog walking, or 
lemonade stands. They could volunteer to live with a treasured aunt 
and uncle until finances got better. Or, perhaps the family could cut 
expenses by renting out rooms or moving into a smaller place. 

Devise New Solutions 

There are always other options. Maybe you can help your employer 
discover better solutions. That』s what happened at Rhino Foods Inc., 
a dessert manufacturer in Burlington, Vermont. At a companywide 
meeting, management announced that business had slowed so much 
that they could no longer justify the number of people on staff. Then 
they invited employees to find a way to solve the problem, and 26 
jumped at the chance. 

After studying the issues for three weeks, the group developed the 
idea of an Employee Exchange Program, an in-house temporary-
employment agency that 「lends」 extra workers to other companies. 
Employees who volunteer for assignments are interviewed, hired, and 
paid by the 「host」 company, but they retain their benefits through 
Rhino. And if the host company has a lower hourly wage, Rhino 
makes up the difference. So far, the only downside has been more 
paperwork. But then layoffs create additional paperwork, too. 

Manage Others』 Expectations of You 

It can be hard not to act out, to remember that you』re an adult and a 
professional who was hired because your employer believed you had 
the skills and desire to help the organization achieve its goals. So many 


:^) CHAPTER 7 

adults regress and start acting like children who have no place to go 
and no one to play with. 

An investment banker who works for a New York–based firm managed 
to 「stay adult」 and professional despite institutional obstacles. 
When the banker was asked to join his firm』s restructuring task force, 
he knew it would be important to participate. He also knew that the 
responsibility would be like having a second full-time job. His dilemma: 
how to handle both duties without working 18- or 20-hour days. 
What he needed, he decided, was to work smarter but not necessarily 
harder. 

His three rules of participation were the following: 

1. 
Never work more than a 12-hour day. A devoted family man, he 
acknowledged openly that spending evenings at home with his 
wife and two daughters was important for his sanity. Although he 
was willing to begin his workday early (6 a.m.), he also planned 
to be on the 6:15 p.m. train home. You could set your watch by 
him. Unless it was an absolute emergency, he never deviated from 
his schedule. As a result, his employers and co-workers knew 
exactly what to expect from him. 
2. 
Don』t expect perfection. By nature, he was a meticulous man who 
dotted every i and crossed every t. He also knew that if he maintained 
that work style, he』d soon fall far behind. So he lost the 
perfectionist mentality and developed personal standards of 
「good enough」 that kept his reputation for able work intact. 
3. 
Share your goals. Always considered a star performer, the banker 
knew he could never produce the same results with so much 
added responsibility. Rather than try to achieve some impossible 
goal, he renegotiated his sales objectives with his manager and 
then worked diligently to deliver what he』d promised. Not once 
did he beat himself up for not delivering the sales figures he』d 
achieved in previous years. However, getting his manager to buy 
into his new goals was crucial to his success. Otherwise, it would 
merely have looked as if his performance was way off. 

LAYOFF SURVIVORS』 DILEMMA: PUT UP OR SHUT UP :^) 

Unlike other highly motivated and ambitious professionals, this savvy 
careerist didn』t get seduced into taking on more than he could possibly 
accomplish. By managing the expectations of the people around 
him, he preserved his own energy and enthusiasm for his work. 

Accept Your Limitations 

While acknowledging that you』re neither a machine nor a superhuman 
always carries some risk, you don』t do anyone a favor by refusing to 
accept or understand your personal and professional limitations. 
「Unless you learn to set boundaries and prioritize your work, you can 
end up going down with the ship,」 says Bougie. That』s exactly what 
happened to the assistant dean of a prestigious liberal-arts college in 
Chicago. When his support staff was eliminated, the administrator 
didn』t adjust his goals to accommodate that loss. Instead, he tried 
valiantly to do the job of three people. In his case, this meant singlehandedly 
servicing more than 1,200 students. His reward: ulcerated 
colitis. He also got a year off, which he needed to recover his health 
and sanity. 

An operations analyst with a consulting group in Chicago had better 
success with a more aggressive style. To prevent an overload of 
demand on her energies, she moved her office to a location removed 
from her colleagues. She also convinced her manager to let her work 
at home two mornings a week in order to get some uninterrupted 
work time. 

Keep in mind, though, that even your most innovative solutions won』t 
be considered seriously unless you have a solid track record of professional 
credibility. You need to establish yourself as a hardworking and 
committed team player who』s willing to go the extra mile before asking 
your employer to go out of the way for you. 


:^) CHAPTER 7 

Make a Commitment to Be Part of the 
Solution 

When an assistant marketing manager attended a friend』s wedding 
instead of the company』s largest promotional event in history, his priority 
for friendship wasn』t much appreciated. Although no ultimatum 
was given, he had trouble recovering from the perception that he 
wasn』t committed to organizational goals and priorities. 

Balancing work and personal needs is a tricky business in organizations 
where the work seems to mushroom out of control. To get what 
you want for yourself, you must demonstrate a genuine commitment 
to the company』s efforts as well. 

People who get ahead in downsizing organizations are the ones who 
take the initiative to be part of the solution rather than the problem. 
Instead of railing against the boss, they do their best to add value 
wherever they can. 

When Baxter Healthcare Corporation began its downsizing initiatives 
10 years ago, it needed a human resources professional to staff its outplacement 
center. No one wanted the job because it seemed too temporary. 
Now, 10 years later, many people who thought that job would 
be too short-lived are gone and Maureen Gold (who accepted it) is still 
there going strong. In fact, the company』s career center has not only 
outlived its skeptics, it』s become one of the more enduring parts of the 
organization. In the process, Maureen Gold has discovered her own 
professional mission. A former teacher, she loves 「to see the light bulb 
go on in people』s heads when they realize they have choices.」 

Gold』s message is one of empowerment. Regardless of whether you 
stay with the company or leave, she says, the important thing is to 
realize that it』s still up to you to manage your career. 「Through all the 
craziness, you can find opportunities to grow,」 she says. 


LAYOFF SURVIVORS』 DILEMMA: PUT UP OR SHUT UP :^) 

Attitude Is a Key Variable 

When a national chain of bookstores consolidated its operations 
and eliminated several suburban stores, the company』s advertising 
manager suddenly found herself saddled with public relations responsibilities 
as well. Although she hadn』t been familiar with PR, she 
viewed it as a 「learning opportunity」—a chance to expand her skills 
and experience into other arenas. 

「I could have sat around moaning that I』m not a PR person, or that 
PR isn』t my job,」 she says today. 「But what good would it have done? 
Like it or not, I』m a PR person now. Fortunately, it』s kind of fun.」 

To maintain your sanity and self-esteem, you need to accept responsibility 
for your decision to stay. If you can』t do that, make arrangements 
to leave. After all, what』s the point of holding onto your job if 
you end up becoming a physically and emotionally charred wreck in 
the process? 

「When you accept that you』re 100 percent responsible for who you 
are and where you work, you lose the need to blame others or hold 
them emotionally hostage,」 says Linda Bougie. 

After that, there can be a joy in staying, says Gold. When you』re able 
to see the changes around you as an opportunity to invest in yourself, 
you won』t feel like you』re just holding onto your job. You』ll realize 
that you』re developing skills and experience you can take with you 
when you leave. 「In this day and age, everybody needs to learn how 
be a change manager,」 says Gold. 「It』s the most marketable skill there 
is.」 Unfortunately, most employees are so busy bemoaning their fates 
that they lose out on that window of opportunity. 

「Survivors are afraid to get their hopes up,」 says Phyllis Edelen, a 
human resources consultant in Dallas, Texas, who』s managed career 
centers for AT&T and Kraft Foods. 「Instead of getting involved, they 
sit around waiting for the other shoe to fall.」 She understands their 
fears but questions their lack of motivation. 「People may be waiting 
for the next disaster, but in the meantime, they don』t do anything 
to prepare themselves for that day,」 says Edelen. 「Despite all that 


:^) CHAPTER 7 

mental anguish they put themselves through, it hits them just as hard 
when they do get laid off.」 

No job lasts forever, so why waste the time you have worrying about 
when the boom will strike? If you』ve chosen to stay (at least for now), 
focus instead on self-development. Use the days, weeks, and months 
ahead to build some new skills (including job search skills), experiences, 
and contacts that will enable you to build bridges out of your 
current situation. 

View This as a Learning Opportunity 

Yolanda Banks is a survivor who rose to that particular challenge. 
Banks is an environmental coordinator for a medical manufacturing 
plant in Niles, Illinois, that had a two-year plan to close down its local 
operation and relocate elsewhere. Every round of layoffs brought her 
one round closer to the day when she, too, must go. It also meant saying 
goodbye to treasured friends and co-workers, many of whom considered 
themselves fortunate to be among the first to leave. 

For those who remained behind, a bitter legacy awaited them. For 
years, they』d worked together to make the plant a productive 
facility—and they』d succeeded. Now, everything they worked so hard 
to build had to be systematically dismantled. 

Animosities ran rampant. Many people were frustrated and bitter. 
Productivity plummeted along with morale. The potential for accidents 
skyrocketed every day. Ordinarily, this would not be Banks』s 
problem. But her manager didn』t survive the first round of cuts and 
she did, which made her the ad hoc manager of safety and environmental 
health. She didn』t have the title and she certainly didn』t get a 
pay raise, but she accepted the responsibility. To do her job well meant 
to ensure the safety and good health of her co-workers. For her, that 
was more important than any personal grudges she harbored against 
her employer for closing its doors or doubling her workload. 


LAYOFF SURVIVORS』 DILEMMA: PUT UP OR SHUT UP :^) 

Banks』s attitude made her different. In an environment riddled with 
fear, mistrust, and anger, motivation was low and risk-taking almost 
nonexistent. Almost all the employees were nursing their wounds and 
waiting to leave. It had become bad form to show any enthusiasm or 
excitement for your job, let alone your employer, who was, in everyone』s 
eyes, Public Enemy Number One. Still, Banks understood that 
you can』t discover and express your talents while hiding under a rock 
and hoping the winds of change will blow over. 

Even in an organization that』s redefining itself, there are things to be 
learned and accomplished on your way out the door. As Maureen 
Gold says, 「It makes a difference how you leave.」 

Yolanda Banks had never been a manager before, so this was her big 
chance to become one. She admitted she could use a mentor. But there 
wasn』t one available. She had to learn to mentor herself. Fortunately, 
she had the mental skill to do it. 

To self-mentor, you have to be your own best role model. Create the 
prototype and then live it. This means taking responsibility for learning 
what you need to know to do your job. Banks is a good teacher 
who knows how to ask the right questions. This quality will allow her 
to resolve the problems she faces. When a drum of questionable origin 
showed up on the dock, for example, she used her research and 
investigative skills to figure out where it came from and how to dispose 
of it. 

Banks already knew an important principle of leadership: Don』t wait 
for someone else to solve a problem. Instead, take the initiative to 
solve it yourself. That same initiative appeared again when the plant 
manager was seeking ways to motivate his remaining personnel to 
meet productivity standards and goals. 

Toward that end, Banks recommended (and piloted) a stress ergonomics 
program that, for very little money, was already being implemented 
successfully at companies such as 3M. Stress ergonomics is a fancy 
name for a simple 10-minute stretch break, which (as most fitness 


:^) CHAPTER 7 

experts will tell you) can do wonders to boost energy levels. The program 
has 98 percent participation, but it doesn』t play entirely to rave 
reviews. In spite of many enthusiastic supporters, it also has its fair 
share of detractors. Some say it』s a ridiculous waste of time. Others 
agree it』s a nice program—but too short and way too late (they complain 
the company should have instituted the plan years ago). 

Don』t Let Others Hold You Back 

When you approach your job with creativity and enthusiasm, don』t 
expect the people around you to rave, 「Wow! What a great person!」 
More likely than not, you』ll encounter what Hawaiians refer to as a 
「crabpot mentality.」 

When Hawaiian fishermen go crabbing, they throw the crabs they 
catch into a bucket with no lid. The Hawaiians learned long ago that 
there was no danger of the crabs climbing out and scurrying away. 
Whenever one crab reaches the lip of the bucket, the leader is pulled 
back into the pot by the others, who seem determined not to let any 
members of their group escape. Who needs a jail warden when you 
have each other to guard the gates? 

Granted, great ideas are hard to achieve in downsizing organizations 
where emotional leakage and miscommunication run high. But that 
doesn』t mean you shouldn』t try. Why not lose the chip on your shoulder 
and show some initiative of your own? For those of you with leadership 
blood in your veins, the time is ripe to separate yourself from 
the horde of naysayers that surrounds you. Exercise your leadership 
potential and you』ll truly stand out. 

Managers (and aspiring managers) should display the courage to participate 
in the changes and, if possible, make change a more compassionate 
experience. Norbert Wiener, the founder of Cybernetics, said, 
「The world may be viewed as a myriad of 『to-whom-it-may-concern 
messages.』」 It』s up to you whether you want to heed their call. If you 
do, expect the road to get rocky. 


LAYOFF SURVIVORS』 DILEMMA: PUT UP OR SHUT UP :^) 

A senior customer service manager who』d made it through two years 
of continuous organizational change (including five different restructuring 
attempts) was determined to be more than just a survivor. He 
wanted to learn something from the process, even if it meant putting 
his personal career objectives on hold for a while. To him, it was a 
「developmental challenge」 to keep his staff motivated and provide 
quality customer service in a constantly changing environment. 

His advice: Use organizational change to become an expert in what 
you do. For example, he was able to experiment with a dozen different 
ways to improve customer service, even in the midst of business 
and staff changes. The hardest part was to keep his staff of 60 people 
motivated to provide quality service in the face of serious morale 
problems. Secrecy, he discovered, was his enemy. Communication— 
even if it meant over-communication—was his greatest ally. By sharing 
his concerns and frustrations with the staff, he motivated them to 
work hard, even if the company they worked for didn』t seem to appreciate 
their efforts. 

「I wore a lot of hats with my staff,」 says the manager. 「Protector, 
advisor, parent. Sometimes, they acted like little kids who needed a 
『time out』 to get control of themselves. It was tough.」 

Getting through the rough times might be easier if you recognize that 
you』ve entered a skill-building phase in your career that will make you 
more marketable elsewhere. 「If I hadn』t known that my situation 
would be temporary,」 says the customer service manager, 「I probably 
would』ve been miserable.」 

As it is, he isn』t sorry that his name showed up on a list of jobs to be 
cut. 「Mentally, I』d already packed my bags,」 he says. 「The paperwork 
was just a formality.」 Now that he』s in the job market again, 
he』s discovering that many employers are interested in his ability to 
manage through change. This is fine with him, but he has a requirement 
of his own: He wants to manage change that comes from growth 
rather than shrinkage. 「I want to add staff and grow them,」 he says. 
「Not fire people I』ve groomed as members of my team.」 To achieve 


:^) CHAPTER 7 

that goal, he』s targeting expanding midsize companies with solid market 
niches. 

Be Prepared to Walk Away 

Sometimes, breaking the ties of organizational dependency means 
walking away from a place where you no longer want to work. When 
a Midwest hospital reorganized its social-work department and 
moved it under the rubric of nursing, the director didn』t appreciate his 
resulting demotion and return to a direct-service role. The director 
couldn』t afford to quit outright, but he decided to work on developing 
an effective search strategy that would enable him to find something 
else quickly. If that didn』t work out, he planned to develop a 
private counseling practice. If he was going to do direct service, he 
wanted to get paid real money for it! 

Remember the purchasing agent discussed earlier in this chapter—the 
one who had only five minutes to decide his fate? His experience 
taught him an important lesson: Be ready for anything. From that day 
on, he worked diligently to pay his bills and prepare himself financially 
to walk away. During the next reorganization, he got his chance. 
When two more positions were eliminated from his department, he 
again had five minutes to decide whether he wanted to triple his workload 
in order to stay. He didn』t need five minutes to decide. He was 
out of there in two. 「I expected them to ask me to pick up the trash 
and throw out the garbage, too,」 he says bitterly. 「It was a setup to 
fail. No one can do the job of six people.」 

He doesn』t regret the decision. Indeed, he looks forward to seeking out 
new challenges. 「I want the challenge of growth and opportunity,」 he 
says. 「I have no desire to be some overworked workhorse.」 

Knowing how and when to get out of an abusive employment situation 
is an important vocational skill. Although you shouldn』t ever 
plant your flag around issues and concerns that don』t really bother 
you, you do need the gumption to say when necessary, 「I refuse to let 
life (or my employer) do this to me.」 


LAYOFF SURVIVORS』 DILEMMA: PUT UP OR SHUT UP :^) 

If you can』t make peace with the new terms of your employment, you 
must find a way to walk away. Whatever you do, don』t be a victim. 
There』s no pleasure in the role and no opportunity for the future. 
Stand up and be counted instead. You』ll be better off for having made 
the effort. 

Even if they』re relieved to still have a job, layoff survivors experience 
mostly downbeat emotions about their work situations. In Healing the 
Wounds (1995, Jossey-Bass), author David Noer describes the following 
survivor fears and concerns: 

■ 
Job insecurity. This effect cuts across all levels: People go home at 
night wondering whether they』ll still have a job tomorrow, next 
week, or next month. 
■ 
Lack of management credibility. After a downsizing, management 
becomes the ubiquitous 「they.」 Even executives blame 
higher-ups for their problems and try to separate themselves from 
them. Apparently, there』s still some gratification in being a victim, 
not the oppressor. Also, employees often feel that the wrong 
people got 「kept,」 while the 「good guys」 got kicked out. 
■ 
Depression, stress, and fatigue. Such symptoms are common at 
all levels of the organization. Battle fatigue is bound to set in 
when you must do more work with less resources at a time when 
your motivation is at an all-time low. 
■ 
Distrust and betrayal. These are everywhere. A 「watch-yourback」 
attitude becomes prevalent, creating a hostile, alienated 
workforce and workplace. 
■ 
Lack of reciprocal commitment. Some employees maintain 
loyalty to their employer; however, no one believes the company 
will do the same. 
■ 
Wanting it to be over. Workforce reductions are draining and 
stressful. You might feel like you』re hanging on by a thread waiting 
for it all to end. 

:^) CHAPTER 7 

■ 
Poor planning and communication. In a workplace that』s likely 
characterized by secrecy, mistrust, and power struggles, employees 
thirst for direct communication, more information, and some 
little sign that a benign authority is in charge somewhere. 
■ 
Short-term thinking. Management usually gets labeled as 
greedy—fixated on short-term profits. This perception is sometimes 
true, but not always. Some companies try to balance concern 
for next quarter』s profits with long-term goals. 
■ 
Permanent instability. Employees feel that change—and not necessarily 
for the better—will be a constant at the company forevermore. 
■ 
Long-lasting wounds. The Noer research shows that even five 
years after a downsizing, the survivor syndrome lingers on in the 
form of fatigue, decreased motivation, sadness, depression, insecurity, 
anxiety, fear, and anger. Add to that a sense of resignation 
and psychic numbing and you have a prescription for a demoralized 
workforce desperately in need of emotional repair. 
Layoff Survivors』 Dilemma 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. Have you ever survived a corporate restructuring? (If you 
answered 「no,」 please skip to question 11.) 
2. What』s the toughest organizational challenge your current 
employer is facing? 

LAYOFF SURVIVORS』 DILEMMA: PUT UP OR SHUT UP :^) 

3. How would you advise your employer to handle that problem? 
4. What happened to your job when your organization downsized? 
5. Are you satisfied with your new role? 
6. 
Do you have enough time and resources to do your new job? 
If not, is there any way you can gain greater control over the 
situation? 
7. Do you have a new boss as a result of the downsizing? 
8. If you have a new boss, do you feel that your boss is someone 
you can work with? If not, why? 
(continues) 

149 


:^) CHAPTER 7 

(continued) 

9. 
If you don』t get along with your new boss, is there anything 
you can do to improve that relationship? 
10. Can you transfer to a different department or division? 
11. If you』ve never been through a downsizing, what do you imagine 
it will be like? What do you think will happen to your job? 

12. Do you know anyone who survived a downsizing? Is there anything 
you can learn from that person』s experience? 
13. Do you think your company might go through a downsizing in 
the future? 
14. If you answered 「yes」 to question 13, what are you doing to 
prepare yourself for that day? 
150 



LAYOFF SURVIVORS』 DILEMMA: PUT UP OR SHUT UP :^) 

15. 
If you answered 「nothing」 to question 14, is there anything 
you can do to prepare yourself now (for example, start networking 
within the organization, write your resume, join a professional 
group)? 
16. Who do you share your anxieties and concerns with? Are these 
people helpful? 
17. If your support system isn』t helpful, have you considered professional 
assistance? 

CHAPTER 8 


Quitting Your Job 

Leave them while you』re looking good. 

—Anita Loos 

W
W
hen the great Impressionist painter 
Paul Gauguin ditched his boring job as 
a stockbroker and skipped off to 

Tahiti, he lived out an escapist fantasy that most people would confine 
to their daydreams or weekend getaways. Depending on your perspective, 
you might consider Gauguin courageous (for living out his 
desires) or immature (for abandoning his obligations). Mrs. Gauguin 
was probably not too thrilled with his decision, whereas art lovers 
everywhere are likely to applaud his bravado. 

The magnitude of his accomplishments might color your vision. If you 
knew you had the talent of a Gauguin, you might run off to a tropical 
paradise to paint, too. Possessing more ordinary skills might make you 
think twice. 

But did Gauguin really possess some fabulous innate artistic genius or, 
more likely, an incredible drive to bring his talents to fruition? By taking 
the initiative to explore his dream, he discovered a wellspring of 
potential within himself. Who knows what might happen to you if you 
could devote your full attention to developing your potential? 
However you judge Gauguin—as a great artist, as an immature guy in 
the throes of a midlife crisis, or both—it』s clear his tremendous talent 
would never have seen the light of day if he hadn』t also had the ability 
to throw convention to the winds and live as he pleased. 


:^) CHAPTER 8 

Of course, his approach wouldn』t work for everybody. The point is 
that he found a unique solution, which led to a uniquely satisfying 
accomplishment and lifestyle. 

You might very well place your family responsibilities and financial 
obligations above your duty to fulfill your personal potential. This, 
too, is a valid choice. What you need to question, however, is whether 
you』re being unnecessarily shortsighted. If you see yourself as someone 
without a lot of talent or potential to fulfill, it』s easy to idealize 
your loyalties and stay right where you are. 

There are many good reasons not to make changes. Lack of self-
confidence isn』t one of them, especially if you』re really unhappy with 
your current job or career. Even if you never aspire to great achievements, 
you can aspire to happiness. But don』t expect it to fall in your 
lap. You have to go out and find it. 

Believing that you could never have a truly satisfying career is just a 
way of justifying inertia, says career counselor Mike Murphy with the 
Signet Group in Chicago, Illinois. 「When all the choices you make are 
based on a false premise, the conclusions that flow from that premise 
are likely to be false, too,」 says Murphy. 「How can you know there』s 
nothing out there for you when you haven』t even looked?」 Too often, 
says Murphy, 「we convince ourselves we can』t do what really we』re 
afraid to do.」 

Gauguin might have gone to extremes, but most people dream too 
small, making unnecessary sacrifices in the name of some misunderstood 
「reality.」 

The Lies We Tell Ourselves 

Before you conclude that you have no choice but to stay in a job or 
occupation that isn』t right for you, take some time to examine your 
beliefs. Leave open the possibility that some assumptions you』ve been 
making about yourself might be more self-fulfilling prophecy than 
objective reality. 


QUITTING YOUR JOB :^) 

In Divorcing a Corporation (1986, Random House), Jacqueline 
Horor Plumez identified a host of self-defeating lies that many of us 
use to talk ourselves into staying put when we should be letting go. 
「This way of thinking comes with a very dear price tag: You. Your 
aspirations. Your needs. Your happiness,」 says Plumez. 

