Category Archives: work

Not Indispensable

Part of being human is the intense desire to prove worth. To be worth something. The ego desires acknowledgement of the impact your life has made on those around you. And hopefully in a positive way, not a mass murder Columbine way, most people want to be remembered when they are gone.

Sounds extreme?

Yes.

But even on a smaller scale than life or death, it’s what we want. We start families believing being a parent creates little dependants who need you for everything. It makes us feel special. We own pets knowing we are the centre of their furry/feathered worlds. (If fish float your ¬†boat, I’m not exactly sure how this works out for you although admittedly your screensaver behind glass is more dynamic than mine.) Sad is the human who did not realise one day their children will grow up and need them less. That pets can turn on you and bite if ill treated.

The thing is, we take this same attitude into work. Into jobs without soul, without fulfilment. With colleagues who annoy us and bosses who don’t understand us. And, for the most part, we persevere. Age, circumstance, experience (or lack thereof) meaning very often we try outlast the job. We tell ourselves it’s about stability, promotion, that we are ‘invaluable’. Sometimes our companies feed us the same lies, ‘we couldn’t do without you’.

The fact is, no one is truly indispensable. Not in a work situation. No matter how important you think you are. Empires may fall and rise as despots and leaders are executed or rise. But when they vanish, humanity does carry on and nature finds the vacuum.

That is not to say you shouldn’t enjoy your work and be important and significant in it. That you won’t change lives and make a difference to many.

You just have to remember it’s still just a job. It’s only a part of who you are as a whole.

And more importantly, if you hate it, yes, perhaps it’s not easy to change your circumstance. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. And the surprisingly thing when you do is how many of those people who told you they couldn’t do without you will understand and let you go with greater ease than you thought.

Sometimes because they didn’t like you and are glad you are gone. But sometimes because they are your friends and glad you are going somewhere better.

 

 

 

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Filed under balance, learning, Relationships, social, work

Lateral Career Moves

 

My poor long suffering mother has gotten used to her children’s differences in options regarding work ethic to herself. She was of a time and era where you tried to stay gainfully employed and you stuck it out, no matter how good or bad it was. You brought home the bacon (or bread or milk) and were glad of your contribution to household and society.

I am of a different ilk. As are my siblings. The last time I said, ‘I’m fed up I may change jobs’, my sibling sent a picture of a tree, ‘you are not a tree rooted, if you don’t like your work, change’. So