To break free of that psychological bondage, you need to recognize 
these self-deceptions for what they are—a way to prevent yourself 
from getting hurt by not trying. The following sections discuss some 
of the 「lies that bind.」 

Lie 1: It Would Be Disloyal of Me to Look Around 

A 20-year veteran of the Bell system swelled with pride when describing 
himself as a 「loyal corporate foot soldier.」 By that, he meant his 
employer could count on him to go wherever and do whatever he was 
asked. If his career path looked more like a potpourri of jobs than a 
logical progression of upward moves, he took comfort in knowing 
that he was needed. In exchange for that sacrifice, he expected them 
to find a place for him for as long as he wanted to work. 

Divestiture didn』t sit well with him, but he never dreamed it would 
affect him directly. When his name showed up on a list of people classified 
as 「available for reassignment,」 he assumed he』d be picked up 
by another division immediately. Even after receiving his 60-day 
notice, he refused to look outside the company. 

Only after he was actually forced off the payroll did the foolishness of 
his ways occur to him. Loyalty was supposed to be a two-way street, 
but he was the only one honoring the contract. When the company no 
longer needed him, he was discarded like yesterday』s newspaper, without 
a second thought for his welfare. It was a hard lesson, and he was 
ill-prepared to handle the emotional fallout. Had he recognized 
sooner that the changes in company structure signaled the end of their 
psychological employment contract, he could have taken more steps 
to protect himself. But by closing his eyes too long to reality, he ended 


:^) CHAPTER 8 

up frightened and cynical—scrambling for his livelihood in a competitive 
workplace he couldn』t begin to understand. 

When you tell yourself you can』t betray your company』s loyalty by 
leaving, you abdicate responsibility for your own future and, some 
would say, betray yourself instead. Trust me: If a company really 
needs you, it』ll make every attempt to keep you should you decide to 
leave. 

For example, a technical trainer who gave the traditional two weeks』 
notice was offered a consulting contract to complete the projects she 
still had pending. In another case, a hospital that didn』t want to 
lose one of its most productive administrators made an exceptional 
counteroffer to entice him to stay. Neither of these professionals confused 
their new agreements with loyalty oaths. But, for both, it was a 
recognition that the work they did was valued enough to motivate 
their employers to keep them on the payroll a while longer. 

Lie 2: I Might Fail Somewhere Else 

By the time she finally made the decision to quit, the technical trainer 
who』d been offered a consulting contract to stay had convinced herself 
that no employer would ever want to hire her. To her amazement, 
she was off the payroll less than one week when a former vendor 
extended her a job offer. This isn』t the only time I』ve seen perfectly 
capable professionals talk themselves into believing they』re worthless 
and incompetent. Low self-esteem and interpersonal conflicts with 
bosses or co-workers are often at the heart of this self-defeating scenario. 


A little reality testing can go a long way toward checking such self-
destructive fantasies (and they usually are fantasies). By networking 
with people who』d worked with her before, the technical trainer got 
some objective feedback on her performance that helped mitigate her 
anxieties. 

If a lack of self-confidence is blocking your ability to seek out better 
opportunities, it might help to test the job market before reaching any 


QUITTING YOUR JOB :^) 

final decisions. You can make a commitment to look around without 
making a commitment to leave. Should your first foray into the job 
market reveal that you are, in fact, missing a crucial skill or piece of 
experience, you can establish short-term goals for yourself that will fill 
that gap. Then, when you』ve built the necessary expertise, you』ll be 
able to move on. 

Should you discover (as many do) that no one has a lower opinion 
of you than yourself, you might want to consider professional counseling. 
A major self-esteem problem can really get in the way of your 
success. 

Lie 3: I』ll Never Make as Much Money Anywhere 
Else 

Having worked your way up to a respectable salary level, it』s understandable 
that you』d resist giving up one cent of those hard-earned 
dollars. Before you turn this self-defeating lie into a showstopper, 
though, you might want to examine your assumptions more closely. 
Odds are, you haven』t investigated the job market thoroughly enough 
to know whether you』d earn less elsewhere. You might just be using 
money as an excuse to keep you from testing the waters. Again, you 
can make a commitment to look without making a commitment to 
leave. At least that way, you can base your decisions on logic and fact 
rather than folklore. 

Before the technical trainer left her large corporate employer for a 
smaller consulting firm, she, too, assumed that she』d have to take a 
significant hit on the money. In fact, the firm』s offer did come in 
$5,000 short. She was so sure she』d have to take a pay cut, she didn』t 
think about negotiating for more. After some coaching, though, she 
was able to convince her new employer to meet her salary needs. 
What』s more, she was told they would have been disappointed in her 
if she hadn』t counter-offered. So much for her assumptions! 

As a professional, your first goal should be to build the most impressive 
skill set possible so that you can command more money in the 


:^) CHAPTER 8 

marketplace. Your second task is to research and target companies 
that can really capitalize on the things you have to offer. 

During interviews, you must do your utmost to convince hiring managers 
of the value you bring with you. After you show you can solve 
their organizational problems, you can explain how much it will cost 
them. Then, come back and tell me no employer will match your current 
salary and (maybe) I』ll believe you. 

Lie 4: Maybe Things Will Get Better 

If you wait them out, some work situations do improve. But the outcome 
depends on how or why they got worse in the first place. Nine 
years ago, a human resources generalist joined a major health-care 
corporation. Six months later, she was involved in her first reorganization. 
Although she survived with her job intact, her workload virtually 
doubled overnight. 

「Don』t worry,」 her manager told her. 「Things will get better.」 That 
was more than eight years ago. Since then, she』s been through five different 
restructurings. Whenever she wasn』t personally affected, she 
was laying others off. 

She just can』t get excited about these changes anymore. She』s heard 
lies too many times. Still, she』s reluctant to leave. She has nine years 
in—long enough to know her way around the system and feel comfortable 
with lots of people. Besides, she』s still convinced she can find 
a safe part of the company that won』t be restructured. Some people 
have trouble learning from experience, I guess. 

Lie 5: It』s My Fault I』m Not Happy 

Blaming yourself for not liking your job won』t solve any problems. If 
you want to take more responsibility for your happiness, you need to 
think in terms of 「mismatch,」 not faultfinding. Trying to understand 
why your job, company, or field doesn』t suit your needs will help you 
redirect your energies toward creating a better match. 


QUITTING YOUR JOB :^) 

For example, a social worker found the family counseling center she 
worked at too much like a dysfunctional family, with everyone overinvolved 
in everyone else』s business. Whereas most of her co-workers 
loved the 「family feeling」 of the place, she felt guilty for wanting an 
atmosphere that encouraged more professionalism and greater independence. 
Eventually, she came to realize that leaving the agency was 
like growing up and leaving home. At a certain time in life, it』s definitely 
the right thing to do. Once she figured that out, she knew it 
would be crazy to stay. 

You can come up with a million (untrue) reasons why you can』t leave 
a situation you dislike. But when you deny reality (or the depth of 
your unhappiness), it has a way of catching up with you. If you do 
nothing to remedy the situation you hate, there』s a good chance you』ll 
end up being terminated. You might try to hide your feelings from coworkers, 
but negativity has a way of seeping out when you least 
expect it. Most of us don』t have very good poker faces. 

This is exactly what happened to a sales rep with an aluminum-siding 
company who wanted to work in a more glamorous industry. While 
he vacillated about whether to stay or to go, he stopped paying 
enough attention to his numbers. They dipped way below quota, and 
before he realized what was happening, he had three months of severance 
pay and carte blanche to find something that suited him better. 

Likewise, an office manager was so bored with performing the same 
old duties day in and day out that she could barely manage to drag 
herself to the office in the morning, and never before 9:30. From there, 
it was a short step to long lunch hours and even longer weekends. 
Only a Neanderthal could have missed her lack of motivation. Like 
the sales rep, she got her walking papers along with three months』 pay 
to figure out what she wanted to do next. 


:^) CHAPTER 8 

Timing Your Departure 

You might wonder: Is it better to look for a job while you still have 
one, or to quit first so that you can take the time to look for something 
better? It depends. 

Both the sales rep and the office manager were relieved to be set free 
from positions that weren』t right for them. Although it』s never smart 
to get yourself thrown out because you lacked the courage to leave on 
your own accord, there is an argument for taking the time to search 
out what you really want. But if you don』t have enough of a financial 
cushion, panic over money might force you into a premature decision. 

Also, being unemployed can make you more insecure during interviews, 
especially if you fear an employer might try to take advantage 
of you as a result. However, no one can take advantage of you unless 
you let them. Having confidence in your own abilities and worth is the 
best antidote against that happening. 

Cultivating Good References 

If you burn bridges on your way out the door, you complicate your situation 
with poor references. This could make you pretty defensive in 
interviews, and you』ll have to supply more positive references. If necessary, 
you』ll have to let your former employers know that it』s against 
the law for them to say anything that would interfere with your ability 
to find a new job. Know your rights here and, if necessary, exercise 
them. 

Unemployed professionals aren』t the only ones with sticky reference 
problems. Unless your bosses know you』re looking for a new job, you 
won』t be able to use their names as references. Plus, it』s hard to activate 
the kind of network you need for an effective search if you must 
keep your job hunt secret. You might have to avoid a huge chunk of 
opportunities because you』re afraid to reveal your search to key people 
who would otherwise be able to help you. 


QUITTING YOUR JOB :^) 

Besides quitting outright, you have two choices: You can discreetly tell 
certain trusted networking contacts that you』re in the market and ask 
them to please honor your confidence. Your second option is to tell 
your employer that you』re looking. Although risky, this strategy has 
worked surprisingly well for some people. Although some employers 
become furious at being abandoned, others have been known to 
respond more maturely. 

Anyway, when it comes to changing jobs, there』s always risk. It』s up to 
you to choose which risks you prefer. 

Job Hunting While You』re Still Employed 

If you can start job hunting discreetly while still employed, you』ll have 
more time to do the preparatory work it takes to research the job market, 
write a resume, and probe your network. However, after you』ve 
gauged the market (and your marketability), you might want to risk 
leaving your job without having another. Why? Looking for a job is a 
full-time job. To find a position in a company that』s really right for 
you takes time, energy, and commitment. That』s not something you 
have in great reserve when you』re still physically and emotionally 
committed to another position. 

A retail store manager promised herself for more than a year that 
she』d look for a new position. But beyond responding to want ads, she 
was simply too tired at the end of the day to do the kind of networking 
she needed to be successful. Because she hoped to change careers 
into media sales, she needed extra time and energy for the task. She 
couldn』t seem to mobilize herself to do more than the bare minimum, 
though. 

Finally, she made a commitment to leave. Her plan included an interim 
job as a department store salesperson to keep some money coming 
in. Knowing she could meet her basic financial needs relieved a great 
burden. When she was able to job hunt in earnest, she was incredibly 
aggressive in pursuing leads and successfully found a new position 
within two months. 


:^) CHAPTER 8 

An Emotional Journey 

The process of letting go of a job that』s holding you back usually sets 
an important emotional process in motion. Even if you』re more than 
ready to leave, expect a bit of an emotional roller coaster on your way 
out the door. 

For the technical trainer discussed earlier in this chapter, resolving 
anger at her boss and co-workers for not respecting her work and for 
mistreating her was the primary emotional task. At times, her anger 
was fueled by anxiety that she wouldn』t be able to find another position; 
at other times, it was tempered by her success in the outside 
world. When she saw she』d be able to find something else rather easily, 
her rage melted away—a sure sign that her hostile dependency on 
them had vanished. The offer of consulting work was the ultimate 
coup de grace. Finally, they recognized and appreciated her competence, 
paving the way for her to exit the once-stormy relationship 
gracefully. Leaving properly is an emotional challenge. 

No matter how much you dislike the work, you can still feel a twinge 
of regret when you』re training your successor. No one likes being a 
lame duck. It』s no fun to be left out of the action. Yet letting go pieceby-
piece can be an important part of leaving. 

Missing Your Friends and Routine 

There』s almost always someone you』re going to miss. And although 
you promise each other you』ll stay in touch, even friendships that 
extend beyond the office corridors can lose momentum without daily 
contact or shared experiences. You might also find yourself grieving 
the loss of your comfortable, familiar routine. 

You』ll get over it. When you find a new position, you』ll make new 
friends and establish new routines. But if you quit without having anyplace 
new to go, you might find yourself feeling empty, disoriented, 
and unsure of who you are or where you』re going. This 「neutral zone」 
is an in-between state where you』ve left one place behind but don』t 
yet know what lies ahead. You must pass through this important 


QUITTING YOUR JOB :^) 

transition point before you can see clearly where you』re headed. If you 
jump from one job to another without allowing time to separate emotionally, 
you might have trouble reconnecting. Then you might carry 
all your old emotional baggage (in the form of unresolved conflicts) 
into your new job and end up repeating the cycle of dissatisfaction. 

Do Your Homework to Find the Right Situation 

It hardly seems worth the effort of leaving just to be unhappy somewhere 
else. The only way to prevent that from happening is to make 
sure that you understand the true sources of your dissatisfaction so 
that you don』t seek out places or situations where those conditions are 
likely to recur. This means sorting through whether it was the job, the 
company, or the people you worked with that created the mismatch 
for you. When you know, you can ask the right questions and evaluate 
jobs more clearly to make sure that your history doesn』t repeat 
itself. 

Before you ever job-hunt, you really need to understand what you like 
to do, what you do best, and the kind of places where you like to 
work. Then you must have the courage and persistence to seek opportunities 
that can really meet your needs. 

Saying Farewell 

After you find a great new job, your next challenge will be to find a 
way to break the news to your employer. Perhaps you prefer the 
Johnny Paycheck method: You know, the one where you shout, 「You 
can take this job and shove it」 over your shoulder as you storm out 
the door. 


:^) CHAPTER 8 

Steps for Leaving Your Job Gracefully 
1. Decide how much notice you would like to give. Two weeks is 
standard. For high-level professional and executive positions, 
allow slightly longer if possible. 
2. Schedule a face-to-face meeting with your boss to express sim-
ply your intention to leave, the date of departure, and apprecia-
tion for the opportunity to work with the company. Make sure 
that your boss is the first person in the company who knows of 
your intention and that the work has not spread to the office 
grapevine ahead of you. 
3. Try to negotiate the terms of your leave-taking fairly. Review 
your projects to determine an orderly transfer of responsibilities. 
If possible, finish those projects that you can realistically finish in 
the allotted time. 
4. Offer to train your replacement. If no successor has been cho-
sen by your last day, volunteer to make yourself available by tele-
phone for a week or two after you』ve left. 
5. Prepare your written resignation after your resignation meeting. 
Address it to your boss, with a carbon copy to the human 
resources department. Confirm your intention to leave and your 
last day of employment. Don』t elaborate on your reasons. Keep 
the memo short and upbeat because it will remain in your per-
manent employment record long after you』re gone. 
6. Schedule an exit meeting with human resources to assess your 
benefits. Review your insurance benefits. Determine your last 
day of health coverage. If you』re entitled to pension or profit-
sharing money, make sure you know exactly how much you 
should receive and when you』ll be paid. Be sure to fill out all nec-
essary forms. 
7. Beware of counteroffers. If you』re tempted by one, review the 
reasons you decided to leave. If they』re still valid, proceed with 
your plan of action and politely decline. 

QUITTING YOUR JOB :^) 

8. 
Handle yourself professionally and responsibly at all times. 
Resignations can cause hard feelings. Never burn bridges. You 
never know when you』ll need to be in contact with those people 
and this organization again. 
Anger not your forte? Maybe you』d rather procrastinate for weeks, 
practicing your resignation speech in front of the mirror as if you were 
receiving an Academy Award for Best Actor. Then, on the day of the 
blessed event, you rush into the personnel office and blurt 「I quit」 
into the astonished secretary』s face. 

If you』re a really timid type who』ll do anything to avoid a confrontation, 
you might want to wait until late Friday night when no one else 
is around, slip your resignation letter under the boss』s office door, and 
then sneak out the back like the Benedict Arnold you are. 

Or maybe you』re the silent type who leaves at 5 p.m. with everyone 
else, cheerfully waving goodbye to your co-workers. Little do they 
know you aren』t coming back—ever. On Monday morning, your 
phone is disconnected (just in case they try to call) and your mail carrier 
has instructions to stamp letters from the company, 「addressee 
unknown.」 Running away like this has its downside: You can never 
answer your telephone or doorbell again. 

There might be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there』s only one good 
way to leave your job: Give ample notice of your intentions, express 
your appreciation for the experience, make arrangements for an 
orderly transition, and say goodbye—nicely. 

Leave like a grown-up and a professional, and your old employer just 
might treat you that way. 


:^) CHAPTER 8 

Quitting Your Job 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. Have you ever quit a job? Or left a relationship? 
2. How did it make you feel to say goodbye? Were you sad? Guilt-
ridden? Angry? Relieved? 
3. How long did it take you to make the decision to leave? 
4. Was there a 「straw that broke the camel』s back」? If so, what 
was it? 
5. Are you sorry that you didn』t leave sooner? If so, what stopped 
you? 
6. Do you wish that you』d waited longer? If so, why didn』t you? 

QUITTING YOUR JOB :^) 

7. 
Have you ever regretted a leave-taking? If so, what would you 
do differently? 
8. What is the scariest part of being unemployed? 
9. How realistic are your fears? 
10. Do you ever fantasize about leaving your current job? 
11. What does your fantasy look like? How do you leave? Where 
do you go? 

12. Have you ever burned any bridges on your way out the door? 
13. How can you prevent yourself from burning any bridges now? 
(continues) 


:^) CHAPTER 8 

(continued) 

14. 
What do you see as the greatest obstacle to leaving a job you 
dislike? 
15. How do you plan to negotiate that obstacle? 
16. 
Before you make the decision to leave, are you sure that 
you』ve done everything in your power to fix your current situation? 
17. If you』re committed to leaving, how do you plan to support 
yourself during the transition? 
18. How long can you afford to be unemployed? 
19. 
Do you have a plan to bring in extra income? If not, can you 
think of how your skills might translate into temporary or freelance 
work? 
168 



QUITTING YOUR JOB :^) 

20. 
If you』d never leave a job without having another one lined up, 
how do you plan to carve out enough free time to look for a 
new job? 
21. Is there any danger that your employer might find out you』re 
looking? 
22. What do you think your employer will do if he or she discovers 
you』re job hunting? 
23. Does this scare you? 
24. Do you consider leaving an act of disloyalty? If so, would your 
employer show the same respect and loyalty to you? 
25. Being completely honest with yourself, would it be better for 
you to stay where you are or to seek out a new position? 

26. Are you acting in your own best interests? 

PART 3 


The Path to Career Happiness 


Chapter 9: Business Ethics: What』s Your Bottom Line? 
Chapter 10: Work/Life Balance: Making a Life While Making 

a Living 
Chapter 11: Having Fun at Work 
Chapter 12: We, Inc.: Working with Others or Starting Your 

Own Business 


CHAPTER 9 


Business Ethics: What』s Your 
Bottom Line? 

There is one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, And that is to 
have a clear conscience—or none at all. 

—Ogden Nash, I』m a Stranger Here Myself 

I
I
n Donald Westlake』s novel The Ax, the central 
character, Burke Devore, is a 51-year-old 
paper executive who has been downsized. 

Although he is one of the best managers in the industry, there are simply 
too few jobs for too few people. So, he hatches a scheme to eliminate 
the competition. Pretending to be an employer, he places an ad in 
the newspaper describing the sort of job he is most qualified for and 
then proceeds to murder the top applicants. (Later he plans to murder 
the man who currently holds the job he covets.) His logic is clear: 

Today, our moral code is based on the idea that the end justifies 
the means. And every single CEO who has commented 
in public on the blizzard of downsizings sweeping America 
has explained himself with some variant on the same idea: 
The end justifies the means. 

The end of what I』m doing, the purpose, the goal, is good, 
clearly good. I want to take care of my family; I want to be 
a productive part of society; I want to put my skills to use; I 
want to work and pay my own way and not be a burden to 
the taxpayers. The means to that end has been difficult, but 
I』ve kept my eye on the goal, the purpose. The end justifies 
the means. Like the CEOs I have nothing to feel sorry for. 


:^) CHAPTER 9 

Devore is a fictional character. Though extreme, he also exemplifies 
the common workplace belief that 「the end justifies the means」: that 
in a dog-eat-dog world, it is necessary—and even commendable—to 
resort to the most venial tactics to vanquish your competitors. For 
Devore, the 「enemy」 was everywhere and everyone. Both the unemployed 
and the employed had become his enemies, desperation his 
psychological companion. 

We like to think that, in the real world, things like this don』t happen. 
But just the other day, one of the kindest, most intelligent men I 
know—a former physician—admitted to me privately that he used to 
have revenge fantasies about blowing up the building where his former 
employers still worked. What curtailed his fantasy was the recognition 
that, in blowing up the executives he loathed, he would also be 
taking down some innocent people. 

Knowing how difficult his situation was, I wasn』t surprised that this 
man might fantasize about revenge. (I would have been astonished, 
however, if he had acted out those fantasies.) Nonetheless, I found it 
profoundly disturbing that such a deeply nice and compassionate person 
could be pushed to the limits of such rage and desperation. 

What he told me next disturbed me even more. Recently he had 
bumped into a former colleague who had been scapegoated by the 
same medical executives and, like my physician-acquaintance, had 
also lost his medical license. This man, however, wasn』t just fantasizing 
about revenge. He had talked to a hit man about killing the executives 
who he blamed for destroying his career. Fortunately, he didn』t 
follow through because the hit man was too expensive. But it』s not as 
if this man has come to his senses and realized that hiring a hit man is 
wrong. He still regrets not having the money to hire the guy. 

These stories—and others like them—are both instructive and disturbing. 
They reveal how deeply important a job can be in a person』s 
life and how unsettling it can be to lose a job you really care about. 
Much like the end of an important relationship or the death of a loved 
one, losing a job can be a highly stressful and deeply traumatic event. 


BUSINESS ETHICS :^) 

An FBI Agent Stands Up for Her 
Principles 

The trauma of losing an important job is what makes people like 
Colleen Rowley—a woman who was willing to risk losing the job she 
had worked for all her life and, by extension, her career as an FBI 
agent, to stand up for her principles—that much more remarkable. 
When she was a kid, her favorite television show was The Man From 
U.N.C.L.E., a spoof about two handsome agents whose mission was 
to save the world from evil. When she was in fifth grade, Rowley 
wrote to the show』s producers asking if she could become the next 
agent from U.N.C.L.E. Recognizing a patriot in the making, the producers 
directed her towards the FBI, where the real special agents 
worked. Rowley contacted the FBI for information and learned that 
they did not hire women as special agents. But the determined youngster 
had the foresight to recognize that would change. She knew what 
she wanted to be when she grew up, and nothing was going to get in 
her way. 

She took pride in being a pioneer, part of the first wave of women 
fighting to be taken seriously in the bureau』s male-dominated, button-
down culture. She worked her way up the ladder as an FBI lawyer— 
handling applications for searches and wiretaps, working organized-
crime cases in New York City, and becoming, in 1995, chief counsel 
in the Minneapolis field office. She won a reputation as a highly 
disciplined professional who was opinionated, principled, and 
supremely devoted to her job. 

All of this helps explain why she put her career on the line to blow the 
whistle on her beloved FBI in the wake of the terrorist attacks on our 
country. When she wrote a secret 13-page memo to the FBI revealing 
problems she had witnessed relative to the terrorist attacks, she was 
on a private mission to rescue her beloved employer from unethical 
practices, not a personal crusade to reprimand them publicly. But 
when the memo was leaked to the press, Rowley was thrust into the 
unenviable position of becoming front-page news. 


:^) CHAPTER 9 

Although it was easy for the rest of us (spectators) to be outraged at 
what the FBI had not done to prevent the terrorist attacks, I wonder 
how many of us would have had the kind of courage and integrity to 
do what Colleen Rowley did. I have a feeling not too many. 

A Lack of Ethics 

When advertising executives James Patterson and Peter Kim set out to 
「take the moral pulse of America,」 they discovered that most 
Americans are willing to do anything for money: abandon their families, 
change religions, lie, cheat, steal, or even murder. 

Touching, isn』t it? And it doesn』t get any better. Take a look at some 
of the other results they documented in The Day America Told the 
Truth (1991, Prentice Hall): 

■ 
Lying has become part of our national character. Just about every 
one (91 percent) of us lies—regularly. In fact, most people can』t 
make it through a week without lying. Some can』t even make it 
through a day. 
■ 
When asked what changes they would make to better fulfill their 
potential, most people wanted to be richer and thinner. 
「Smarter」 ran a very distant second. Becoming a 「better person」 
didn』t even make the rankings. 
■ 
When queried about the 「sleaziest ways to make a living,」 car 
and insurance salespeople, Wall Street executives, real-estate 
agents, lawyers, and investment brokers ranked at the bottom of 
the moral sewer. 
■ 
There is only one clear moral authority and it isn』t God, church 
leaders, teachers, or even parents—it』s the individual. That is to 
say, nearly all respondents (93 percent) believe that they and they 
alone determine what is and isn』t moral in their lives. And their 
actions bear this out. Most respondents (more than 80 percent) 
report that they』ve violated a law or an established religious rule 
because they thought the law was wrong. 

BUSINESS ETHICS :^) 

So much for the wisdom of Aristotle, who believed that happiness was 
a function of virtue. He thought that if you worked hard to live as an 
ethical person, you』d feel good about yourself and your place in the 
community. Apparently, we prefer to live out the concerns of Jewish 
theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel, who remarked: 「Suspect your 
neighbor as yourself.」 

In modern society we expect money to make us happy, so we pursue 
it with religious fervor. You』d never know from the way we exalt it 
that the 「bottom line」 is morally neutral. It won』t get you into heaven. 
It won』t make you a good person or a bad one (although how you 
make your living has a moral value). Masquerading as 「realists,」 
some people would have you believe that the whole world is a jungle 
where people watch out solely for themselves and only the cruel survive. 
A 「bottom-line」 mentality has become a convenient excuse to 
indulge predatory instincts. What happened to human evolution and 
the advances of civilization? Do we really want to go back to the jungle 
and kill each other for dinner? 

The reality is that you can be a good person, live an ethical life, and 
still make lots of money. You can even use your power to accomplish 
some good. Principles and ideals aren』t a luxury that you can』t afford. 
They』re a necessity you can』t live without if you want to maintain your 
integrity amid chaos and corruption. 

Although we laughed when actor Michael Douglas』 Wall Street character 
Gordon Gekko declared that 「greed is good,」 the line wasn』t 
quite as funny when we are constantly reminded how deeply held this 
cherished belief runs within the business community. But don』t look to 
the ivory towers of academia for better behavior. There you』ll 
encounter people such as renowned historians Doris Kearns Goodwin 
and Stephen Ambrose, who have been accused of plagiarism, or 
Pulitzer Prize–winning authors inventing experiences in Vietnam and 
teaching them as biographical truth. Nor can we look to the hallowed 
sanctuaries of religion for comfort. Nothing has been more disturbing 
than the revelations of insidious and widespread pedophilia, child 


:^) CHAPTER 9 

molestation, cover-ups, and corruption among the clergy within the 
Roman Catholic Church. 

One powerful antidote to the deterioration of moral and ethical 
behavior in the workplace lies in the realm of character education. 
Character education is the deliberate effort to develop good character 
based on core virtues that are good for the individual and good for 
society. William Bennett, the former Secretary of Education, has 
become a well-known expert on the subject of character education. In 
his book The Moral Compass, he has gathered hundreds of stories, 
poems, and essays that illustrate virtues and values. The stories are 
arranged according to life stages and challenges from childhood 
through adulthood, including the challenges of perseverance, compassion, 
community, responsibility, and faith. 

The Argument for Business Ethics 

Arnold Hiatt, the former chairman of Stride Rite Corporation, 
sees public service as 「enlightened self-interest.」 Citing his company』s 
family-leave policy as an example, he notes that the program costs 
next to nothing financially. In human terms, however, it makes a statement 
of caring that creates goodwill with employees and motivates 
them to be more productive. 

Unfortunately, most managers and business executives are more 
inclined to view profits—not people—as the lifeblood of their organizations. 
Profits are the master they serve. People only get in the way. 
That kind of thinking makes the phrase 「business ethics」 sound 
like an oxymoron and drives ethical people underground into the 
ranks of the alienated and dissatisfied, or out of the corporate sector 
altogether. 

In many cases, the 「bottom-line」 rationale is a convenient excuse to 
operate 「below the line」 of human decency and social responsibility 
under the guise of good business practices. But is it really good practice 
to cheat your customers and exploit your employees for the sake 
of short-term profits? Apparently, a lot of people think so. 


BUSINESS ETHICS :^) 

In The Predatory Society (1995, Oxford University Press), author Paul 
Blumberg examined deceptive business practices. His research uncovered 
600 different accounts of consumer fraud (as reported by 
company employees), including the following: 

■ 
Retail establishments that mark prices up before sales. 
■ 
Gas stations that sell regular fuel as high-test. 
■ 
Auto mechanics who spray-paint old car parts and sell them as 
new. 
■ 
Pharmacies that sell generics and charge brand-name prices. 
These incidents didn』t even occur in the industries or professions that 
respondents to the Patterson and Kim study considered particularly 
unethical. 

On the other hand, respondents did say they personally would do 
anything for money. Well, here』s proof-positive they weren』t kidding. 
In each and every case, profit motive was the force that drove 
businesses to consciously engage in fraudulent and deceptive business 
practices. The paradox for capitalists is that many profit-minded 
people apparently think the best way to make money is to trick consumers 
into thinking products are good quality. Why not actually 
produce and sell quality products, instead? 

The spectacular cases make headlines when they』re uncovered. In 
1992, a once-celebrated Park Avenue attorney named Harvey 
Myerson was convicted of overbilling clients, including Shearson 
Lehman Hutton, more than $2 million. Besides ordering younger partners 
to inflate their hours (or else lose their jobs), he was happy to 
have Shearson pay his personal expenses large and small. These 
included family vacations, travel on the Concorde, and dry cleaning of 
his toupee. 

Equally troubling is the well-publicized case of consumer fraud by two 
high-ranking Beech-Nut executives who were jailed and fined for marketing 
bogus apple juice as 「100% fruit juice.」 In doing so, they 


:^) CHAPTER 9 

tricked millions of unsuspecting consumer-parents into feeding their 
children what was mostly a mixture of beet sugar, apple flavor, 
caramel color, and corn syrup. They rationalized their behavior by 
saying that 「everybody else does it, too.」 But of course, not everybody 
acts in a way that brings them a more than 350-count federal indictment. 


Prior to this incident, these men were not criminals. Both were considered 
upstanding pillars of their respective communities. 
Unfortunately, they must have left their spiritual ideals and morals at 
the church door on Sundays, in order to wear the hat of 「corporate 
patriot」 again on Monday mornings. For that moral failing, they both 
went to jail, were fined $100,000 apiece, and racked up more than $2 
million in penalties for their beloved Beech-Nut. They also destroyed 
consumer trust, shattered their own reputations, and ravaged the 
organizational spirit. These events didn』t make employees proud to 
call themselves members of the Beech-Nut family. 

When Co-Workers Do Wrong 

It』s easy to conclude as Lord Acton did that, 「Power tends to corrupt, 
and absolute power corrupts absolutely.」 Yet eschewing power is 
hardly the answer. Powerlessness also corrupts. How else can you 
explain why all those junior partners who worked for Myerson were 
so willing to risk disbarment rather than activate some kind of personal 
moral compass? Obviously, they were more scared of losing 
their jobs than their licenses to practice law. So they caved in to the 
pressure to 「do the wrong thing.」 But were there no other alternatives 
available to them? 

Fortunately, the tide seems to be turning. After a series of corporate 
scandals (such as Enron, Arthur Andersen, WorldCom, Tyco, 
Healthsouth, and so on), there is more individual and collective support 
for those who dare to stand and fight. But the process can be 
arduous and emotionally draining. 


BUSINESS ETHICS :^) 

Bob McIntyre was a Financial Consultant and Assistant Vice President 
with Merrill Lynch when he discovered that one of his supervisors 
made discretionary (unauthorized) trades in a client』s account. Seeking 
to resolve the conflict amicably, he approached his supervising broker, 
who agreed (in theory) that what he was doing was incorrect and then 
continued the unauthorized trading. Seeing that the problem wasn』t 
resolved in the client』s best interest, McIntyre elevated his complaint 
up the food chain to his resident vice president, who instructed him 
that the matter was to 「go no further.」 

However, McIntyre did press on. He drafted a complaint letter to the 
company』s Ethics Hotline. Shortly thereafter, he noticed that he was 
being treated differently by management, and the company moved 
him to another division. After a six-week absence to attend to his 
mother during her terminal illness, his manager immediately placed 
him on probation, and then terminated him a few months later. 
McIntyre sued for breach of contract and prevailed. The NASD 
ordered Merrill to pay damages. However, he admits that the entire 
process has been a terrible ordeal for his family, and wonders whether 
he did the right thing. 

「Truth be told, I felt as though I was compelled to take action,」 
McIntyre says. 「I just couldn』t tolerate the length and breadth of the 
deceptive conduct toward an elderly client.」 

Ditto for a financial analyst who sued WorldCom Inc., alleging that 
the company instructed him to falsify financial records and then fired 
him for his failure to comply. 

Given the massive business number of high-profile business scandals, 
Congress has enacted legislation to combat corporate corruption. The 
Sarbanes-Oxley Act includes measures to protect 「whistle-blowers」 
who report financial wrongdoing, the first-ever that apply to 
employees at all public companies. 

But that doesn』t mean that employers won』t retaliate. Should 
you choose to take the high road of ethical conduct, you』ll still 


:^) CHAPTER 9 

undoubtedly have to struggle to figure out how to save your job and 
still do the right thing. 

There』s Strength in Numbers 

You don』t necessarily have to take on the establishment singlehandedly. 
Some people find strength and courage by banding together. 
When a high-ranking human resources executive ordered his 
benefits and compensation staff to 「fudge their numbers」 for the 
year-end audit, they collectively marched into his boss』s office to 
register a protest. This team power play effectively put an end to his 
unethical demands. 

Sadly, not every ethical professional can find power in numbers. A 
quality-control inspector for an outdoor-equipment manufacturer in 
California was upset by the lax standards her colleagues and supervisor 
were exhibiting toward certain products. This placed her in a practical 
and ethical quandary. She was uncomfortable with what she saw 
happening around her. Yet she feared reprisals if she went over her coworkers』 
heads and complained. And because her supervisor was one 
of the offending parties, she felt it would be futile to register a complaint 
with him. 

Finally, she decided to rely on her sense of what』s right to do, as well 
as her firsthand impression of the CEO as a fair-minded and responsive 
leader. Her instincts were good. The CEO took her complaint 
seriously and, without revealing the source of his information or jeopardizing 
her position, investigated and rectified the problem. 

Doing an end run around the person you directly report to isn』t always 
advisable. Before attempting it, you should evaluate your boss』s boss 
realistically. If it seems unlikely that the executive will handle the 
problem discreetly, you might want to look for another, more direct 
solution. 

An administrative assistant knew a member of her department was 
fudging expense reports, and it made her uncomfortable. Rather than 


BUSINESS ETHICS :^) 

ignore (and process) those reports, she pointed out to him that she 
thought he』d 「inadvertently」 made a mistake on his report. The word 
inadvertently was carefully chosen. It was her way of giving him the 
benefit of the doubt, as well as a way to correct the problem without 
having to admit that he』d been dishonest. It also sent a message that 
someone was watching. This encouraged him to keep more accurate 
expense reports in the future. 

Fight Subtle Pressures 

Unethical behavior doesn』t always involve conscious fraud. 
Unconscious self-deception can fuel the fire, too. For example, many 
executives tend to view unethical behavior as 「someone else』s problem」 
rather than their own, says Oak Park, Illinois, psychologist 
Laurie Anderson. If they behave in a shady manner, they justify it as a 
necessary reaction to others』 misconduct. 

「Nobody ever owns up to being an unethical person,」 Anderson says. 
「It』s everybody else who』s unethical.」 

Rationalizing ethical slips isn』t hard for people who must reconcile 
competing professional pressures. A prominent health-care attorney 
with a major Chicago law firm cites the situation in fee-for-service 
medicine, where overzealous physicians might rack up legitimate (but 
unnecessary) charges in the name of conscientiousness. 

「Never mind what the client really needs,」 says the attorney. 
「Doctors and lawyers make those decisions for them. And sometimes 
those decisions are costly.」 

Excessive demands from higher-ups can also be a factor. For example, 
consider the timekeeping wars that go on in the legal world. I spent 
five years of my career as office manager for a medium-size general 
corporate law firm and was responsible for collecting and monitoring 
attorneys』 time sheets. During my tenure, there was an ongoing push 
for associates to generate more billable hours, which in turn generated 
a silent feud among several of the associates. 


:^) CHAPTER 9 

All the firm』s associates worked similarly long hours. However, one 
associate with some particularly 「creative」 timekeeping strategies 
made it look as if he was putting in more hours than his colleagues. 
One very meticulous, hard-working associate (who put in 10-hour 
days every single day) resented his colleague』s timekeeping strategies, 
the partners』 tacit agreement to look the other way, and the subsequent 
pressure it placed on him to work harder and bill more hours, 
too. 

His personal integrity created a double bind. He didn』t feel it was his 
place to blow the whistle on his colleague, nor did he wish to put in 
more hours than he already was. He certainly wasn』t interested in 
padding his time sheets. But he worried that the partners would think 
he wasn』t productive enough. He need not have worried. Working in 
the same office with him every day, it was impossible not to notice 
how diligently he worked. 

As it turns out, both men became partners in the firm at the same time. 
Despite the conflict over billable hours, they were competent attorneys 
who achieved good results for the firm. But one was honest and capable, 
while the other was devious and manipulative. 

It would be comforting to believe that, monetarily speaking, 「crime 
doesn』t pay.」 But that isn』t always true. Sometimes, crime can be very 
lucrative. And just because the two Beech-Nut executives got caught 
doesn』t mean that the next group of corporate thieves will suffer a 
similar fate. Besides, people who don』t get caught don』t make the six 
o』clock news. 

The executives weren』t even true bad guys (although they did show 
very poor judgment, for which they paid dearly). Their intention was 
to keep their company solvent and profitable. In their own minds, 
they probably genuinely believed that the 「financial bottom line」 of 
their company was more important than the law, fair business practices, 
or their own personal reputation. What they needed was a lesson 
in 「Business Ethics 101,」 with special emphasis on personal 
integrity and social responsibility. 


BUSINESS ETHICS :^) 

Find a Role Model 

From a career perspective, if it doesn』t bother you to 「play dirty,」 it』s 
up to you. As long as you confine your activities to legal ones, you can 
let your conscience be your guide. But don』t make the mistake of 
thinking that you can』t win playing fairly. Whoever said 「nice guys 
finish last」 most assuredly wasn』t a nice guy. He obviously didn』t have 
any appreciation for the financial value of such intangibles as 
consumer trust, employee loyalty, fair business practices, or quality 
service. You don』t have to take him as your role model, either. Why 
not look for better role models with more character and integrity? 

In government, former Attorney General Janet Reno stands out for 
her principle-centered leadership. Reno wasn』t afraid to take tough 
stands and live with the consequences. As the first woman to hold the 
Attorney General』s office, she blazed new trails for women. But 
beyond the politics of gender, her ability to lead with integrity brought 
a strength of character to the role that hadn』t been seen since Bobby 
Kennedy held the office. When Reno became Attorney General, she 
announced that her decisions would be guided by one question: 

What』s the right thing to do? 

Given the intricacies and manipulations built into the legal system, 
isn』t that value-centered vision what you』d want from someone in that 
role? Reno didn』t pussyfoot around issues or talk out of both sides of 
her mouth. She said what she believed and stood by those beliefs, even 
when things didn』t turn out as she hoped. During the tragic and highly 
controversial Waco incident, in which several FBI agents and many 
followers (including children) of Branch Davidian cult leader David 
Koresh, were killed, Reno stood her ground when facing a scandal-
hungry media and announced, 「The buck stops with me.」 

More than anything, our workforce needs people who are willing to 
accept responsibility even when things go tragically wrong. 


:^) CHAPTER 9 

Defend Your Rights 

Ethics isn』t a set of moral positions; it』s a process. It』s a way of living 
in the world with integrity and self-respect. That means standing up 
for yourself when your rights have been violated and 「doing the right 
thing」 even when there』s pressure to back down. 

In the movie Philadelphia, Tom Hanks plays a corporate lawyer 
named Andrew Beckett who is fired from his senior associate』s position, 
ostensibly for incompetence. In fact, however, Beckett is certain 
he was dismissed because he』s gay and dying of AIDS. For Beckett, the 
ensuing lawsuit is as much a matter of principle as personal integrity. 
As his dying act, the once-successful attorney wants to restore his reputation 
and clear his name of any wrongdoing. 

In a poignant scene, he asks his family』s support for a lawsuit that will 
bring a great deal of public scrutiny and embarrassment to them. His 
mother shows her wholehearted support by saying: 「I didn』t raise my 
kids to sit in the back of the bus. You get in there and fight for your 
rights.」 

His mother』s blessing notwithstanding, Beckett has a hard time finding 
an attorney willing to go against his powerful former bosses and 
defend his rights. As the movie unfolds, it also becomes a story of 
growing respect between Beckett and his homophobic lawyer, played 
by Denzel Washington. Gradually, Washington』s character learns to 
see beyond his personal stereotypes and view his client as a whole, real 
person. Meanwhile, Tom Hanks』 character holds other people 
accountable for their actions—in this case, lawyers who have broken 
the law. 

There are real-life heroes who exemplify this spirit as well. If you』re 
old enough to remember baseball great Hank Aaron, you might also 
remember the year he began inching toward Babe Ruth』s home-run 
record (which he eventually broke). That year, Aaron also started 
receiving hate mail from die-hard Ruth fans who didn』t appreciate 
that a black ballplayer was about to shatter their hero』s records. The 


BUSINESS ETHICS :^) 

racist slurs surprised and disturbed him, but he never lessened his performance 
or his pursuit. 

「It never slowed me down,」 Aaron told one interviewer. 「It only 
made me stronger.」 Standing up for yourself and your beliefs takes 
strength and courage. But doing otherwise will take a serious toll on 
your self-esteem and reputation. 

A laid-off investment banker in Chicago discovered that his former 
colleagues were disparaging him to prospective employers by speculating 
about nonexistent 「performance problems.」 Rather than play 
victim, he took steps to safeguard his reputation and future. The 
banker called the firm』s office manager and explained the legal and 
ethical dilemmas that his former co-workers』 「loose tongues」 and 
「false pride」 were creating. 

Although he never directly threatened a lawsuit, his tone and comments 
implied the possibility. His strategy of straightforward communication 
effectively put an end to the gossip that was damaging his 
career prospects. The office manager quickly sent off a memo making 
it clear that the big-mouthed offenders would be held accountable for 
their off-the-record communications. 

Yes, there can be consequences when you act so aggressively. But 
standing by passively has its own consequences. What』s the point of 
keeping your job but later being sent to jail? Or keeping your job and 
losing your license to practice your profession? Or keeping your job 
and losing your soul? Or even losing your job because you kept your 
mouth shut but the company got caught anyway? 

Reshape the World 

Writer Niko Kazantzakis believed happiness comes to people who 
wear the Reformer』s mantle: those who work to remake the world in 
accord with their own beliefs and principles. 

This appears to be the goal of New York attorney general Elliot 
Spitzer, whose office launched a full-fledged frontal assault on Wall 


:^) CHAPTER 9 

Street executives and the securities industry. Looking something like a 
white-collar Rambo, he barraged Merrill Lynch with subpoenas and 
carted off loads of incriminating documents. After making hundreds 
of internal ML memos public, there was no doubt that the company 
had engaged in one of the biggest pump-and-dump stock scams in history. 


The company settled with Spitzer for $100 million. But if they thought 
they were done with him, they were wrong. Several months later, he 
captured Wall Street』s attention again by revealing that Merrill Lynch 
analysts had been recommending stocks publicly while trashing those 
same companies privately in internal e-mails. The Spitzer probe turned 
up a series of explosive internal e-mails from Merrill analysts reflecting 
their disdain for the very companies they were recommending in 
public research reports. 

Because the Merrill Lynch incidents turned out to represent standard 
industry practices, they were not the only losers in this game. Once 
they caved in, a number of other Wall Street firms admitted to the 
same unethical practices. A whole host of firms then coughed up $100 
million (or, in some cases, $50 million apiece) for a grand total of $1 
billion. 

As a result of his effort, determination, and courage, Elliot Spitzer has 
spearheaded the most sweeping changes in the securities industry in 
over 50 years. And I have a feeling we haven』t heard the last of him. 

Trust Your Inner Strength 

Our world cries out for courageous, compassionate, wise, and skillful 
leaders to provide vision and direction. Yet part of that moral complaint 
rings hollow. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, what many 
people really want is a parent to rescue them from the traumas of 
growing up. 


BUSINESS ETHICS :^) 

L. Frank Baum』s The Wizard of Oz is the allegory for our times, so 
relevant to this discussion that the tale bears repeating (if you』ve only 
seen the movie, you know only a small fraction of the story): 
A cyclone rips through the Kansas prairie, where Dorothy 
lives in childhood bliss with her Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, 
and faithful dog Toto. The tornado tears the house from its 
foundation and carries it to a strange land Dorothy has 
never seen before. The countryside is beautiful and filled 
with strange sights, but Dorothy wants the safety of her 
aunt』s arms. Without realizing that the ruby slippers she』s 
wearing have the power to carry her home, she sets off down 
the Yellow Brick Road to ask the all-powerful Wizard of Oz 
to help her. 

Along the way, she meets up with the Scarecrow, who wants 
to travel with her to Oz to ask for brains. Poor Scarecrow 
believes that there』s nothing worse than being a fool, and 
thinks he』s stupid even though he』s really just young and 
inexperienced. Already he knows two things for certain: to 
be afraid of lighted matches, and how little he knows. Some 
people might call that wisdom. 

The Scarecrow asks Dorothy to describe Kansas. When she 
explains how gray it was, he can』t understand why she 
wants to return to such a dreary place. 

「That is because you have no brains!」 Dorothy tells him. 
「No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people 
of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other 
country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.」 

「Of course, I cannot understand it,」 says the Scarecrow. 「If 
your heads were stuffed with straw, like mine, you would 
probably all live in the beautiful places, and then Kansas 
would have no people at all. It is fortunate for Kansas that 
you have brains.」 


:^) CHAPTER 9 

After a while, their journey is interrupted by groans from a 
man made of tin, whose joints have become rusted from disuse. 
When they oil his joints, he sighs with satisfaction and 
thanks them for saving his life. Hearing of their mission, he 
asks to join them on their journey because he would like a 
heart. 

The Tin Woodsman』s story is a painful one. For much of his 
life, he was a woodsman who cared for his elderly mother. 
After his mother died, he fell in love with a Munchkin girl 
and wanted to marry her. But the girl』s caretaker was an old 
woman who wanted the girl to cook and do housework for 
her forever. So the old woman got the Wicked Witch of the 
East to enchant the woodsman』s ax, which made him cut off 
his own legs, arms, and head. The tinsmith replaced each 
part of the woodsman』s body with a new tin part, but in the 
process, the woodsman lost his heart (and thus his love for 
the Munchkin girl). He stopped caring whether he married 
her or not. 

The Tin Woodsman was proud of his new body, which no 
one could cut or hurt ever again. But rust was his enemy. He 
spent a year rusted in place, which gave him plenty of time 
to think. He decided that the greatest loss he suffered was 
his heart, because you can』t be happy if you can』t love, and 
you can』t love without a heart. 

While the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodsman debate whether 
it』s better to have brains or a heart, Dorothy worries about 
what she』ll eat, since she can』t live without food. Hearing 
her concern, the Scarecrow uses the wits he doesn』t have to 
gather nuts for her dinner from nearby trees. 

Their next problem arises when they』re 「attacked」 by a 
Lion who tries to scare them with his roar. When Dorothy 
calls his bluff and tells him he』s a coward, he breaks down 

190 



BUSINESS ETHICS :^) 

weeping. To his great sorrow, the king of the jungle lacks the 
courage to fulfill his destiny. 

「My life is simply unbearable without a bit of courage,」 he 
says. So when the Lion hears of their journey, he decides to 
tag along and ask the Wizard of Oz for help. 

As they travel companionably together, they encounter 
many problems and challenges. They conquer each obstacle 
by using the brains, heart, and courage they think they lack. 

The Wizard, of course, turns out to be a fraud. But he is also 
a good man who manages to give Scarecrow a brain made 
from pins and needles, the Tin Woodsman a red cloth heart, 
and the Lion a magic potion for courage. But he doesn』t 
have an effective strategy to get Dorothy home to Kansas. 
For that, they need the good witch Glinda, who knows how 
to use her powers wisely. First, she arranges to install 
Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Lion in leadership roles 
throughout the kingdom where each can use their newly 
found talents to rule. Then she shows Dorothy how to use 
the power of her ruby slippers to return home. 

Once you realize that Dorothy』s journey is a dream, the story is easier 
to interpret. From a psychoanalytic point of view, the Scarecrow, 
Tin Woodsman, and Lion are parts of Dorothy』s self that she』s struggling 
to integrate. But she』s terrified of separating from the safe world 
where her loving aunt and uncle care for all her needs. By the end of 
the adventure, though, Dorothy has grown in stature and become a 
more confident, self-assertive person. 

Dorothy』s lesson is a universal one: that we all need to separate from 
the powerful figures of our childhood to cultivate the wisdom, compassion, 
courage, and skill we need for our life』s journey. 

Dorothy needed the good witch Glinda to show her how to use the 
power she already had. This is what teachers, leaders, and mentors are 


:^) CHAPTER 9 

really for. And despite what respondents to the Patterson and Kim survey 
may think, there are always real role models or heroes whose 
examples you can learn from and follow. You just have to cultivate the 
eyes with which to see. 

The cry of our times is for more responsible participation. As Herbert 
Hoover believed: 「We need to add to the three R』s, namely Reading, 
『Riting, and 『Rithmetic, a fourth—Responsibility.」 If you accept the 
responsibility to fulfill your destiny, you must cultivate all the skills of 
responsible participation: courage, compassion, wisdom, and initiative. 
Ignore your longing for a White Knight. You are your own White 
Knight now. Cultivate the leader within yourself and make that person 
someone who isn』t afraid to care. 

There are plenty of reasons to live an ethical life. But the very best reason 
to do it is for yourself. Integrity stands at the heart of self-esteem, 
and self-esteem is a crucial pillar of a happy life. If you can』t respect 
yourself, you won』t respect other people, either. And you won』t like 
the life you』re living, because you won』t like the person who』s living it. 

When you get lost in the daily shuffle, tell yourself the Oz story. And 
remember the moral of the story: The Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, 
the Lion, and Dorothy all had the tools within themselves to achieve 
their deepest, most heartfelt desires. 

Next time you head out the door for work, see how it feels to carry 
some compassion in your heart, some fire in your belly for the fight, 
and all the wisdom of your experience with you. 


BUSINESS ETHICS :^) 

(continues) 
193 
Business Ethics: What』s Your Bottom Line? 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. How ethical is the organization you work for? (Circle one.) 
Very Somewhat So-so The pits 
2. Where are they most likely to cut corners? 
3. Do you generally agree with their values and priorities? 
4. Have you ever been asked to do something that you felt was 
unethical? How did you respond? 
5. Were you satisfied with the way you handled the situation? 
6. Is there anything you should have done differently? 
7. Have you ever ignored unethical behavior? Was it because you 
didn』t want to get involved? Hate confrontation? Feared 
reprisal? 

:^) CHAPTER 9 

(continued) 

8. Do you believe that a certain amount of lying and cheating is 
normal and acceptable business practice? 
9. If you insisted on more honest and ethical business practices, 
would it jeopardize your career mobility? 
10. Would more ethical business practices interfere with your 
organization』s ability to compete? 
11. Do you believe that the financial bottom line is the most 
important consideration in any business? 
12. Would you personally break the law to protect the bottom line? 
13. Would you treat people unfairly to improve the bottom line? 
14. Would you skimp on customer service to help your company』s 
financial status? 

15. Would you describe yourself as an ethical person? 
16. Do your responses to questions 9 through 14 support your 
beliefs? 
17. When you have an ethical conflict, whom are you most likely to 
consult? 

194 



BUSINESS ETHICS :^) 

18. How would you describe that person』s character? 
19. 
If you believe your organization suffers from bad business 
ethics, is there anything you can do to improve those practices? 
20. Have you ever participated in an ethics training program? 

CHAPTER 10 


Work/Life Balance: Making a 
Life While Making a Living 


There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way, and 
not to give others absurd maddening claims upon it. 

—Christopher Morley 

W
W
oody Allen likes to tell a story about 
the time he got kicked out of school 
for cheating on an exam. It was a 

metaphysics class and he tried to look into his classmate』s soul. 

You can』t copy someone else』s soul and call it the 「right answer.」 But 
when it comes to finding a path to the Good Life, many people try. 
They follow a prefabricated career track others have created for them 
and hope it will lead to fulfillment. It rarely does. Everyone must find 
his or her own personal vision of happiness. The road to career satisfaction 
isn』t always easy, though. Often, the initial task of thinking for 
yourself to determine your true goals can involve a painful separation 
process. 

Some of the most difficult decisions involve the need to balance work 
and family. I can only imagine how difficult that balance must have 
been for George W. Bush』s trusted advisor Karen Hughes who, prior 
to her departure from the White House, had been called 「the most 
influential person」 in Bush』s political life. Despite her close ties to the 
President, she and her husband wanted her son to grow up in Texas, 
and she wanted to be there with him to watch him grow up and do all 
the things that an involved mom does for her kids. 


:^) CHAPTER 10 

Much as she loves politics and political life, Hughes believes that her 
most important responsibility in life is to be a good parent; so she 
chose to put her family ahead of her service to government. However, 
it was clear to everyone involved that, even from Texas, she would still 
be actively involved with President Bush and his administration. 

Whereas many people struggle to balance work and family, others feel 
pressured to figure out what kind of work they really want to do for 
the rest of their lives. Glenn Hilburn is 34 years old. He has an undergraduate 
degree in business and nursing and a history of great success 
in two careers (Registered Nurse and IT manager). But he also discovered 
that 「success didn』t equate to happiness.」 

At first he enjoyed his work and was proud of his success. But then his 
definition of success began to change. With that change in vantage 
point came the realization that he was no longer happy with his work. 
Although he had been contemplating a change for nearly a year, he 
just couldn』t find the right time. The longer he waited, the more 
depressed and lost he felt. 

Says Hilburn: 「I awoke on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11 and 
instantly wondered how many of the thousands of people that perished 
in the twin towers had been contemplating a change in career. 
Certainly, as a result of that tragic day, they would never have the 
chance to make that change. That morning was a life-changing time 
as I decided that I wouldn』t continue the contemplation and risk 
losing my chance; so I went to work that morning and tendered my 
resignation, much to the shock and dismay of my superiors and 
colleagues.」 

His colleagues and superiors tried to dissuade him from this rash decision, 
but Hilburn was firm in his resolve. During the next three weeks, 
he was 「floored」 by how many people approached him to tell him 
how much they respected his decision and really wished they had 
the courage to take that same step. Fortunately, Hilburn had the 
financial resources and emotional strength to leave his job, even 
though he wasn』t sure exactly what he wanted to do next. In a perfect 


WORK/LIFE BALANCE :^) 

world, it would always be so. But, in the real world, there can be other 
exigencies. 

A partner in a prestigious Chicago law firm hated his job and wanted 
out. Sales appealed most to him, but his wife (who was also, coincidentally, 
a nurse) fought the idea. She feared a drop in family income 
and, more importantly, a loss of prestige. She loved the status she 
enjoyed as the wife of a high-powered lawyer, even if he hated his job. 
She wasn』t a bad person. She didn』t want her husband to be unhappy. 
She just wanted to go on living the life she was living. She wanted him 
to want that, too. He caved in to her pressure not to change. But the 
hopelessness of his situation depressed him terribly. Not only did he 
hate his work, he resented his wife for not supporting his desire to 
switch. It became a lose-lose proposition that made him feel as if he 
was 「doing time」 instead of living life. 

It』s easy to abdicate responsibility for personal life choices. But it 
almost never turns out right. Instead of living on automatic pilot, ask 
yourself where your work fits within the context of a whole life. Is it 
simply a way to keep bill collectors from your door? A vehicle for a 
lavish lifestyle? Or, perhaps, something more spiritual? Do you want 
your work to be the centerpiece of your existence? Or part of a more 
integrated lifestyle? 

When was the last time you gave any thought to these kinds of questions? 
If you』re like most people, it was probably back in college when 
the 「meaning of life」 was a more burning issue. After that, you got 
too busy to figure it out. Or perhaps you decided that the meaning of 
life is in the way you live it day by day. 

Take a Break 

Time is your most precious commodity. Like it or not, you probably 
give a major chunk of it to work. But how large a chunk do you really 
want to give? It』s up to you, whether you realize it or not. 

The Protestant work ethic has built a nose-to-the-grindstone, shoulder-
to-the-wheel mentality into our collective psyches. This notion 


:^) CHAPTER 10 

makes it difficult to justify taking time out (or off) to think about your 
goals and dreams. And as the pace in our technological society 
accelerates, it』s becoming even harder to carve out quiet time for 
figuring things out. Yet 「inner time」 is crucial to good decision making. 
Without it, you never really gain enough perspective and 
self-knowledge to set your own course. 

As director of the Center for Interim Programs in Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, Neil Bull spends a fair amount of time convincing people 
that it』s OK for them to take time off to figure out what they want 
to do and where they want to do it. Mostly, he works with high school 
graduates to design yearlong sabbaticals that will better prepare them 
for college. To date, he has nearly 4,000 such programs to his credit. 
One of his greatest challenges is dealing with the protests of parents 
(usually the dads) who believe their kids will be led astray if they don』t 
immediately move on to higher education. Despite their fears, every 
teen he』s helped so far has gone on to college. So much for 「father 
knows best.」 

Bull offers these kids 「find yourself」 time—a year to learn about 
the world and themselves. The programs include opportunities for 
adventure and discovery as well as play, and bring the teens greater 
confidence and newfound direction. It』s a year that most adults also 
desperately need but seldom get. Bull remembers doing verbal battle 
with former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth over the built-in 
values of a success-driven culture. Although he didn』t convince 
Ueberroth (who is troubled by health problems) to give up the chase, 
he has convinced others to come around to his way of thinking. 

When he was top dog for Merrill Lynch & Company, Don Regan 
approached Bull with an intriguing assignment: plan sabbaticals for a 
pair of high-ranking, 60-something Merrill Lynchers to reward them 
for their 30 years of devoted service. Regan (who was later hired and 
fired by the Reagan administration) hoped the sabbaticals would help 
the veteran executives bridge the gap into retirement and help them 
think more creatively about their options. 


WORK/LIFE BALANCE :^) 

When I asked Bull why people needed help planning their time off, he 
responded bluntly: 「Most people have no imagination or training. 
Unless you tell them exactly what to do and how to do it, they can』t 
find a ZIP code in southern Illinois.」 

「Come on,」 I said. 「We』re talking senior executives here, not high 
school kids.」 

What Bull said next was fascinating: 「Most people are terrified to 
take time off. The fear factor is so rampant that when they let go for 
even a few weeks (not to mention months), they feel like they』re writing 
their own obituary.」 

The worry is that if your employer can get along without you for several 
months or a year, management might conclude that they can do 
without you forever. If you』re in the office 60 to 80 hours a week, you 
can protect your territory better. This logic makes some sense. 
However, are you sure you really want the territory you』re so fiercely 
defending? Or are you just protecting it because it』s yours? If you let 
go and allow the company to make do in your absence, you might be 
surprised at what happens to you. Once out, many people express no 
desire to ever go back. 

Thinking of a Permanent Vacation? 

A facilities manager in Boulder, Colorado, needed to detoxify from his 
60-hour work weeks, so he took advantage of his company『s personal 
leave-of-absence program. Suddenly, he had time to bike, play tennis, 
and do volunteer work. The manager liked his more-relaxed 
lifestyle so much, he never returned. Instead, he took early retirement 
and started his own company. 

In his 22 years at Rohm and Haas Company in Philadelphia, 
researcher John Lopuszanski has seen many employees come and go. 
But the one who stands out most in his mind is a senior chemist who 
was given officially sanctioned time off to finish her Ph.D. She was 
even guaranteed a job when she returned. Rohm and Haas was true 


:^) CHAPTER 10 

to its word. The chemist completed her education and she did come 
back. But she didn』t stay very long. 「At the time, there weren』t a lot 
of female chemists with Ph.D.s. It didn』t take long for her to realize 
how marketable she was and move on,」 says Lopuszanski. 

In another scenario, a commercial banker in San Francisco negotiated 
a six-month personal leave to complete her fine-arts degree. After 
returning to the bank as promised, she discovered that her heart (and 
now her degree) were really in photography. She soon quit to become 
a photographer full time. 

If you』re considering stepping away, getting the go-ahead from your 
employer isn』t the main problem, says Neil Bull. Instead, it』s whether 
you can give yourself permission to take time off. He believes that 
we』ve all been afflicted by John Calvin and the Protestant work ethic, 
and personally curses him every morning for making people feel guilty 
every time they take a break. 

Time away can be truly restorative. Even if you like your work, it can 
help you reconnect with yourself and the aspects of your life you find 
important. Damona Sam, a 40-something counselor and assistant professor 
at the Community College of Philadelphia, would have to agree. 
A year off from her job, where she』s one of two counselors assigned to 
5,000 students, was just what she needed to recover her health and a 
piece of her sanity. Although the school would only agree to pay her 
half-salary (plus full benefits), the psychologist jumped at the chance 
to relax and recoup. 

Sam had her first child while still in the process of writing her doctoral 
dissertation. However rewarding, both activities took a real physical 
and emotional toll. Indeed, her first priority was to get her health 
back. Her second goal was to get reacquainted with her husband and 
spend more time with her son. Beyond that, she took her leave one day 
at a time, hoping to get in touch with her own needs and desires. 

Five months into the sabbatical, she noticed that her experience of 
time had changed dramatically. 「I feel like I』m living in a different 


WORK/LIFE BALANCE :^) 

time frame,」 says Sam. 「I was always a 『human doer.』 Now I spend 
time just 『being.』 It』s like a gift from the heavens to take time off—a 
gift I thank God for every single morning.」 Sam』s 「being」 time is the 
existential time she takes for herself to walk along the lake, watch the 
sunrise, or jog slowly through the park. It』s time that』s governed by 
inner rhythms and unrestrained by schedules or clocks. 

You can probably identify with Sam』s time-management dilemma. On 
a typical workday, she must juggle a full plate of family and career 
responsibilities. Although she accepts responsibility for her commitments, 
they leave her drained and exhausted. She partly blames the 
advent of computers and other labor-saving devices designed to make 
us all more efficient. They increase our expectations and push us to do 
more, rather than use any time saved for leisure and relaxation, she 
says. 

Starting a Whole New Life 

Time off can also become the impetus for a dramatic lifestyle change. 
When Arkansas attorney Frank Mackey took a summer leave of 
absence from his corporate law firm, it was with the intention of 
exploring the Chicago job market. Specifically, the 60-something 
Mackey wanted to know whether he had a chance of cracking the 
commercial acting market. Within six weeks, he had his answer. He 
returned to Little Rock just long enough to sell his partnership in the 
firm and pack his bags. 

Like many established professionals, Mackey was longing for more 
than a job change. He wanted a whole new life—a chance to start over 
in a completely different place doing something entirely new. It was a 
decision that came with a very high price tag—but not one that he 
regrets. Mackey』s wife has a well-launched legal career of her own in 
Little Rock. For her, Chicago winters aren』t desirable. Neither is the 
idea of starting over. A short stint with a commuter marriage didn』t 
prove satisfying, either. So, the Mackeys decided to go their separate 
ways. 


:^) CHAPTER 10 

Other couples fare better. Connie Evans and her husband Craig were 
long-time employees of Ameritech in Chicago. She was a secretarial 
supervisor; he was an engineer. Together, they earned a comfortable 
living, owned an attractive suburban home, and were able to save for 
the future. The only problem: Connie was totally miserable. Although 
she did her job competently, she hated the office politics. She longed 
to work in a more comfortable, creative environment. She desperately 
wanted out of corporate America, but didn』t know where she wanted 
her career to go. One weekend, when she and Craig were driving 
through the Wisconsin countryside, the answer shouted out to her. 
They』d buy a bed-and-breakfast inn and move to the country. 

They began to research the B&B market, talking to owners, scouting 
locations, and getting a feel for the finances. The idea only grew on 
them. Then, Connie started spending her Sundays driving to various 
Wisconsin inns to check them out. Soon, she found and fell in love 
with the Port Washington Inn, a lovely, affordable B&B just 30 minutes 
outside Milwaukee. 

They realized that they could afford it if Connie cashed in her 401(k). 
But they knew they couldn』t live entirely on profits from the inn. So 
Craig approached his boss about a transfer and got the green light for 
his job to move to Milwaukee. 

After their bid on the inn was accepted, the rest of the wheels were set 
in motion. They fixed up their house, put it on the market, and sold it 
in about two months. Connie gave notice at her job and, in a remarkably 
short time, they were gone. 

Connie took to her new career like the proverbial duck to water. She』s 
always been a homebody who loves to entertain, garden, and cook 
gourmet meals. Even dreaded chores such as laundry and housework 
don』t particularly bother her. 

Personally, I was a little skeptical about this blissfully perfect solution. 
I wanted to check it out for myself. So one Saturday after giving a 
workshop in Milwaukee, I took the half-hour trek to spend the 
evening with Connie and Craig. Port Washington is a small town on 


WORK/LIFE BALANCE :^) 

Lake Michigan, which means there』s some good, steady tourist trade 
to sustain it. It』s also a true 30 minutes from Milwaukee, making it an 
attractively short commute. 

The house is beautiful: carefully restored and lovingly attended. 
Connie』s care and handiwork are everywhere. Every room is decorated 
in its own theme. No detail has been missed—from fancy soaps and 
creams in the private bathrooms to candies on the nightstand. On 
weekends, they prepare gourmet breakfasts for their guests; and on 
weekdays, they set out fresh-baked goods. To do so, Connie spends a 
fair amount of time with her nose buried in cookbooks, experimenting 
with new recipes. 

As a host and hostess, they』re warm and hospitable. Your wish is their 
command. Even their dog, Woody, looks totally content. And well 
he should, since he』s treated like a veritable prince: well-fed, well-
exercised, and much loved. 

It isn』t perfect. Nothing is. They have to work hard to keep the B&B 
operating. It has taken effort to ingratiate themselves to the community. 
And Craig still works at Ameritech, when he might, perhaps, prefer 
to join Connie at home. It』s a very fair compromise, though. More 
than ever before, they love the life they』re living. 

Less Is More? 

A pervasive hunger for a simpler, less stressful life showed up clearly 
in a Time magazine survey of 500 professional adults. Just consider 
the following: 

■ 
69 percent of the respondents wanted to 「slow down and live a 
more relaxed life.」 
■ 
61 percent agreed that it takes so much effort to earn a living that 
it』s difficult to find time to enjoy life (that』s why you need to find 
a way to enjoy the way you make a living). 
■ 
89 percent felt it was important to spend more time with their 
families. 
■ 
56 percent wanted more time for personal interests and hobbies. 

:^) CHAPTER 10 

Many of these would-be slow-trackers hunger for country or small-
town living. However, it』s easy to overidealize that lifestyle. Rural life 
isn』t typically an easy answer; more often, it』s an adventure that 
should be reserved for people who come from pioneer stock. 

Life on the Slow Track 
A new breed of career trendsetters is making life in the slow lane look 
mighty good. In Downshifting (1991, HarperCollins), business journal-
ist Amy Saltzman identifies five different models you can use to get 
more control over your work and life: 
1. Backtrackers arrange for their own demotions so that they can 
have more time and less stress. 
2. Plateauers intentionally stay in place. They turn down promo-
tions because they don』t want the increased pressures of more 
responsibility. 
3. Career-shifters transfer their skills to less stressful fields. 
4. Self-employers go solo to have more control over their work 
hours and location. 
5. Urban escapees opt for more hospitable, relaxing environments 
in the country, small towns, or the great outdoors. 
In the movie Baby Boom, Diane Keaton is a successful marketing consultant 
in New York City. A star on the rise, her relentless ambition 
fuels her workaholism. Not the least bit introspective, her only signs 
of discontent are revealed in her irrational desire to read and clip real-
estate ads for country homes. 

Keaton』s life changes dramatically when she inherits a baby from a 
distant cousin. Soon, Keaton discovers the perils of combining single 
motherhood with a fast-track career. Good child care is tough to 
come by and time is at an absolute premium. When she can』t give her 
career the single-minded attention she once did, an ambitious young 


WORK/LIFE BALANCE :^) 

executive (in the form of James Spader) moves in on her territory and 
grabs her prized account. As her partnership opportunities fade into 
oblivion, Keaton is offered a new role on the 「slow track.」 

It is a blow to her pride and she can』t agree to it. Suddenly, that country 
home looks mighty appealing. So the impulsive Keaton quits her 
job, buys a house from a real-estate agent sight unseen, and moves to 
the country with her baby. 

Picture this: Here』s a woman who』s always lived in a luxurious high-
rise and whose attention and energy have been focused entirely on 
climbing the corporate ladder. Within a few days, she』s living in a rundown 
house, playing mother to a child to whom she』s grown attached, 
and living an isolated life in a small town where the natives aren』t 
exactly welcoming her. The winters are cold, and her home needs 
major repairs at a time when she has no income. 

She needs a job. But there isn』t much call for marketing consultants in 
her community and she doesn』t know how to do more everyday labor. 
Eventually, she finds a dormant entrepreneurial drive inside her that 
spawns the start-up of Country Baby, a gourmet baby-food company 
targeted toward baby-boomer parents like herself. 

Because the movie is a Hollywood fairy tale, Country Baby becomes 
a spectacular success. Keaton』s former employer contacts her with a 
$3 million buyout offer and, to sweeten the deal, offers to keep her as 
the CEO of Country Baby. Only then does she realize that she doesn』t 
need or want 「the rat race」 anymore. She can make it on her own, 
even if it means turning down a cool $3 million. Of course, there』s a 
new lover in the background fueling Keaton』s desire for a comfortable 
relationship and a life where love does, indeed, conquer all. 

Moving Someplace Else Isn』t Always 
the Answer 

Ignoring the movie』s spectacular finale, Keaton』s small-town 
experience does actually parallel that of many big-city folk who 


:^) CHAPTER 10 

underestimate the difficult challenges that come with the transition to 
a supposedly simple life. Most of the time, you don』t just waltz into a 
ready-made lifestyle; you create it with your own vision and skill. 

「What people don』t realize is that there』s a difference between a summer 
vacation and a lifestyle,」 says Sharon Schuster, editor of Re 
Careering Newsletter in Lake Bluff, Illinois. Schuster, who』s been 
studying these changes since 1986 when she was downsized out of a 
public-relations job with AT&T, says geographic cures are like comfort 
foods. 

「When people are reeling from the emotional trauma of losing a job, 
they』re looking for comfort, fun—something to make them feel 
good,」 she says. 「But the reality is that these aren』t always easy life 
choices, either.」 

After several ratings guides recently touted Fayetteville, Arkansas, as 
the darling of relocators, Schuster tracked down several urban 
refugees who migrated there in search of a better life. One was former 
Chicagoan Linda Ray, who moved down at age 50. To her dismay, 
Ray discovered that the town』s economy didn』t greet every transplant 
with open arms. She found that there wasn』t much of a market for her 
broad communication skills in such a small community. It also didn』t 
help that there was considerable competition for lesser positions from 
university students and faculty spouses. She』d never imagined it would 
be so hard for her to get a toehold. She was forced to fall back on the 
proceeds from the sale of her house to support herself. 

Ray saved her career by launching her own marketing services business, 
eventually narrowing her focus to advertising. By joining the 
local chamber of commerce and volunteering for several community 
activities, she slowly integrated herself into the town and achieved the 
less-frenetic pace she had so desired. 

Despite her early financial difficulties, she doesn』t regret her decision 
to leave Chicago and is pleased with the new life she』s created in 
Fayetteville. But she warns prospective transplants to be realistic 
about the employment opportunities. 「It could take a good solid year 


WORK/LIFE BALANCE :^) 

to get established,」 says Ray, 「so you』d better have a full year』s living 
expenses set aside before moving day.」 

To minimize potential disillusionment, Schuster recommends investigating 
what it would be like to live elsewhere before packing your 
bags. Use your vacation time to check out the job market, talk to 
locals, and determine just how feasible your plan is. 

「A little reality-testing can go a long way,」 says Schuster. For example, 
she says that if you plan to start a business, 「you』d better make 
sure there are enough resources available to you. A phone and a fax 
may not be enough.」 Top on her list of 「musts」: a decent postal system, 
a good library or research institution, and a regional airport. 

Alternative Work Arrangements 

With so much change in the workplace, there are also opportunities 
for creative and resourceful people to invent new ways of working. 
Three of those concepts are addressed in this section: telecommuting, 
part-timing, and job-sharing. 

Telecommuting 

Some savvy professionals mitigate the financial risk of moving to a 
more relaxed town by negotiating to take their current jobs with 
them. If you can』t arrange a transfer, telecommuting might be a viable 
option. To carve out such an arrangement, though, you need three 
things: job responsibilities that are truly portable, an employer who 
doesn』t want to lose you, and the ability to remain motivated and self-
disciplined without traditional office structures. 

Telecommuting isn』t a license to play hooky on someone else』s dollar. 
It』s an alternative work arrangement that buys you a lot more flexibility, 
but depends on your ability to produce results from afar. 

A computer-software consultant was transferred from his New 
Orleans home to Washington, D.C. It did wonders for his career, 
but it wasn』t that great for the rest of his life. After three years, he was 


:^) CHAPTER 10 

terribly homesick for his friends. He submitted his resignation, intending 
to return to New Orleans to look for a new job. But because the 
company valued him greatly, they suggested that he set up an office in 
his home in New Orleans and remain on their payroll. He accepted 
eagerly: He loved his job; he just loved New Orleans more. 

The arrangement proved win-win. Not only does he love the freedom 
of working at home, he』s amazed at how much he actually accomplishes 
in a day without the distractions of office life. 

Solutions like these aren』t easy to come by. Nor are they dumb luck. 
They result from on-the-job brilliance. When you』re great at what you 
do and your bosses appreciate your work, you almost always have 
more options available to you. 

Going Part-Time 

Obviously, brilliance alone won』t get you permission for an alternative 
work arrangement. You』ll also probably have to do some skillful 
prodding of your employer. When Wall Street Journal columnist Hal 
Lancaster interviewed Rosemary Mans, she discussed her desire to 
carve out more time for her family without destroying her career credibility 
with San Francisco–based Bank of America. It took a full year 
of convincing to get the bank to allow her to become a part-time vice 
president of flexibility programs. She admits it was a hard decision 
and a hard sell. Flexible work options—such as a part-time schedule 
or telecommuting—are generally considered career poison. If you try 
this approach, you』ll probably be considered less committed to the 
organization, less serious about your career, and a nuisance to management 
(because you』re never there when they need you). 

Still, if you want to go ahead, there are ways to sell your employer on 
the idea. For example, you can say that as a part-timer, you』ll be more 
focused and productive during the hours you work. You』ll be able to 
provide better customer service because you』ll have more energy for it. 
You might even save your employer some money on benefits 
(although this isn』t a great advantage for you). 


WORK/LIFE BALANCE :^) 

Job-Sharing 

Job-sharing offers another viable way to balance work and family 
responsibilities without burning yourself out or destroying your career 
path. The concept of job-sharing involves two people sharing one full-
time job by working at different times of the day or on different days. 
Working Woman magazine recently applauded Laura Palumbo Meier 
and Loriann Meagher for their career savvy in lobbying Xerox to let 
them share a sales-management position in their Lexington, 
Massachusetts, office. 

No manager had ever asked to job-share before. But the former sales 
rivals (each were 13-year veterans) convinced their bosses to let them 
try. Now they』re among the highest-ranking Xerox executives to successfully 
share a job. 

For those who are interested in more flexible options, Lancaster recommends 
the following guidelines: 

1. 
Don』t just ask for favors. Put together a realistic proposal that 
outlines the performance goals and objectives you』ll meet under 
your new schedule. 
Meier and Meagher drafted a detailed, 30-page proposal and 
revised it three times until it adequately addressed the concerns of 
their immediate boss and the human resources department. In it, 
they spelled out their schedules, day-to-day tasks, and plans for 
managing the sales team. 

2. 
Make your manager your best friend. Your boss needs to trust 
you and feel comfortable with your working arrangement. 
Before Meier and Meagher ever submitted their plan, they talked 
it over with their boss, Janice Orlando Duplisea. A working mom 
herself, Duplisea empathized with their concerns and challenged 
them to convince her they could really make it work. When the 
two demonstrated their commitment to the idea, Duplisea 
became the real catalyst. 


:^) CHAPTER 10 

3. 
Stay abreast of developments. When you』re out of the information 
loop, it』s easy for things to fall through the cracks. 
Meagher and Meier make it their business to share information 
so that neither one of them will fall from grace. They have a formal 
communication system to update each other, as well as a 
flowchart of how issues will be resolved. 

It』s difficult to anticipate every problem that will occur under a 
more flexible schedule and to have systems in place to resolve 
them. Thus, you need to have people you trust to keep you 
informed, or else you run the risk of obsolescence. 

Meier and Meagher were smart enough to understand that they 
each had different strengths and weaknesses. They divvied up 
their responsibilities and schedules accordingly. Example: Since 
Meagher has an extensive background in leasing and financing, 
she』s responsible for writing up the sales forecasts. Meier, who』s 
stronger at personnel issues, handles the lion』s share of employee 
reviews. But before they finalize and sign off on any documents, 
they go over them together. 

4. 
Make sure that home and family commitments don』t completely 
outweigh work priorities. If you don』t adjust your schedule to 
accommodate true office emergencies, you』ll quickly send the 
message that (a) you』re not a team player; and (b) you can』t be 
counted on. After that, don』t be surprised to find your credibility 
seriously in jeopardy. You』ll be left out of important meetings, 
miss out on information (large and small), and generally feel 
alienated from workplace events. 
Meagher and Meier make a point of showing their dedication to 
the workplace team. Although they』re both working moms with 
family commitments, they also make sure they look like ambitious, 
goal-oriented professionals who take their careers equally 
seriously. 


WORK/LIFE BALANCE :^) 

When you deviate from tradition, you』ll undoubtedly encounter some 
skeptics and critics who prefer conformity to imaginative problem-
solving. You can follow their tired prescriptions for success, or take 
your cues from someone like Robert Shaw, conductor of the Atlanta 
Symphony Orchestra. At the 20th anniversary of the Kennedy Center, 
Shaw was one of six performing artists honored for a lifetime of 
achievement. Said Shaw: 「The only crescendo of importance is the 
crescendo of the human heart.」 Another musical great gave similar 
advice. In a conversation between pianist Vladimir Horowitz and 
Arturo Toscanini, the great conductor cautioned Horowitz to take his 
own counsel: 「If you want to please the critics, don』t play too loud, 
too soft, too fast, too slow.」 

Pay Attention to Yourself 

You can devise a zillion creative solutions for conflicts between your 
work and personal life. But they all require some introspection. 
Change comes from the inside out, so you have to pay attention to 
yourself. As Mary Nissenson Scheer says, 「You don』t need someone 
else to tell you when you』re in love. You trust your instincts.」 In her 
opinion, most people don』t trust their gut enough. They look to others 
to hand them ready-made answers that seldom (if ever) work. 
Until you learn to heed the signal from your own heart, it doesn』t matter 
what others want and think you should do. 

Peggy Simonsen, president of Career Directions in Rolling Meadows, 
Illinois, tells a fable about what happens to people who listen too 
much to others』 dictates. 

Two men were taking an ass to market for sale. Since they 
had many miles to travel, they took turns riding on the animal』s 
back. First, one man would ride while the other 
walked. Then, they』d reverse roles. 

Halfway through the journey, they stopped for a drink. As 

they rested, an old friend passed by and stopped to visit. 

「Look at that poor animal, 「the friend said. 「It』s totally 


:^) CHAPTER 10 

worn out. While you two ride in luxury, that poor creature 

is getting heat exhaustion.」 

The men agreed. The animal did look tired. Refreshed from 
their break, they decided to walk the rest of the way. For the 
next few miles, they trudged down the long, dusty road. 

Soon, they bumped into a local merchant who was also 
bringing his wares to market. The merchant eyed the ass 
skeptically. 

「If you want to get any money for that animal at all,」 he 
said, 「you』d better carry it the rest of the way. Otherwise, it 
won』t be worth a plugged nickel.」 

The two men were tired, but the merchant did seem to have 
a point. So they scrounged around in the woods for tree 
branches that』d be sturdy enough to support the animal』s 
weight. They tied its hoofs to the makeshift poles and hoisted 
the upside-down animal gingerly onto their shoulders, 
trying to distribute the weight evenly. 

Trudging ever more wearily along, they arrived at a bridge 
stretched across some whirling rapids: the last leg of the 
journey. As they negotiated the steep incline, one of the men 
suddenly tripped on a small stone and toppled sideways. He 
lurched against the railing, taking the poles—ass and all— 
with him. Unable to stop the momentum, the other man also 
lost his balance. Helplessly, they watched the ass collapse 
into the water and drown. 

When I heard the tale, Simonsen was speaking to a packed house of 
college students who were waiting expectantly for her conclusion. 
「What do you think is the moral of the story?」 she asked. 
Silence, except for a few uncomfortable giggles. 
「Listen to everyone』s advice and you will surely lose your ass.」 



WORK/LIFE BALANCE :^) 

Start on the Right Foot 

If your job doesn』t allow much calendar and clock freedom, you might 
find yourself fighting for every moment of free time you get. It helps 
if you can clarify your needs (and your employer』s expectations) soon 
after you』re hired. Then, after you』ve agreed on a schedule, you won』t 
have to justify your actions every time you leave at 5 p.m. or don』t 
come in on the weekends. Even if you can』t get much schedule flexibility, 
you can still set realistic limits to your workday. As Emerson 
said: 「If you can』t be free, be as free as you can. 

Five Career Fantasies 
Everyone dreams about what they would do if they didn』t have to 
work. How many of these common career fantasies have you caught 
yourself yearning for? 
Hitting the Road 
Jack Kerouac fantasies of hitting the open road. Getting behind the 
wheel of a car—or better yet, an 18-wheeler—and being out in the 
wild blue yonder, making your own plans, no one looking over your 
shoulder, no office politics to worry about. 
Taking a Big Risk 
Living a life of adventure: racing cars, climbing mountains, fighting 
fires, catching crooks. 
Being More Creative 
Writing, painting, acting, drawing. Taking some creative risks. Being a 
creative person. Developing more creativity. 
Tahiti, Inc. 
Moving somewhere fun like a tropical island. 
Make a Contribution 
Doing something that』s not 「just」 about making money. 

:^) CHAPTER 10 

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh had the good sense to negotiate some 
free time into the terms of his employment agreement. Freeh at first 
declined the $133,600-a-year job, citing disruption to his family life as 
his primary concern. When his wife prevailed on him to reconsider, he 
said he』d take the job under one condition: He promised to work diligently 
for the FBI, but he also planned to reserve quality time for his 
wife and two sons. 

The White House agreed and the appointment moved forward. But it』s 
unlikely that Bill Clinton anticipated just how seriously his FBI director 
took his commitment to his family. Late one Friday, Freeh was 
notified quite suddenly that he was expected at a Saturday-morning 
White House meeting. Sorry, he replied. Unless it was a national emergency, 
his Saturday morning was already booked. He』d promised his 
sons that he』d attend their basketball game, and he intended to keep 
his word. 

Of course, you aren』t Louie Freeh. But you can learn an important lesson 
from his modus operandi: 

1. Be very clear about your needs and priorities. 
2. Be very, very good at what you do. 
3. Make sure your employer knows just how good you are. 
4. Insist that your employer meet your needs. 
Most people don』t change their lives all at once. It』s an incremental 
process that takes constant self-evaluation, careful goal-setting, and 
self-directed action. You must persist in the face of obstacles and criticism. 
Succeeding in your new life requires clear thinking to understand 
that reality isn』t always as idyllic as you might expect. But it』s 
not an impossible dream. And it can be well worth the effort. Just the 
other day, one of my more inspired life-changing clients (who took 
early retirement to pursue other career goals) startled me with an 
incredible statement: 「I feel as if I』m living in the center of a chocolate 
cake,」 she laughed. 「Everything around me is so sweet.」 


WORK/LIFE BALANCE :^) 

(continues) 
217 
Work/Life Balance: Making a Life While Making a Living 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. Do you wish that you had more time for yourself? 
2. Where do the greatest demands on your time come from? 
3. Can you enlist more support to help you meet your responsi-
bilities? From whom? 
4. How good are you at setting limits? 
5. What happens when you say 「no」? 
6. How good are you at asserting your own needs? 
7. How can you improve your negotiating skills? 

:^) CHAPTER 10 

(continued) 

8. Do you wish that you could work fewer hours? 
9. Have you ever considered working part time? 
10. How do you think your employer would feel about part-time 
hours? 

11. Do you worry that people will think you』re not serious about 
your career? 
12. Is there any precedent in your company for job-sharing? 

13. Is there anyone you』d like to share a job with? Who? 
14. Can you think of any benefits to your employer of a job-share 
arrangement? 
15. Would you like to work from home more? 
218 



WORK/LIFE BALANCE :^) 

16. 
Do you have the kind of job responsibilities that lend themselves 
to home-based work arrangements? 
17. Do you think your employer would object to your working from 
home part-time? If so, why? 
18. Can you experiment with alternative work schedules to determine 
how feasible they really are? 
19. Do you ever fantasize about a whole new lifestyle? If so, what 
does your dream life look like? 
20. Have you ever lived in a small town? If not, what do you think 
it would be like? 
21. Do you know any urban refugees who moved from the city to 
the country? If so, what has their experience been? 
(continues) 


:^) CHAPTER 10 

(continued) 

22. Can you see any negatives to rural or small-town living? 
23. Have you ever considered a sabbatical or an extended leave of 
absence? 
24. How do you think your employer would react to such a 
request? 
25. How would you spend a year off? 
26. What do you think would happen to your career if you took a 
year off? 
27. Would that scenario be so terrible? 
220 



CHAPTER 11 


Having Fun at Work 

Take risks and smile. Have some fun—it』s not against the rules. 

—Hap Klopp, The Adventure of Leadership 

So, off your duffs, couch potatoes. Pick up your camera. Tune up that instrument. 
Sharpen those woodworking tools. Get out those quilting needles. Lose 
yourself in the flow of active work and play. 

—David Myers, The Pursuit of Happiness 

M
M
any people associate fun with the frivolity 
of youth or relegate their playtime 
to their leisure activities. The 

assumption is that laughter, fun, and play are immature, unadult, and 
unprofessional when, in fact, humor and fun can help individuals cope 
with stress, crisis, and change. 

Before they wrote their book 301 Ways to Have Fun at Work (1997, 
Berrett-Koehler), David Hemsath and Leslie Yerkes were already convinced 
that fun at work was the single most important characteristic 
of an effective and successful organization. They saw direct links 
between fun-filled work and employee creativity, productivity, morale, 
satisfaction, retention, customer service, and other critical factors that 
determine business success. To prove their point, they conducted an 
international survey to collect relevant real-life stories of what people 
are doing to create fun workplaces. 

But I didn』t need to read their book to appreciate their truths. In a so-
called 「24/7」 work environment where people are often stretched to 
their emotional and physical limits, fun and the energy and enthusiasm 
it creates are critical to both success and satisfaction. 


:^) CHAPTER 11 

Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine 

Denise Driscoll would love to be a stand-up comic. Although she can』t 
afford to take the financial risk, that hasn』t stopped her from making 
laughter part of her job. Driscoll is an oncology nurse in Chicago. You 
might not think her job would offer much opportunity for humor. 
Attending to cancer patients is obviously serious business. But she 
knows that beyond being good fun, laughter is also good medicine. To 
encourage healing through fun activities, she established one of the 
first 「humor carts」 in a Chicago hospital. But that doesn』t mean you』ll 
find her romping wildly through the ward with a bag of magic tricks 
and a passel of jokes stashed in her hip pocket. When it comes to 
humor, timing is everything. Driscoll might love laughter, but she 
never uses it as a replacement for compassion and caring. Rather, it is 
a way of showing love. 

It would be easy to view this 50-year-old woman as a child who never 
grew up and, indeed, there is a youthfulness to her personality. But she 
had to teach herself and the people around her how to have more fun 
in the midst of illness and crisis. That theme is echoed in the movie 
Patch Adams (based on the real-life story of Dr. Hunter 「Patch」 
Adams), an unconventional but highly determined young doctor who 
is convinced that laughter really is the best medicine, a belief that 
often makes him look foolish and nearly gets him thrown out of medical 
school, but is very popular with many of his patients. 

If you』re like most adults, the wear-and-tear of everyday life has probably 
taken away some of your gift for laughter. As a child, you were 
likely to have laughed more than 100 times a day. Sadly, research 
shows that by age 44, most people are down to less than a dozen mild 
chuckles daily, if that. Life as a grownup can be pretty much of a 
downer. 

Denise Driscoll would like to change those numbers. 「Humor is like 
verbal aikido,」 she says 「and you can find it in everyday life.」 Denise 
is part of a burgeoning group of professionals who are dedicated to 
promoting the benefits and use of therapeutic humor. 


HAVING FUN AT WORK :^) 

Steve Wilson was already a well-established professional with a successful 
career as a college professor and psychologist when he founded 
the World Laughter Tour. Through the creation of laughter clubs, 
the World Laughter Tour promotes awareness of the benefits and techniques 
of therapeutic laughter, which they believe can promote both 
personal wellness and world peace. The WLT』s motto is 「Think 
Globally, Laugh Locally.」 The task of creating an 「epidemic of world 
laughter」 is a daunting one. But you can rest assured that Dr. Wilson 
and his WLT contingency are having a wonderful time trying. 

Although some professionals might look askance at this lighthearted 
approach, there』s plenty of good research to support their beliefs. You 
might be familiar with the story of the late Norman Cousins. While an 
editor of the Saturday Review in 1964, Cousins was treated for a crippling 
collagen illness that was excruciatingly painful and supposedly 
irreversible. Refusing to give up, Cousins had a movie projector set up 
in his hospital room so that he could watch 「Three Stooges」 movies 
and Alan Funt』s memorable television series, Candid Camera. Cousins 
discovered that 10 minutes of genuine belly laughing created an anesthetic 
effect that allowed at least two hours of pain-free sleep. 
Eventually, he managed to laugh his way out of the hospital and a very 
serious illness. 

Besides any physiological advantage, laughter can also help you to 
maintain (or regain) your perspective, increase your emotional 
resiliency, and cope better with stress. But you might have to provide 
context occasionally to make sure others don』t get the wrong idea. For 
example, the human resources director of a psychiatric hospital in the 
Midwest was upset that patients were not adhering to hospital regulations. 
When she complained bitterly to the medical director about it, 
she was astonished to hear him laugh at her concerns. Seeing her chagrin, 
he hastened to explain: 「We』re treating psychiatric patients here. 
If they didn』t have problems, you and I would be out of work.」 By 
mixing humor and common sense, the medical director was able to 
gently remind the HR director that she shouldn』t expect patients to be 
trouble-free or to behave in a totally rational manner. Knowing your 


:^) CHAPTER 11 

audience—as the medical director did—is the first step toward successful 
service delivery and your own mental health. 

Laugh in the Face of Fear 

Using humor to diffuse tension is a survival skill that was practiced 
adroitly by members of the medical team on the popular TV series 
M*A*S*H. Actor Alan Alda』s Hawkeye Pierce is especially memorable 
for his ability to crack terrific one-liners under pressure. Of 
course, he also had the benefit of great writers. 

This was not true for the real-life Capt. Alfred Haynes, a 33-year veteran 
with United Airlines. One hour into a flight from Denver to 
Chicago one July afternoon in 1989, his plane』s rear engine exploded, 
requiring an emergency landing in Sioux City, Iowa. Haynes was trying 
to maneuver his DC-6 with 296 passengers aboard safely onto the 
ground using only the engine thrust. As he did so, he was in contact 
with an air-traffic controller who advised him that he was cleared 
to land on any runway. At that point, Haynes was just hoping he 
wouldn』t end up in a cornfield. So he laughed and said: 「You want to 
be particular and make it a runway?」 

When you』re able to call forth humor under such dire circumstances, 
it provides an important emotional outlet, allowing you to retain your 
sanity. As Abe Lincoln once said (paraphrasing Byron), 「I laugh 
because I must not cry.」 

Finding Everyday Fun 

The ability to maintain that kind of heroic grace under pressure is 
often admired yet seldom practiced. Even in far less threatening situations, 
many people have trouble lightening up and finding a bit of 
humor in the moment. Especially at work, people often prefer to keep 
a tight rein over all emotions. 

When Lou Ella Jackson first became a trainer, she was aware of 
research indicating that people learn better when they』re having fun. 


HAVING FUN AT WORK :^) 

Taking the information to heart, she realized that she』d have to lighten 
up her presentations to make them more effective. She admits it 
wasn』t easy. 「I came out of the financial industry, which has a reputation 
for being very staid,」 says Jackson, the former president of the 
Chicago chapter of the American Society for Training and 
Development. 「I was very comfortable with my serious professional 
persona, when suddenly I was confronted with the idea that I needed 
to make my seminars more fun.」 

The first time around, Jackson really had to psych herself up to be 
playful with seminar participants. 「I told myself that it didn』t matter 
if I looked stupid because I』d never see those people again, anyway,」 
she says. The ploy worked. The workshop was so successful (and so 
much fun for everyone) that she never returned to her more formal 
style. Even in her career-transition workshops, where many of her students 
are reeling from the trauma of job loss, she finds that making 
room for laughter and play eases their pain and anxiety. Picture her 
tossing a soft baseball around the class to 「get the ball rolling,」 or tattooing 
gold stars to participants』 notebooks in exchange for a good 
answer to a tough interview question. By the end, many participants 
have enjoyed experimenting with job hunting in the workshop so 
much that they can』t wait to actually do it, says Jackson. 

A Chicago psychologist goes one step further. When she and a cotrainer 
rolled out a new career-development program for human 
resources professionals, the zany pair actively looked for ways to 
introduce fun into their sessions. Otherwise, they knew the 12-hour 
study days would be too intense. One time, she brought a jack-o』lantern 
to class as a Halloween treat. It was filled with candy bars, 
which she gave out as rewards for correct answers. More than a satisfying 
snack, the candy added an element of friendly competition that 
made the learning fun. Then there were the squirt guns that participants 
were allowed to use on anyone in the group who babbled too 
long. 「So maybe the competition wasn』t always friendly,」 the psychologist 
laughs. 「But it was always lively. There was an energy in the 
room that helped us get through some pretty dense material.」 


:^) CHAPTER 11 

A former high school English teacher for the Chicago Dramatists 
Workshop, Gerissa French never forgets to bring a playful spirit to her 
work with students. Knowing how silly they can be, she』s less inclined 
toward games and tricks. For her, fun means stimulating discussions 
on a subject she feels passionately about: literature. French works 
hard to bring out the same excitement in her students. She sees herself 
as something of an orchestra leader; her goal is to bring forth the very 
best performance from each of her student-performers. To do that, she 
knows she must inspire them to become absorbed in the class. 

「I』m an excitement junkie,」 says French. 「I crave the stimulation of 
discussion—the way students get involved with the work. The last 
thing I want to do is stand up there and pontificate. To me, that』s boring.」 
French doesn』t tolerate classroom slackers. 「If you can』t get 
excited about the topic of a paper, write about something else,」 she 
tells her students. 「I don』t care if you choose great works or not. Just 
choose works you really love.」 

When students aren』t excited about a topic, it shows and their papers 
are mediocre, she says. But when they』re enthralled by a subject, the 
results can be magical. She remembers one such moment when a lackadaisical 
11th grader』s writing really came to life. The assignment was 
to write about a woman artist whose life or work you really admire. 
To her surprise, this student chose an obscure 13th-century European 
composer whose monochromatic style approximated a Gregorian 
chant. It was hardly the kind of role model you』d expect from an adolescent 
boy. But clearly, the work itself had captured his imagination 
and called out to him. Because he was so excited about it, he was able 
to express himself more clearly and effectively than he ever had 
before. It was an empowering moment for him, a poignant teaching 
experience for French, and a vivid example of why it』s so important to 
find ways to add enthusiasm, energy, and plain old fun to your job. 

Gerissa French knows two great ways to accomplish that. First, try 
to enjoy the people you work with; and second, involve yourself 
in projects that truly interest you. Both these strategies will add 


HAVING FUN AT WORK :^) 

entertainment value to your day. However, you don』t have to be an 
entertainer to increase your fun quotient. You just need a friendly attitude, 
a playful spirit, energy and enthusiasm, and a sense of humor. 

From Play to Success 

When Taco Bell president John Martin decided to shift his company』s 
focus from operations to customer service, he encouraged his employees 
to come out from behind their work areas and interact more with 
the customers. 「We wanted to make it more fun for everybody,」 he 
says. The strategy improved both the quality of workers』 lives and his 
company』s bottom line, as evidenced by Taco Bell』s 38-percent 
increase in profits that year. Basketball coach Pat Riley learned a similar 
lesson about the relationship between fun and success. When Riley 
loosened up practices and the team started having fun again, they also 
started winning ballgames. 

The urge to enjoy yourself is innate. When you make the effort to 
enjoy yourself at work, you』re doing what comes easily and naturally. 
You』re also increasing your chances of success. 

As a customer, you can tell when the people who serve you are enjoying 
themselves. Usually, it makes you want to do business with them 
again. At Southwest Airlines, keeping customers entertained is such an 
important part of flight attendants』 duties that a sense of humor is 
now part of the job description. To test that trait, candidates are asked 
to describe their most embarrassing moment and how they got out of 
it with humor. Flying Southwest from Houston to Chicago, I experienced 
that lighthearted touch firsthand. A flight attendant burst into 
an impromptu rendition of 「Sweet Home, Chicago」 as the plane 
touched down on the runway at Midway Airport. Her performance 
was followed by a startled moment of silence; then the passengers 
burst into a spontaneous round of applause. As we left the plane, 
everyone seemed to be more relaxed and happy for the experience. 

Then there』s Scott Alyn, the purpose-driven CEO of Something Extra, 
a Fort Collins, Colorado, greeting-card company. His stated business 


:^) CHAPTER 11 

objective is 「to bring lightheartedness into the world through my 
products.」 Every aspect of his firm reflects that goal. Even the credit 
and collection department exudes a playful spirit. For example, 
instead of the usual stern invoice, customers with past-due accounts 
are sent a package of spaghetti noodles in a cello bag with a card 
attached that reads, 「Pasta Due」 or 「Please pay-a-uppa or we breaka 
your noodle.」 The mailing label on his company』s shipping packages 
has a picture of a gopher in tennis shoes with a package under his arm 
and a caption that reads 「Gopher Express.」 Not surprisingly, the 
company has exceptional customer relationships. 

When you delight your customers like that, you improve word-ofmouth 
and, in turn, your business』s sales. You also improve your own 
state of mind and make your co-workers and bosses happy, too. 

Adding Humor to Your Life 
1. Surround yourself with people who have a sense of humor. 
a. Make friends with the funniest people at work and at play. 
b. Stay connected with friends who make you laugh. 
c. Encourage others to laugh and be funny. 
2. Entertain yourself with humor. 
a. Read funny books. 
b. Collect cartoons. 
c. Collect tapes/videos/books that make you laugh. 
d. Go to comedy clubs. 
e. Watch funny movies. 

HAVING FUN AT WORK :^) 

3. Lighten up at work. 
a. Collect jokes and funny stories to tell your co-workers. 
b. Post new cartoons and humorous anecdotes in the break-
room. 
c. Plan social events that are fun for everyone. 
d. Learn to laugh with others and at yourself. 
4. Make laughter a habit. 
a. Consciously look for the humor in every situation. 
b. Never miss an opportunity to make another person smile. 
c. Set smile goals for each and every day. 
d. Don』t worry. Be happy. 
Peter Lind, who heads up the research and development team for Ben 
& Jerry』s in Waterbury, Vermont, also brings a playful spirit to his 
work. During factory tours, his laboratory is in full view. Rather than 
pretend he』s working diligently every minute, Lind acknowledges 
tourists』 presence by holding up a sign that says, 「We』re professionals. 
Don』t try this at home.」 What else would you expect from a former 
chef and actor who responded to a help-wanted ad that listed 「playing 
with your food」 as a prerequisite for the job? 

Bob Basso, the president of Light Management Associates, a motivational 
speaker in Hawaii, and coauthor with Judi Klosek of This Job 
Should Be Fun! (2000, iUniverse.com), believes that productive play is 
the key to success. This is especially true now, he says, when so many 
of us are expected to work harder, longer hours for the same money. 
Rather than let your performance slip because you』re discouraged 
about diminishing incentives, you can enjoy your work and make it its 
own reward. 


:^) CHAPTER 11 

Herman Cain, the CEO of the Godfather』s Pizza chain, describes fun 
as the key to self-motivation. 「Fun helps remove the barriers and 
allows people to motivate themselves,」 he says. 

Career consultants, however, often have trouble convincing the dissatisfied 
professionals they counsel to lighten up. Says Lawternatives』 
President Cheryl Heisler, 「A lot of people can』t get past the idea that 
you can have a 『real job』 and still have fun working,」 says Heisler. 
「Unless they』re bored out of their skulls, they think it isn』t real work.」 

Howard Campbell agrees. As an independent outplacement consultant 
in Oak Park, Illinois, Campbell fights an uphill battle to convince 
clients that their first objective should be 「finding somebody to pay 
you to do what you』re good at and enjoy.」 Their second objective, 
says Campbell, is to 「find an environment where you feel comfortable 
to be yourself.」 His views are usually greeted with skepticism. 「Yeah. 
Right. I should be so lucky,」 they tell him. But luck has little to do 
with it. Self-knowledge, a positive attitude, and determination are the 
core requirements, not luck. 

Campbell knows of what he speaks. For 20 years, he worked at traditional 
corporate jobs for which he was ill-suited, including 11 years 
as a human resources manager with Packer International, a high-tech 
medical firm in Bellwood, Illinois. Yet he describes himself as 「the 
world』s worst administrator.」 Because he wasn』t much interested in 
the paperwork end of his job, doing it competently required a lot of 
energy. 

「If you don』t enjoy your work, how can you expect to be good at it?」 
asks Campbell. Heisler agrees. Like Campbell, she spends a fair 
amount of time convincing clients that it』s OK to get paid for having 
fun. In her experience, people usually succeed much faster when they 
enjoy their work because it comes more naturally to them. The key, 
says Heisler, is to know what makes work fun for you. In other words, 
define the terms of your enjoyment. 「Fun is unique to the individual,」 
she says 「Finding your niche is critical.」 


HAVING FUN AT WORK :^) 

For her, nothing is more pleasing than when she receives an unexpected 
call from a television or radio producer to book her on a show, or 
when a reporter asks for advice for an article. Whereas others eschew 
the limelight, she embraces it. Vocationally, it』s an emotional high that 
gets her adrenaline pumping. 

What Delights You? 

Every profession has its playthings. By choosing subject matter that 
delights you, your day will automatically go more easily. Physicists 
play with mathematical formulas. Architects love form and space. 
Writers love to play with words and ideas. 

Like Peter Lind, Karen Messina-Hirsch loves to play with food. As the 
president and founder of Food Performance in Wheaton, Illinois, 
Messina-Hirsch makes food the center of her professional life. It』s a 
focus that had its roots in early childhood. Growing up in a small 
Italian community in New Jersey, she has fond memories of working 
side by side with her mom in the kitchen. Apparently, she also had 
early signs of talent. As an eighth grader, she won a local contest for 
her innovative German chocolate cake. By high school, she already 
knew she wanted to work in a test kitchen. 

College brought food-service, dietetics, and business-administration 
degrees along with early kudos for her culinary skills. She managed a 
bakery at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and then moved on 
to the test kitchens at General Mills in Minneapolis, never once doubting 
that food was the career for her. She』s since gone out on her own 
as an independent consultant. In her mid-forties, she returned to 
school to pursue a culinary arts degree at Kendall College in Evanston, 
Illinois. Because she』s already 25 years into a successful food career, 
others questioned her need for that education so late in the game. Yet 
she has an endless curiosity for her subject matter and a tireless energy 
for learning the skills. 

Although no job is perfect, Messina-Hirsch often labors with joy. Her 
career has seen many variations, but food is always at the center of the 


:^) CHAPTER 11 

enterprise. Still on her horizon: She might write a cookbook or host a 
cooking show. She admits to admiring Martin Yan of the popular TV 
program Yan Can Cook for his incredible cutting methods. 「He』s like 
a virtuoso pianist,」 she says. 「He probably spends hours just practicing 
his knife techniques.」 

Although her family and friends sometimes think she』s a little too dedicated, 
her time spent drumming up and testing new recipes is not 
only work, it』s also play. You can call it a busman』s holiday, but 
she』s thrilled to spend her days off in the kitchen puttering with new 
dishes. To her, it』s all grist for the mill—experience she can apply later 
in her work with corporate clients. This is a woman who knows that 
work can and should be a celebration of talents, not an exercise in 
tedium. 

Surrounding yourself with activities you love increases your potential 
for satisfaction. But it isn』t always easy to find ways to integrate 
your interests and skills into your everyday work life. It takes energy, 
effort, and a willingness to take chances. Heisler cites the example of 
a general-practice attorney. The lawyer』s first passion is for horses, but 
she wasn』t sure whether and how to convert her passion into a livelihood. 
So she started slowly, working as a part-time riding instructor 
on weekends to see whether she was on the right track. She was. 
Today, her life as an attorney is far more tolerable because she knows 
it』s almost over. Day by day, she』s working toward the time when she』ll 
be able to buy a horse farm in northern Wisconsin. Sound like fun? 

Admittedly, hobbies make high-risk career choices. At the same time, 
they practically guarantee you enjoyment. The real question is, how 
much do you want to risk on the possibility of happiness? Although 
you might envy people like Messina-Hirsch and the future horse-farm 
owner, their spark is the result of finding and following a personal 
dream. Messina-Hirsch thinks fun—as a by-product of work— 
becomes more important as you age. At 54, she』s aware that time is 
precious and wants to make sure she enjoys every minute she can. 
That』s why she』s always looking for new ways to expand her knowledge, 
develop her skills, and enjoy herself. 


HAVING FUN AT WORK :^) 

New York career counselor Judy Rosemarin has come to a similar 
conclusion. At 25, Rosemarin was determined to make people take 
her seriously. When she was 35, she was still intent on pursuing that 
goal. By the time she was 45, though, she recognized that she was trying 
too hard and decided to lighten up. 「Once I realized that I was 
taking myself too seriously, I relaxed and let go,」 says Rosemarin. 
「And guess what? That』s when people started to take me seriously.」 

Perhaps you need to stop working so hard to gain respectability and 
take your own happiness more seriously. Or, as some would say: 
Lighten up and live a little. 

Take on a New Adventure 

If you』re on the lookout for new adventures in living, there are role 
models trailblazing new paths all around you. Ann Krcik was a rock 
climber who dreamed about quitting her marketing-operations job to 
work with fellow adventurers in the great outdoors. She made the leap 
by launching a Salt Lake City, Utah, firm that represents 「extreme」 
athletes, signing them up to appear in commercials, and as models and 
motivational speakers. 「I wanted more freedom to climb than my 
two-weeks-a-year vacation,」 says Ms. Krcik, whose work now takes 
her to mountain ranges throughout the Western states. 「It was a fantasy 
I made come true.」 

Perhaps you remember the Reebok commercial where two real-life 
brothers put their sneakers to the bungee-jumping test (only to discover 
that the Reebok-less brother failed the jump)? Those two infamous 
bungee-jumping brothers once were average Americans with 
traditional corporate jobs. Peter Kockleman was an engineer (whose 
boyhood hero was Evel Knievel). His younger sibling, John, was a 
computer consultant. In 1987, they saw their first bungee jump on the 
TV show That』s Incredible. They decided to try it themselves by jumping 
off a 140-foot bridge at Don Pedro Reservoir near Yosemite. The 
thrill got them hooked. Soon, John quit his job and convinced Peter to 
do likewise. 「Come on, screw security,」 John said. 「Screw stability 


:^) CHAPTER 11 

and upward mobility. That』s not what you』re on earth for—to sit there 
and be calm, to sit there and die slowly.」 

The Kocklemans went on to become the kings of bungee jumping by 
founding Bungee Adventures, a California firm that arranges others』 
leaps of faith. Since they began their company in 1988, they have 
rigged over 50,000 bungee jumps in the U.S. and set two world 
records for the longest bungee jump. They have jumped from cranes, 
bridges, balloons, parachutes, helicopters, and hotel lobbies. They 
have manufactured equipment, appeared in commercials, and performed 
stunts in television commercials and movies. Talk about giving 
up security for a life of adventure! 

Improve Your Social Life 

Most fun work has a number of 「wow」 factors. Besides the intrinsic 
interest and excitement, it can also create more dynamic personal relationships. 
Denise Driscoll』s friends look forward to telling her new 
jokes. The future horse farmer makes new acquaintances at the stable 
and takes old buddies riding with her. Karen Messina-Hirsch entertains 
friends with her culinary skills, and they join her in the kitchen 
for impromptu lessons. One Thanksgiving Day, she suddenly hauled 
her carving knives out of the car and, on request, carved the hostess』s 
veal breast, to the oohs and ahs of an admiring audience. Heisler』s 
new friends are media personalities. But her long-standing pals love to 
turn on the radio or TV set and find her friendly face smiling out at 
them. 

Contrast those experiences with that of the vice president of a small 
cosmetics manufacturing firm in Chicago who finds his work tedious. 
He』s so glad to shut the door on it each night that he never wants to 
discuss it after hours. This part of his life is increasingly closed off 
from other people. At parties and family gatherings, he assiduously 
avoids the topic of his business. When someone brings it up, he 
changes the subject. In the process, he makes himself more unhappy. 
He constantly hungers for more creativity, intellectual stimulation, 
and people contact. 


HAVING FUN AT WORK :^) 

He feels trapped and unhappy. Because he works in a family business, 
he doesn』t feel he has the luxury of changing jobs or careers. So he 
tries to build more stimulation into his daily life with extracurricular 
activities. As a jazz composer, he』s partly successful. But that doesn』t 
entirely compensate for the 9-to-5 doldrums. To overcome them, he 
drew one of his zanier relatives into the family business to help with 
some sales and marketing responsibilities. By sharing the duties with 
a livelier, more outgoing person, the vice president found a way to 
enliven his own day and feel less lonely at his job. Although it』s an 
imperfect solution (he still doesn』t like his work activities), it has alleviated 
a piece of the problem. 

When your job has humdrum responsibilities and you feel you can』t 
leave, you can still lighten the load by working more joyously with the 
people who share that burden. For example, when Lou Ella Jackson 
first worked as a bookkeeper for a financial institution, her entire 
department worked together to alleviate the boredom. In addition to 
holding weekly breakfasts, they』d create contests to see who could 
「balance the most often」 or 「make the least errors.」 The sociable 
competition stimulated more productive and efficient work. It also 
enabled them to feel more involved and connected to each other. 

Even if your organization frowns on employees having fun with customers, 
you can still try to have fun with your co-workers. You might 
not think that being a documentation specialist would be a real hoot. 
Yet one such expert enjoyed herself immensely while working with a 
marketing team to introduce a new product worldwide. She admits 
that her package-labeling responsibilities weren』t particularly sexy, but 
the opportunity to work with so many diverse and dynamic professionals 
was 「a real kick.」 To this day, she remembers that project as 
great fun. And although she』s since moved onward and upward, she 
misses working with people who really knew how to have a good time 
together. What she doesn』t realize is that she can exert more influence 
on her surroundings. She can initiate more fun-filled projects and 
activities herself instead of waiting to react to others. 


:^) CHAPTER 11 

How to Nurture a Sense of Humor 
■ Start your day with a new assumption: 「This day will be fun.」 
■ Amuse yourself while you』re getting dressed or making break-
fast. Wear something colorful or throw together an unusual 
treat. 
■ Kibbutz with the doorman, bus driver, cab driver, or train con-
ductor. But keep your chatter to three minutes, tops. 
■ When reading the paper, go to the comics section before tack-
ling the news. 
■ Share a funny story with the person sitting next to you on the 
bus or standing behind you in line for coffee. 
■ Play a comedy tape on your Walkman. 
■ Make fun of people at the health club for being flabby and out of 
shape. Then, fall off the treadmill yourself. 
■ Laugh about your commuting misadventures with the recep-
tionist when you walk into work. 
■ Pretend to throw your telephone messages in the garbage. 
■ While planning your workday, look up and smile at the cute pho-
tographs of family and friends you have around your office. 
■ Buy a Joke-a-Day calendar and share the knee-slappers with co-
workers. 
■ When calling people, ask to hear some good news. 
■ Look for opportunities to laugh in meetings with your cus-
tomers, clients, co-workers, and boss. 
■ Bring yummy food to work. 
■ Speaking of food, go someplace new for lunch. 

HAVING FUN AT WORK :^) 

■ 

During boring meetings, look at the participants and think about 
which actors would play them if this were a television sitcom. 
Who would win the role of your boss, your secretary, and, most 
importantly, you? 

■ 

Use humor in memos and letters to trusted customers and 
friends. 

■ 

At dinner, review the day』s events in an amusing way to your 
dinner companions. 

■ 

Use your imagination whenever possible. 

「The highest form of humor is laughing at yourself,」 says Denise 
Driscoll. 「The greatest thing about it is that you never, ever run out of 
material.」 


:^) CHAPTER 11 

Having Fun at Work 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. When was the last time you really had fun at work? 
2. What were you doing? 
3. What made the experience fun? The activity? Or the people? 
4. If it was the activity, was it an extracurricular event or part of 
your normal workday? 
5. Do you generally enjoy your job activities? 
6. Is there anything you can do to make your job duties more 
interesting? 

HAVING FUN AT WORK :^) 

7. 
Are you a creative person who enjoys building or making 
things? If so, is there a way for you to be more creative at 
work? 
8. Does your job challenge you to grow and learn new things? 
9. Are there any projects you can initiate that you』d find particularly 
interesting and challenging? 
10. Who do you most enjoy working with? Be specific. 
11. Why do you find them enjoyable? 
12. What do your preferences say about you? 
(continues) 


:^) CHAPTER 11 

(continued) 

13. 
Would you describe your co-workers as 「fun to work with」? 
What about your customers? 
14. Describe your organizational culture. 
15. Do you feel that you belong there? Why or why not? 
16. 
Do you have any personal resistance to having more fun at 
work? Are you afraid, for example, that a more lighthearted 
approach will make you look unprofessional? 
17. 
Do you believe that having fun with your customers can 
increase their satisfaction with your company』s products and/or 
services? Why or why not? 
240 



HAVING FUN AT WORK :^) 

18. Do you believe that having fun with your employees can 
improve team spirit and productivity? Why or why not? 
19. Do you view yourself as a fun-loving person? 
20. Do you derive more enjoyment from playing with things than 
with people? 
21. Can you think of small ways to introduce more enjoyment into 
your workday? 

22. How do you feel about friendly competition? 
23. Do you find that you don』t have time to have fun? 
24. How much time does fun take? 


CHAPTER 12 


We, Inc.: Working with Others 
or Starting Your Own Business 


Our success will be measured by the answers to four questions: First, were we 
truly men of courage? Second, were we truly men of judgment? Third, were 
we truly men of integrity? Finally, were we truly men of dedication? 

—John F. Kennedy 

N
N
obody works entirely alone. Sooner or 
later you must interact with customers, 
colleagues, co-workers, bosses, and/or 

customers. That is why the ability to communicate and get along with 
other people can make or break a career. Sure, there are people who 
seem to be successful despite the fact that they are jerks; but you 
can』t count on being one of them. To ensure your own success—and 
satisfaction—you need to develop successful people-management 
skills. 

Managing Your Boss 

One of the most important career skills is learning to manage upward. 
Much as I hate to admit it, it』s true that flattery can get you somewhere 
with your boss (but only if you really mean it). Randall A. Gordon, a 
University of Michigan psychologist who reviewed 69 studies on the 
topic, concluded, 「ingratiation shrewdly employed will get you ahead. 
If you have two people who are both competent at what they do, but 
one is really good at schmoozing…the one likely to get the raise is the 
schmoozer. It gives you the edge.」 


:^) CHAPTER 12 

For those of you who aren』t good schmoozers, there』s no reason to get 
discouraged. Instead, you need to develop a solid, mature work ethic 
and relationship with the people you report to. 

Boss-Management Guidelines 

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind: 

■ 
Manage expectations and priorities. When you receive a new 
assignment, make sure you know what is expected of you. 
■ 
Solicit feedback. Don』t be afraid to ask for feedback about your 
work. It』s better to know the truth, even if the truth (as your boss 
sees it) isn』t completely flattering. 
■ 
Keep the lines of communication open. Share information with 
your boss and look for ways to make him/her look good. 
■ 
Don』t gossip. Regardless of how you feel about your manager, 
don』t share your negative feelings with others in the company. 
The things you say in private have a way of making themselves 
known to the wrong people. 
■ 
Be a team player. Although it』s important to protect your own 
needs and rights, there are also times when you will need to put 
your department or company』s needs in front of your own. 
Knowing when to take a stand is part of the art and skill of being 
a good team player. 
■ 
Manage conflict and disagreement. When you』re feeling unfairly 
criticized, discuss your concerns rationally with your boss in a 
nonconfrontational way. 
■ 
Build trust. A key element in managing your boss is building trust 
in the relationship by being trustworthy. Make every effort to 
maintain honesty and dependability by honoring commitments 
and deadlines. Your positive example will impact not only your 
boss, but also others around you. 

WE, INC. :^) 

■ 
Sell your issue. To get what you want in your organization, you 
have to ask for it, and you have to sell your boss on the issue. 
This isn』t manipulation, but a legitimate set of techniques to 
make it easier for your boss to understand and accept your ideas. 
Don』t expect your boss to understand your issue automatically. 
Learn how to present it, and, where appropriate, involve other 
individuals in the selling effort. With some bosses, you』ll be more 
successful selling your issue in private versus trying to convince 
them in a public setting. And of course, pay attention to your timing, 
making sure you present the issue when other more pressing 
issues are not consuming your boss』s attention. 
■ 
Focus on what you can change. Although you might not be able 
to control your boss, you can control your attitude. A shift in 
attitude, or the way you see things, can change your level of job 
satisfaction. 
■ 
Give positive reinforcement. Everyone in an organization needs 
support. You don』t have to be a schmoozer to praise and appreciate 
another person』s accomplishments. Some experts even suggest 
that the most important objective for employees is to appear 
supportive of their bosses. Empathize with your boss and express 
appreciation when it can honestly be conveyed. This will help 
your boss do his or her job better. And making your boss a better 
boss has obvious ramifications for you as well. 
Now that I』ve given you all these great guidelines for managing your 
boss, I』m willing to admit that some bosses are simply impossible to 
work for. They are mercurial, dominating, overbearing, and irascible. 
Nothing is more anxiety-provoking than knowing that your job security 
and career advancement depend on your relationship with someone 
like that. Should that happen to you, the key is to expand your 
power base both within and outside the organization by building relationships 
with other people. This can help you make a lateral move 
within the organization or find a new job in a different company. 


:^) CHAPTER 12 

Building Strategic Alliances 

So, how do you build strategic alliances within your own company 
without antagonizing your boss? Bob, a test engineer, solved this 
career dilemma by offering to represent his division in an interdepartmental 
forum. This looked like a win-win scenario. His overworked 
boss was happy to let Bob shoulder this particular responsibility. And 
Bob was able to develop greater exposure and credibility in the organization. 
After giving a presentation at one meeting, Bob was 
approached by another manager and offered a job in another division, 
which he graciously accepted. Although his boss was sorry to lose his 
employee, his boss never knew how much Bob disliked him. As a 
result of this strategy, Bob was able to salvage his career with the company 
without burning any bridges with his former boss—another 
form of a win-win situation. 

Would a Lateral Move Help Your Career? 

Making a lateral move from one position to another within the same 
company (that is similar in pay and status) is often an effective way to 
stimulate career growth. According to Beverly Kaye, a Pennsylvania-
based career expert and author of Up Is Not the Only Way (2002, 
Davies-Black), moving across divisions in your company can mean 
adding contacts. It also can help you gain perspectives you might 
never have gained by simply moving up. In many cases, lateral moves 
solve relocation dilemmas for employees who do not want to move to 
new locations. 

When you choose to make a lateral move, however, you must also be 
aware of the perception that this creates. You don』t want to send the 
message that you are not a team player or that you are not ambitious. 
On the other hand, it makes perfect sense to tell a new manager that 
you are interested in expanding your knowledge and skills. This 
demonstrates that you are a motivated and enthusiastic learner. But 
it』s still up to them whether they have the time and patience to train 
you to work for and with them. 


WE, INC. :^) 

Before making a leap to a new department where you will be performing 
different responsibilities, you need to make sure that your 
new boss understands that there will be a learning curve for you 
before you will be able to contribute fully. Don』t be afraid to clarify 
expectations before making the leap into a new arena. 

Escaping a bad boss is not the only (or even the best) reason to make 
a lateral move. When organizations grow slowly or are cutting back, 
lateral movements are an important career option. A sideways move 
can provide you with an opportunity to expand your base of skills and 
knowledge in a particular area, or across different functional areas of 
the organization. If you have a good relationship with your boss, you 
should be able ask for his or her advice and help in making a job 
change within the company. Perhaps your boss can refer you to some 
other area of the company. Changing departments can give you the 
breadth of experience that will be critical for success later. Lateral 
moves increase your portfolio of marketable skills and widen your 
network of personal contacts. If you want to learn new skills, seek the 
stimulation of new colleagues, relocate to a different location, or 
transfer into a faster-growing area of your organization, you could 
benefit from repositioning yourself by seeking a lateral move. 

Finding a Mentor 

Having a mentor can be critical to the growth and success of your 
career. But it can very hard to find the right person to mentor you. So, 
what can you do to find someone to nurture your talents and career? 

The first key is to 「know yourself.」 The more you know about your 
own talents, personality, strengths, and weaknesses, the better able 
you will be to define what kind of mentor you need to help guide your 
career. 

In some cases, mentoring relationships develop naturally out of 
school, workplace, or personal relationships. For my friend Adam, a 
fortuitous relationship with his teacher, Kim, became the foundation 
of a lifelong mentoring relationship with Kim and her husband, Joe. 


:^) CHAPTER 12 

But this wasn』t a relationship that Adam sought out. It was one that 
literally fell into his lap. Because most of us can』t count on that kind 
of luck to guide our progress through the workplace, we have to be 
more proactive about seeking out mentors. 

Blaze Konkol is a good example of someone who does this quite naturally. 
When Blaze decided to change careers from management consulting 
to counseling psychology, he was particularly interested in 
combining business and psychology. After hearing me speak at a graduate 
seminar, he took the initiative to contact me, at first for career 
advice, and later about the possibility of working together. Because 
Blaze views me as someone who has knowledge and contacts in the 
field he wishes to enter after graduation, he has very proactively 
solicited my advice and been open about his desire for me to mentor 
him. I, in turn, have learned a great deal from him and appreciate the 
assertive way in which he manages his own career and seeks out the 
connections that make the most sense to him instead of allowing himself 
to become alienated. 

Blaze found me himself. But if you don』t know anyone personally 
whom you might want to mentor you, you can ask for referrals from 
friends and colleagues in order to tap into other peoples』 networks. 
The clearer you can be about who (or what) you are looking for, the 
easier it will be to get connected to the right people. 

Keep an open mind about who your mentor or mentors might be. 
Because a mentor is someone who can help you grow in an area that 
is important to you, you might be looking for more than one person. 
Perhaps you need one mentor to help you with your writing and 
another person to help strategize your career moves. Or you might be 
looking for a role model. 

Mentoring can be a two-way street rather than just a top-down experience 
from manager to staff or employer to employee. Senior staff 
who feel hopelessly out of date can benefit from the savvy and expertise 
that younger co-workers can bring to the table. One marketing 
communications executive developed a reverse-mentoring program 


WE, INC. :^) 

where the younger employees who have grown up on computers 
match up with older workers who aren』t as techno-savvy. Joining 
youthful know-how with senior influence can foster strong collaborations 
along with skill development. 

Reverse mentoring went mainstream when former GE CEO Jack 
Welch insisted that several hundred of his top managers hook up with 
younger employees in order to learn about the Internet. Since that 
time, reverse mentoring has become a popular managerial strategy to 
manage intergenerational differences, understand younger consumers, 
and generate new ideas. 

The hardest part of reverse mentoring is getting the teacher to be 
patient and articulate enough to teach the mentee. Younger mentors 
can also encounter some resistance from their senior-level mentees, 
who might be concerned about looking incompetent or getting too 
chummy with the staff. One solution to that dilemma is to use outside 
mentors from local colleges, universities, youth groups, and so on who 
are not part of the org chart. 

Mentoring Exercise 
Make a list of five people whom you admire. They can be famous 
people or people who stand out in some way for you by way of their 
character traits, qualities, talents, accomplishments, personality, and 
so on. 
1. ___________________________________________________________ 
2. ___________________________________________________________ 
3. ___________________________________________________________ 
4. ___________________________________________________________ 
5. ___________________________________________________________ 
(continues) 



:^) CHAPTER 12 

(continued) 

Identify five reasons why you admire each of them; be as specific as 
you can. 

Person 1: __________________ 

1. ___________________________________________________________ 
2. ___________________________________________________________ 
3. ___________________________________________________________ 
4. ___________________________________________________________ 
5. ___________________________________________________________ 
Person 2: __________________ 

1. ___________________________________________________________ 
2. ___________________________________________________________ 
3. ___________________________________________________________ 
4. ___________________________________________________________ 
5. ___________________________________________________________ 
Person 3: __________________ 

1. ___________________________________________________________ 
2. ___________________________________________________________ 
3. ___________________________________________________________ 
4. ___________________________________________________________ 
5. ___________________________________________________________ 
250 



WE, INC. :^) 

Person 4: __________________ 

1. ___________________________________________________________ 
2. ___________________________________________________________ 
3. ___________________________________________________________ 
4. ___________________________________________________________ 
5. ___________________________________________________________ 
Person 5: __________________ 

1. ___________________________________________________________ 
2. ___________________________________________________________ 
3. ___________________________________________________________ 
4. ___________________________________________________________ 
5. ___________________________________________________________ 
Claim those for yourself; these are aspects of yourself that you want 
to cultivate and actualize in yourself. Keep them in mind as you figure 
out ways to live them more fully. 

Then, research avenues to develop and use them, such as jobs and 
activities that would give you an opportunity to express the qualities 
you identified. 

Starting Your Own Business 

Some people are simply more comfortable being their own bosses. 
They prefer the road less traveled. Appealing as this might sound, it 
isn』t necessarily the easiest route to follow. When you factor in the 
financial realities—no more steady paycheck or paid vacations, the 


:^) CHAPTER 12 

expense of health insurance, and the loss of your 401(k)—it comes 
down to this: You』d better really want it. 

Having your own business is often a dream of escape. But regardless 
of whether you』re a disgruntled corporate refugee, a college dropout, 
or a B-school graduate, you』d better have a destination before you 
sign up for the 「pioneer track.」 After all, to be your own boss is to 
determine your own fate. 

To paraphrase Eileen Ford, who built one of the most successful modeling 
agencies in the world: When you own your own business, success 
and satisfaction don』t come from the tooth fairy or a magical 
white knight. You have to work like crazy to succeed. To stay motivated 
under those conditions, it helps if you』ve followed your heart, 
says Richie Melman, founder of Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You, 
which owns and runs more than 30 successful restaurants. If you don』t 
do what you love and know best, he says, you won』t be able to compete 
with people who do love their businesses. 

But what if your heart is parched with fear, anger, and self-doubt, perhaps 
because of a recent job loss? Many a corporate empire has been 
built on the back of an individual』s anger and frustration. Dr. Edward 
Land』s frustration with Kodak』s unwillingness to back his dream of 
manufacturing an instant camera turned into the foundation for a 
photographic empire called Polaroid. For Playboy founder Hugh 
Hefner, the decision to 「go solo」 was a direct response to a rebuff. 
While working at Esquire, Hefner asked his boss for a $5 raise and 
got turned down. He quit to make his fortune where his contribution 
would be more appreciated. 

Although anger can fuel healthy competitive instincts, it can also be 
self-destructive. However temporarily liberating they might be, rage 
and revenge motives aren』t a good foundation for long-term career 
satisfaction. You need a deeper commitment to sustain you for long-
term success. 

Lloyd Shefsky, a Chicago attorney and author of Entrepreneurs 
Are Made, Not Born (1994, McGraw-Hill), thinks that many 


WE, INC. :^) 

entrepreneurs make the mistake of viewing their businesses like newborn 
children. He says the more appropriate metaphor is that of a 
marriage or a partnership, not a parent-child relationship. 

From Cavorter to Tycoon 

We can all take a lesson from Neil Balter, who successfully channeled 
his adolescent rage (and energies) into a small corporate empire. Balter 
caught the entrepreneurial bug when he was a teenager, almost by 
default. 

Balter』s parents kicked him out of the house at age 17 for having a bad 
attitude. In teenage terms, that means he was out 「cavorting」 until all 
hours of the night, sleeping late, skipping school, and barely passing 
his classes. This hardly sounds like the background of an ambitious 
executive who』d become a millionaire before he was 30 years old. But 
that』s exactly what happened. 

Forced out on his own, Balter had to find a way to make a living. An 
excellent carpenter, he put his talents to use converting his neighbors』 
messy closets into custom-built bastions of organization. Working 
from the back of his van, he ended up grossing $60,000 in his first 
year of business. Twelve years later, he sold his highly successful 
California Closet Co. to Williams-Sonoma Inc. for $12 million. 

It helped Balter tremendously that he had a mentor: a 「believer」 in the 
form of a friend』s dad who fronted him the $1,000 and van he needed 
to get started in exchange for a piece of the action. A few years 
later, Balter』s 「fairy godfather」 sold his share back to Neil and his 
dad—with whom he made amends—for $20,000. It was sorely needed 
financial and emotional support. Like many new ventures, Balter 
was pitifully undercapitalized and highly dependent on 「sweat equity.」 
Along the way, he met up with many doomsayers, accountants 
and lawyers who were convinced that no 17-year-old kid could make 
the concept work, no matter how great his carpentry skills might be. 
(Let』s face it: There are lots of carpenters who never become millionaires.) 
But Balter had that odd combination of ambition, drive, and 


:^) CHAPTER 12 

na.vete that sometimes outsparkles the more judicious voices of conventional 
wisdom. 

The Benefits of Preparation 

Nonetheless, there』s something to be said for preparation. While 
Balter can argue for the 「school of hard knocks」 over traditional education, 
most of today』s more successful entrepreneurs are formally 
educated. In today』s more sophisticated economy, it is not unusual for 
successful entrepreneurs to hold college and even graduate degrees in 
business or technical specialties. 

Tim Prince typifies this sort of entrepreneur. Prince started out, 
though, as a traditional corporate ladder-climber. Right after college, 
he joined Airmax, a transportation-management company in Chicago. 
It was an exciting place for Prince to work because it was growing 
quickly. In five years, he worked his way up the ranks from customer 
service to marketing to sales management. Along the way, he was 
inspired by the vision and leadership of Ken Ryan, his boss and mentor 
there. It was from him that he caught the entrepreneurial bug. 
Soon, Prince decided to try his own hand at business ownership. 

At 28 years old, though, Prince didn』t feel he had enough confidence, 
skill, or credibility to go it entirely alone. Having been well mentored, 
he really appreciated the value of such a partnership. It seemed to him 
that buying a franchise might be a good way to test his entrepreneurial 
wings. After researching the marketplace, he decided on 
ServiceMaster because the systems and mentors were already in place. 

Prince liked ServiceMaster』s policy of teaming new franchisees up with 
more experienced owners to help them through those rocky first years. 
He knows that, as a newcomer to business ownership, he』s bound to 
make mistakes. But to him that』s the price of the experience—the cost 
of trying something new. 

「This is my MBA,」 he says. 「I』m really going to learn how to run and 
grow a business.」 Now that he』s just getting started, he finds the 
process both scary and exhilarating. 「Airmax taught me that you 


WE, INC. :^) 

can』t be afraid of change,」 says Prince. 「If you』re afraid to change, 
you won』t make the moves you need to make to keep growing.」 

Do You Have What It Takes to Become an 
Entrepreneur? 

Like many of the entrepreneurial hopefuls that I counsel, I always 
knew that I wanted to be self-employed. But until I chanced on the 
field of psychology, I never knew what kind of business I wanted to 
own. After more than 12 years of career counseling, I』ve learned that 
most new business ideas come from an in-depth knowledge of an 
industry or field, a meaningful life experience, or a hobby or other 
extracurricular activity. 

Most self-employed consultants fall into the first category. If you』ve 
been working in one industry for a decade or more, consulting might 
seem like a natural outlet for your expertise. In fact, it』s become the 
siren song of the decade for many early retirees, job hunters, and dissatisfied 
executives. But it』s not a panacea for career unhappiness. 
Building a consulting business takes more than hanging out a shingle 
and waiting for business to come to you. Besides industry expertise, 
you also need self-confidence, a market for your services, a financial 
cushion, some salesmanship…and time. It』s not an easy ride; you』ll 
have to get in the boat and row to your destination. 

New York City career counselor Anita Lands believes that many people 
have unrealistic expectations about what it means to be self-
employed. 「They』re operating more out of fantasy than reality and 
may be in for a rude awakening,」 she says. 「You have to be a very 
self-motivated person to make it work. If you don』t generate activity, 
nothing will move. It』s all up to you.」 

Phyllis Edelen admits she underestimated the amount of marketing 
time and skill it takes to build a successful business. Although she』s a 
dynamic trainer with outstanding organizational skills, sales and marketing 
aren』t her idea of a good time. When Edelen formed her own 
human-resources consulting firm in Gary, Indiana, she didn』t expect to 


:^) CHAPTER 12 

return to a more structured environment later. But circumstances 
changed and so did she. 

For starters, she got married. As a newlywed, Edelen felt a need to curtail 
her extensive travel schedule so that she could spend more time 
with her husband. This definitely put a crimp in her work life. The 
harsh truth is this: If you want to do interesting and challenging work, 
you have to be willing to travel to where that work is. Otherwise, you 
can stagnate. Dreaming of a no-travel schedule, Edelen jumped at an 
opportunity to help manage an AT&T outplacement center in 
Chicago. Technically, she was still a consultant on an account, but it 
would be hard to tell her from a regular staffer. Indeed, for any consultant 
who craves variety, challenge, and freedom of movement, it 
wouldn』t be an appealing solution. Translated into real-life terms, 
Edelen worked 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., four or five days a week, for 21/2 
years. When that assignment ended, she took a short break before 
accepting another 9-to-5 position managing Kraft』s downstate-Illinois 
career-transition center. 

「I may be self-employed,」 says Edelen, 「but in my case, the only difference 
between self-employment and a J.O.B. is the cost of health 
insurance and a 401(k) plan.」 She is not alone. Many of her former 
colleagues have made similar decisions. In an intensely competitive 
market, consultants who lack marketing ambition are finding it 
increasingly difficult to compete for more desirable assignments with 
their more extroverted counterparts. 

That said, there』s no mandate that only highly extroverted sales types 
are cut out for self-employment. Although gregariousness certainly 
helps, you can overcome that lack by hiring people who complement 
you and offset your limitations. 

Consider Wheaton, Illinois, financial planner Peggy Tracy. She lives 
the independent consultant』s dream—thanks, in part, to the assistance 
of Julia Schopick, an Oak Park, Illinois, public-relations professional 
who specializes in promoting doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other 
professionals. 


WE, INC. :^) 

Tracy went independent after leaving her job as assistant accounting 
manager for a financial services company. She wanted to concentrate 
on doing the work rather than getting it, so she hired Schopick to help 
promote her business and carve out a niche where her services would 
be welcome. The result: Clients seek her out and she』s created a very 
profitable business. Their collaboration is a textbook example of how 
two consulting businesses can profit by working together. 

Certainly, the ideal may be to spend a decade developing expertise and 
influence within a specific industry before launching a business. 
However, when it comes to entrepreneurialism, exceptions make the 
rules. If all would-be owners took the time to work their way up the 
corporate ladder before carefully planning and starting their own 
firms, the U.S. economy would boast far fewer entrepreneurial success 
stories. 

Joe Mansueto had a love of investing and an unusual—almost 
cultish—fascination with mutual funds. His belief in them became the 
foundation for a Chicago publishing firm that covers mutual funds the 
way newspapers cover sports. Entrepreneurs are, by nature, builders 
and creators—not just of products and services, but also of communities. 
They』re mavericks determined to mold the world to suit their 
needs and dreams. In many ways, Mansueto is the classic entrepreneur. 
Yes, he had some of those innate childhood leanings. When he 
was nine years old, he decided to sell crickets to the neighbors as garden 
accessories. He ordered 1,000 to get started. It turned out to be 
his first entrepreneurial failure: The crickets died. 

Almost from the beginning, he had a great eye for a value. As a sixth 
grader, he was a ham radio buff. This hobby netted him his first real 
taste of financial success when he bought a vintage radio for $100 and 
sold it two weeks later for $300. But he admits that the community 
mattered more to him than the money. The camaraderie he 
shared with other ham-radio fanatics has stayed with him as a happy 
memory. 


:^) CHAPTER 12 

As an adult, when it came time to get a 「real job,」 he sought one that 
would suit his casual lifestyle, intellectual curiosity, and sense of community. 
He founded Morningstar to create it. As the company grew, 
his role was constantly changing. Businesses, like people, have different 
developmental stages and need different types of leaders at different 
times in their histories. For him, that is part of the challenge. 

Creating Your Own Community 

Manseuto enjoys building a community that reflects his values and 
vision. Although many entrepreneurs are driven by a desire to make 
money, others are driven by a need to create community, reminiscent 
of this T.S. Eliot quote: 

When the stranger says: 「What is the meaning of this city? 
Do you huddle together because you love one another?」 
What will you answer? 「We all dwell together to make 
money from each other,」 or 「This is a community」? 

That』s the wonderful thing about deciding to become an entrepreneur. 
If you don』t like the people you work with and for, you can change 
those dynamics by selecting yourself to be your own boss and hiring 
people you respect and admire to work for you. Would you call that 
self-empowerment or self-employment? 

Acting Self-Employed 

Perhaps your ambitions don』t include a desire to head up an incredibly 
high-growth company, but you』d like a little more money and a lot 
more freedom. If so, Northbrook, Illinois, human resources consultant 
Lou Ella Jackson advises bringing more of a self-employed attitude 
to your current career. In practical employment terms, that means 
greater self-reliance and better collaborative partnerships. 

Rube Lemarque, a retired AT&T sales and marketing manager, might 
have carried that concept to the extreme. Lemarque is now a freelance 
professor who keeps six packed briefcases in the office of his 


WE, INC. :^) 

Arlington Heights, Illinois, home. The briefcases contain materials 
and paperwork for the business courses he teaches at three different 
Illinois colleges. Like Paladin of Have Gun, Will Travel, you need only 
call Lemarque and he』ll bring his knowledge to you. 

His new role requires Herculean organizational skills and an extraordinary 
facility for remembering where he』s supposed to be when and 
what he』s supposed to be teaching to whom. Still, he』s loving every 
minute of his new work style. Because his ultimate goal is to land one 
full-time instructorship at a college, his current itinerary is a wonderful 
opportunity to gain experience with a variety of different schools 
and students to see what fits him best. 

As part of a new cadre of workers who are temporarily self-employed, 
this 50+ executive is taking a very aggressive stance toward his vocational 
future. This is the new advice that career experts everywhere are 
touting. If you want to be successful and happy, manage your career 
as if it were a company of one. Because no matter whom you work for, 
your career is your business. Even if you never get to be the official Big 
Kahuna, you』re still the CEO of your own life. 

We, Inc.: Working with Others 
or Starting Your Own Business 
Thought-Starter Worksheet 
1. How do you get along with your boss? 
2. What can you do to improve that relationship? 
(continues) 


:^) CHAPTER 12 

(continued) 

3. Have you ever considered a lateral move? 
4. Would you like to be your own boss? 
5. What kind of business would you like to have? 
6. Do your skills and experience lend themselves to any particular 
options? 
7. Would you describe yourself as a risk-taker? 
8. What kind of risk do you feel most comfortable taking? 
9. Does this have any implications for your future as an entrepreneur? 
260 



WE, INC. :^) 

10. 
Do you see yourself as someone with a lot of energy and persistence? 
11. Are you good at creative problem-solving? 
12. How do you normally deal with failure? 
13. Do you often motivate other people? 
14. Of the examples cited in this chapter, who did you admire the 
most? Why? 

15. In the past, how much responsibility have you taken for your 
own career development? 
16. Can you picture any ways you can take more responsibility? 


APPENDIX 


Your Career Happiness Plan 


You get the adventure you are ready for. 

—Joseph Campbell 

T
T
his set of worksheets is like a performance 
appraisal. You can use it to set developmental 
goals or improve your perform


ance. But its real purpose is to help you increase your overall career 
satisfaction. You can retake it again in a few months or a year to see 
how far you』ve progressed toward becoming a happier, more fulfilled 
person. 


:^) APPENDIX 

Worksheet 1: Life Satisfaction Indicator 
On a scale from 1 to 5 (5 = completely satisfied, 3 = so-so, and 
1 = not at all), how satisfied are you with your life? 
5 4 3 2 1 
Now, rank each of the following areas of your Life Satisfaction 
Indicator individually: 
Career satisfaction 5 4 3 2 1 
Job satisfaction 5 4 3 2 1 
Spouse/partner 5 4 3 2 1 
Health 5 4 3 2 1 
Friends 5 4 3 2 1 
Religious involvement 5 4 3 2 1 
Personal development 5 4 3 2 1 
Professional development 5 4 3 2 1 
Which areas require your most concentrated effort? 
264 



YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

Worksheet 2: Taking Your Career Satisfaction Temperature 
With 「Icy Cold」 being worst and 「Hot」 being best, how satisfied are you 
right now with the following aspects of your work? 
Advancement/level of Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
achievement 
Autonomy (ability to work Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
independently) 
Challenge Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Collegiality Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Contribution Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Control over income Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Control over time Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Control over workload Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Creative challenge Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Desire to serve Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Development of potential Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Education/training Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Growth Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Intellectual stimulation Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Job security Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Lifestyle considerations Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Meaningfulness Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Mentoring Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Money Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Organizational affiliation Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Power Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Personal productivity Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Recognition and respect Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Sense of mastery Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
(continues) 


:^) APPENDIX 

(continued) 

Status/prestige Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Success Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Technical competence Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Wealth Icy Cold Cool Lukewarm Hot 
Worksheet 3: A Second Reading 
List the factors you indicated as 「Icy Cold」 or 「Cool」 in worksheet 2. 
Then indicate the importance of each factor to your overall career satis-
faction. 
Very Somewhat Not 
Important Important Important 
1. 
2. 
3. 
4. 
5. 
6. 
7. 
8. . 
9. 
10. 

YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

Worksheet 4: Action Alert 
When something is very important to you, yet you receive no pleas-
ure or satisfaction in that area, you must develop a plan to get that 
particular need, value, or desire met. For the factors you listed as 
「very important」 or 「somewhat important」 in worksheet 3, brain-
storm about steps you can take to improve your satisfaction with 
them. Write down your ideas in the space provided here. If you have 
trouble with this, review the chapter or chapters that are most rele-
vant to your particular concerns. 

:^) APPENDIX 

Worksheet 5: Accomplishment Profile 
Feeling good about your accomplishments is an important source of 
career satisfaction. To help you do that, use the space provided to 
write about five (or more) things you』ve achieved in your career or 
personal life that make you feel proud and satisfied. 
Story 1: 
Story 2: 
Story 3: 

YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

Story 4: 

Story 5: 

Do you see any patterns or themes in these stories? Has this exercise 
given you some insight on which skills you most enjoy using or 
how you like to work? If so, document them here. 


:^) APPENDIX 

Worksheet 6: Job Satisfaction Profile 
Write down the last 10 jobs you』ve held (either with different employ-
ers or within the same company). If you haven』t had 10 jobs, list as 
many as you can. Then, rank each position according to your level of 
enjoyment or satisfaction with it. The one you enjoyed most will be 
1, the next will be 2, and so on. Finally, indicate why you found these 
jobs enjoyable. 
Job Ranking Reasons 
1. 
2. 
3. 
4. 
5. 
6. 
7. 
8. . 
9. 
10. 

YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

Worksheet 7: Family Ties 
We all inherit a work heritage from our families that can consciously 
or unconsciously influence our choices and/or level of satisfaction. It 
might help you now to remember that heritage and get back in touch 
with some of your early influences. To do that, think as far back in 
time as you need to, to recall your relationships with your parents, 
grandparents, and siblings. Ask yourself, 「What did they want from 
me, anyway?」: 
My Dad wanted me to… 
My Mom wanted me to… 
My brother ____________ wanted me to… 
My sister ____________ wanted me to… 
(continues) 


:^) APPENDIX 

(continued) 

My grandfather wanted me to… 

My grandmother wanted me to… 

Now, draw up a composite picture of what the 「perfect child」 would 
look like based on the roster of family expectations you』ve just 
compiled: 

272 



YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

Worksheet 8: The Phantom of the Family 
Most families have an overidealized hero. Usually, this is someone 
who hasn』t been around to correct that impression. In my family, my 
grandfather has always been described as an extremely gentle, high-
ly principled, intelligent, all-loving man. Because he died when I was 
only six years old, it』s hard to know how much truth there is to that 
portrait. But I do know that it has influenced my family』s values and 
career choices. 
What about your family icon? Who was the carrier of the family val-
ues? How did that person influence your choices and decisions, 
either directly or indirectly? 

:^) APPENDIX 

Worksheet 9: The Wizard Within 
In The Wizard of Oz, the main characters all longed for something 
they felt they really needed to be happy. The Scarecrow needed 
brains, the Tin Woodsman needed a heart, the Lion needed courage, 
and Dorothy needed a way to return home. What about yourself? In 
the following list, put a check next to the traits you need to cultivate 
to become more satisfied: 
______ Like the Scarecrow, I need more experience in the world and 
a chance to use and develop my knowledge and skill. 
______ Like the Tin Woodsman, I need to recover from my traumas 
so that I can recapture my heart and passion. 
______ Like the Lion, I need to learn bravery and courage—to take 
more chances. 
______ Like Dorothy, I need to learn how to recognize and use the 
resources that are available to me. I need more confidence in 
my abilities and an education in the ways of the world. 

YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

Worksheet 10: Facing Your Fears 
Sometimes people back into choices because they anticipate (and fear) 
the consequences of making a choice. Look at the following list to identify 
and evaluate your personal fear factors. 

1. How would you 
feel if you lost 
your job? 
Terrified 
Somewhat 
Scared 
A Little 
Scared 
I Can 
Handle It 
2. Do you worry that 
you』re unmarketable 
because of your skills, 
education, or age? 
3. How do you feel about 
your ability to support 
yourself if you 
don』t have a job? 
4. How does the thought 
of job hunting make 
you feel? 
5. Do you worry that 
you』ll fail? 
6. Are you worried that 
people you care about 
will be disappointed 
or abandon you if you 
fail? 
7. Do you ever fear 
success? 
8. Have you ever been 
scared that your success 
might make other 
people envious? 
9. How do you feel about 
retirement? 

(continues) 

275 


:^) APPENDIX 

(continued) 

Terrified 
Somewhat 
Scared 
A Little 
Scared 
I Can 
Handle It 
10. Do you worry that 
you don』t have 
enough money to 
retire? 
11. Does inactivity 
scare you? 
12. Do you often worry 
that people will think 
you』re na.ve? 
13. How do you feel 
about authority? 
14. Do you ever worry 
that you』ll never find 
a job you like? 
15. Are you afraid of 
getting trapped in a 
bad situation? 
16. How do you feel 
when you stand up 
for your rights and 
beliefs? 
17. What』s your attitude 
toward confrontation? 
18. How do you feel 
about letting other 
people down? 
19. Do you worry that 
you』ll never 「find 
yourself」 or use your 
full potential? 
20. Are you afraid 
to hope for too 
much? 


YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

Worksheet 11: Judgment Day 
Summarize your top 10 worst career-related fears from work-
sheet 10: 
1. 
2. 
3. 
4. 
5. 
6. 
7. 
8. . 
9. 
10. 
Are there any practical, concrete steps you can take that will make 
you feel more confident about the challenges you must tackle to build 
a more satisfying work life? For example, to fight the fear of job hunt-
ing, you can read job search books, prepare a great resume, work 
with a counselor, and practice interviewing. Or, if you』re afraid you 
aren』t marketable, you might read about employment trends and 
opportunities, look for projects in your company that will allow you to 
build valuable skills and experience, sign up for training courses in hot 
new areas, and so on. 
(continues) 


:^) APPENDIX 

(continued) 

Now, you try it: 
Fear: ________________________________________________________ 
Steps to Overcome Fear Timetable 
1. 
2. 
3. 
4. 
5. 
Fear: ________________________________________________________ 
Steps to Overcome Fear Timetable 
1. 
2. 
3. 
4. 
5. 
278 



YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

Fear: ________________________________________________________ 
Steps to Overcome Fear Timetable 
1. 
2. 
3. 
4. 
5. 

:^) APPENDIX 

Worksheet 12: A Second Opinion 
If your 「fear factors」 in worksheet 11 are too high, you need to think 
more aggressively about your situation and set some developmental 
goals to strengthen your confidence. The following checklist should 
help you get started. 
To be less fearful and anxious, I need to: 
1. Improve my skills. ______ 
2. Develop more confidence in my abilities. ______ 
3. Develop my interests more. ______ 
4. Get involved in more social or ______ 
community activities. 
5. Communicate my needs better ______ 
to family and friends. 
6. Upgrade my education. ______ 
7. Expand my network. ______ 
8. Trust my instincts more. ______ 
9. Stand up for my rights and beliefs. ______ 
10. Find a suitable mentor. ______ 
11. Stop procrastinating. ______ 
12. Know more about the job market. ______ 
13. Get professional assistance. ______ 
14. Improve my job-hunting skills. ______ 

YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

15. 
Learn to think more positively. ______ 
16. 
Ask for help when I need it. ______ 
17. 
Be less critical of others. ______ 
18. 
Be less critical of myself. ______ 
19. 
Stop being a victim and ______ 
take more responsibility 
for my own happiness. 
Of the things you need to do to improve your frame of mind (and your 
situation), which ones are you willing to start working on right now? 


:^) APPENDIX 

Worksheet 13: Development Planning 
For each area of weakness in worksheet 12 that you said you』d work 
on immediately, set a developmental goal and create a plan to get 
there. 
Example 
Goal: Develop my interests more. 
Action Plan Date 
1. Go to the bookstore and consider my browsing Oct. 15 
habits. What topics call out to me? 
2. Go to a music store. Buy or listen to something Oct. 17 
completely new and different and keep an open 
mind about liking it. 
3. Take an interest test to clarify my interests. Nov. 1 
4. Read the newspaper』s events calendar and 
commit to attending one totally new activity. Nov. 10 
5. Talk to friends and acquaintances about their Ongoing, 
hobbies, activities, and interests. start now 
Now, it』s your turn: 
Goal: __________________________________ 
Action Plan Date 
1. 
2. 
3. 

YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

4. 
5. 
Goal: __________________________________ 
Action Plan Date 
1. 
2. 
3. 
4. 
5. 

:^) APPENDIX 

Worksheet 14: Your Spiritual Deficits 
The following exercise will help you identify 「what』s missing」 from 
your spiritual work life. Place a check mark next to the statements 
that best apply to you. 
I need: 
1. More emotional connection with my work. ______ 
2. To work more closely with people who share ______ 
my values and beliefs. 
3. A chance to develop and use my creativity. ______ 
4. More freedom. ______ 
5. More balance. 
6. To feel that my work makes more of a 
contribution to society. ______ 
7. To feel a greater sense of purpose. ______ 
8. More interesting work. ______ 
9. More challenging work. ______ 
10. A career, not a job. ______ 

YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

Worksheet 15: Action Alert 
1. Write down your most urgent need from those you articulated 
in worksheet 14. 
2. Is there anything you can do to begin fulfilling that need? If so, 
what』s a reasonable first step? 
3. Write down a reasonable timetable for accomplishing that first 
step. 
4. Do any other people (spouse, parent, boss) need to know your 
goal and timetable? If so, how do you plan to approach them? 

:^) APPENDIX 

Worksheet 16: Harnessing Your Brilliance 
1. Identify your most unique talent, gift, or skill (for example, I can 
really read people; I』m a brilliant sailor; I』m a master negotiator). 
2. Script a scenario in which you use your greatest gift or talent 
productively in the job market. 
3. Now, let your imagination run wild. Brainstorm all the ways you 
could use your talent or gift in the work world if you let your 
brilliance run wild. Be specific. Where would you work? Who 
would you work with? What would you do? 

YOUR CAREER HAPPINESS PLAN :^) 

4. 
What practical constraints prevent you from developing and 
applying your talents? 
5. 
If someone (or something) other than you is holding you back 
or down, is your commitment to that person or activity more 
important than your own growth? If so, why? 
6. Ten years from now, how do you think you』ll feel about yourself 
if you don』t develop your talents or meet your potential? 
7. Is that emotional reality acceptable to you? 
(continues) 

287 


:^) APPENDIX 

(continued) 

8. 
Think carefully: If you could fully develop your potential, how do 
you think it would make you feel? (Check as many of the 
following as you like.) 
______ happy ______ excited 
______ content ______ grateful 
______ scared ______ insecure 
______ worried ______ betrayed 
______ sad ______ overwhelmed 
other 

9. Do any of those feelings account for your inaction? If so, how? 
10. Write an ending to your own story in which you use your 
talents happily ever after. 
288 



INDEX 


A 

adaptability, overcoming failure, 

63–64 
adulthood, 16–17 
adventures, 233–234 
age, 74–75 
alliances, building strategic, 246 
alternative work arrangements, 

209–213 
job-sharing, 211–213 
part-time, 210 
telecommuting, 209–210 


ambition, 29 
anxiety during layoffs, 134–135 
attitude 

layoffs, surviving, 141–142 
relationships with management, 
245 

B 

balance 
alternative work arrangements, 

209–213 
changing locations, 207–209 
early retirement, 201–203 
listening to yourself, 213–214 
scheduling flexibility, 215–216 
simplifying life, 205–207 
starting a new life, 203–205 
taking a break, 199–201 
work/life, 197–220 

beliefs and principles, standing up 

for, 187–188 
boredom, overcoming, 34, 113 
bosses. See management 
business ethics, 173–174. See also 

ethics 

C 

careers 
changing, 14–15, 32 
choice, 3–5 
failure, cause of, 51–62 
generation gap in career 

choice, 5–13 
growth, 13–14 
interest inventory, 18–21 
lateral moves, 246–247 
midlife transitions, 69–71 
personal career interest 

survey, 18 
security, 95–112 
success, 25–45 


changing careers, 14–15, 32 
clock-watching, 114–115 
communication skills, 244 
communities, creating, 258 
compliments, taking, 115–116 
conflicts 

relationships with manage


ment, 244 
viewing positively, 120–121 
work/life balance. See balance 

creativity 
desires, balancing, 35 
layoffs, surviving, 144–146 

criticism 
relationships with management, 
244 
taking, 118–119 
cultural adulthood, 16 

D 

decisions 
accepting failure, 10–13 
career failure, 52–53 


:^) 

defending rights, 186–187 
departure, timing, 160–161 
developing marketable skills, 97–99 
diligence, as key to success, 28–30 
downsizing, 133. See also layoffs 
dreams 

following, 30–32 
「hand-me-down,」 8–10 

E 

early retirement 
saving for, 87 
work/life balance, 201–203 

emotional adulthood, 16 
emotional process of quitting a job, 

162 
emotional well-being, 135–137 
emotions, controlling, 38–39 
employers, 56 
employment. See also jobs 

alternative work arrangements, 

209 
career failure, 52–53 
ethics. See ethics 
job descriptions, 99 
layoffs, surviving, 137–139 
separating work from home, 

127 

entrepreneurialism, 251–261 
aptitude for, 255–258 
attitude, 258–259 
creating a community, 258 
preparing for, 254–255 

ethics, 173–174 
banding together with others, 

182–183 
benefits of, 178–180 
co-workers, 180–182 
defending rights, 186–187 
inner strength, trusting, 

188–192 
lack of, 176–178 
maintaining integrity, 175–176 

INDEX 

rationalizing unethical 

behavior, 183 
role models, 185 
standing up for beliefs and 

principles, 187–188 
expectations 
managing other peoples』, 
137–139 
relationships with management, 
244 

F 

failure, 47–68 
accepting, 10–13 
causes of, 51–62 
celebrating, 49–51 
learning lessons from, 49–51, 

62–63 

turning around, 62–65 
feedback, 244 
feminism, 4 
friends, missing after quitting a job, 

162–163 
full potential, developing, 36 
fun 

activities you love, 231–233 
adventures, 233–234 
everyday, 224–227 
laughter, as the best medicine, 

222 
sense of humor, 236–237 
as a tool for success, 227–231 

G 

generation gaps 
midlife career transitions, 
81–82 

parental career choices, 5–13 
goals, 6–8, 138 
gossip, 244 
Great Depression, 5 
group functions, involvement in, 

121–123 


INDEX :^) 

H 

「hand-me-down」 dreams, 8–10 
happiness, taking responsibility for, 
125–127 
having fun at work, 221. See also 

fun 
health, 77–79 
home life, separating work from, 

127 
honesty, 154–159 
honoring talents, 34–36 
humor, 227–231, 236–237 

I 

income 
and happiness, 17–18 
as motivation, 27 
need for vs. creativity, 35 
quitting your job, 157–158 
saving for early retirement, 87 

inexperience, career failure, 57–58 
inner strength, trusting, 188–192 
innovation 

layoffs, surviving, 140 

security in turbulent times, 101 
integrity, maintaining, 175–176 
intelligences, personal, 36 
interests 

career discovery, 6–8 
personal career interest 
survey, 18 
involvement in group functions, 
121–123 

J–K 

job hunting, 103–105, 161 
job-sharing, 211–213 
jobs 

alternative work arrangements, 

209 
job descriptions, 99 
loss over age 50, 81–82 

loving, 113–131 
overcoming boredom, 34, 113 
performance, 52–53 
quitting, 153–154. See also 

quitting a job 
separating work from home, 

127 
skills. See skills 
work/life balance. See balance 

L 

lack of ethics, 176–178 
lateral moves, 246–247 
laughter, as the best medicine, 

222–223 

layoffs 
anxiety, 134–135 
attitude, 141–142 
creativity, 144–146 
emotional well-being, 135–137 
extra work caused by, 137–139 
innovation, 140 
learning opportunity, 142–144 
surviving, 133–134 
walking away, 146–148 

leadership, 144–146. See also 
management 

limitations 
accepting, 139 
hours to work in a day, 138 
removing the 「age」 factor, 

84–87 
listening skills, 213–214 
loving your job, 113–131 

accepting compliments, 

115–116 
accepting criticism, 118–119 
clock-watching, 114–115 
escape plans, 128 
overcoming politics, 119 
patting yourself on the back, 

116–118 
positive attitude, 125 


:^) 

relationships, 123–124 
responsibility, 125–127 
work/life balance, 127 

M 

management 
bad bosses, 54–56 
and career failure, 53–56 
ethics. See ethics 
expectations, 137–139 
leadership skills, 144–146 
relationships with, 243–247 
risk, 101–103 
self-management, 36–39 

mentors 
relationships, 247–251 
starting businesses, 253 

midlife transitions 
age 50 and over, 72–73, 81–82 
emotional age, 74–75 
health, 77–79 
managing late career changes, 

80–83 
realizing potential, 83–87 
remaining productive, 79–80 
using imagination, 75–76 
waiting for a pension, 71–72 

missions 
and career change, 32 
defining, 30–34 

money 
and happiness, 17–18 
as motivation, 27 
need for vs. creativity, 35 
quitting your job, 157–158 
saving for early retirement, 87 

moral authority, 176–178. See also 
ethics 
motivation, 26–28 

INDEX 

N–P 

networking, 105–108 

parents, role in career choice, 8–13 
part-time employment, 210 
passion, discovering, 33–34 
pension, waiting for, 71–72 
perfectionism, avoiding, 138 
performance 

career failure, 52–53 
maintaining excellent records, 

96–97 
perseverance, 28–30 
personal career interest survey, 

18–21 
personal intelligences, 36 
personal life, separating work from, 

127 
personal responsibility, taking, 
125–127 
politics 
as a cause of career failure, 
51–52 
viewing as a challenge, 

119–123 
positive attitudes, maintaining, 125 
positive reinforcement, 245 
prejudice, 59–60 
preparation, starting businesses, 254 
preparing for the unexpected, 

99–101 
priorities, relationships with management, 
244 

Q 

quitting a job, 153–154 
being honest with yourself, 

154–159 
emotional process of, 162–163 
leaving gracefully, 164–165 
saying goodbye, 163 
timing of, 160–161 


INDEX :^) 

R 

rationalizing unethical behavior, 
183–184 
references, cultivating good, 
160–161 

relationships 
building positive, 123–124 
with management, 243–247 
mentors, 247–251 

responsibility 
accepting, 16–17 
personal, 125–127 

retirement 
saving for early retirement, 87 
waiting for a pension, 71–72 

rights, 186–187 
risks, 39–40, 101–103 
role models, 185 
Rolodex, maintaining, 105–108 
routines, missing after quitting a job, 

162–163 

S 

satisfaction, career, 8–10 

scheduling 
flexibility, 215–216 
work/life balance. See balance 

security, career 
developing marketable skills, 

97–99 
doing good work, 96–97 
innovation, 101 
job descriptions, 99 
job hunting skills, 103–105 
managing risk, 101–103 
networking, 105–108 
performance records, 96–97 
preparing for the unexpected, 

99–101 

willingness to pitch in, 99 
self definition, 5–6 
self-confidence, after career failure, 

56–57 

self-discovery, 5–6, 8–10 

self-employment, 251–261 
aptitude for, 255–258 
attitude, 258–259 
creating a community, 258 
preparing for, 254–255 

self-esteem, 116–118 
self-management, 36–39 
selling issues, relationships with 

management, 245 
separating work from home, 127 
September 11, 32 
setbacks, overcoming, 63–64 
simplifying life, 205–207 
skills 

developing marketable, 97–99 
entrepreneurial, 253–258 
humor, 228. See also fun 
job hunting, 103–105 
leadership, 144–146 
listening, 213–214 
relationships with manage


ment, 245 

success. See success 
soliciting feedback, 244 
Spock, Dr. Benjamin, 63–64 
starting a new life, work/life bal


ance, 203–205 

starting businesses, 251–261 
aptitude for, 255–258 
attitude, 258–259 
creating a community, 258 
preparing for, 254–255 

steps for leaving a job gracefully, 

164–165 
strategic alliances, building, 246 
success 

ambition, 29 
celebrating, 30 
defining a mission, 30–34 
effect of emotional 

adulthood, 16 
fun as a tool for, 227–231 
hard work, 28–30 


:^) 

honoring talents, 34–36 
motivation, 26–28 
secrets of, 25–45 
self-management, 36–39 
taking risks, 39–40 

support systems, poor, 60–62 

T–V 

taking a break from work, 199–201 
talents, honoring, 34–36 
teamwork, 37–38 

involvement in group functions, 
121–123 
relationships with manage


ment, 244 
telecommuting, 209–210 
temporary employment, 137–139 
timing, as a cause of career failure, 

58–59 
trust, relationships with management, 
244 

unethical behavior, rationalizing, 
183–184. See also ethics 

W–Z 

warning signs of job in jeopardy, 

107 
women, career choices, 4 
working with others. See relation


ships 
work/life balance, 197–199. See also 

balance 
work role, choice of, 5–6 
worksheets 

Accomplishment Profile, 
268–269 
Achieving Career Security in 
Turbulent Times, 109–112 
Action Alert, 267, 285 

INDEX 

Business Ethics, 193–195 
Development Planning, 
282–283 
Do You Know the Secrets of 

Career Success?, 41–45 
Facing Your Fears, 275–276 
Fail(ure) Is Not a Four-Letter 

Word, 66–68 
Family Ties, 271–272 
Harnessing Your Brilliance, 

286–288 
Having Fun at Work, 238–241 
How to Love the Job You 

Hate, 128–131 
Job Satisfaction Profile, 270 
Judgment Day, 277–279 
Layoff Survivors』 Dilemma, 

148–151 
Life Satisfaction Indicator, 264 
Oh No, 50!: Midlife Career 

Transitions, 88–92 
The Phantom of the Family, 

273 
Quitting Your Job, 166–169 
A Second Opinion, 280–281 
A Second Reading, 266 
Taking Your Career 

Satisfaction Temperature, 
265–266 

We, Inc.: Working with Others 
or Starting Your Own 
Business, 259–261 

What Do You Want to Be… 
Now That You』re Grown 
Up?, 21–23 

The Wizard Within, 274 
Work/Life Balance, 217–220 
Your Spiritual Deficits, 284 

wrong job, as a cause of career 
failure, 52–53 



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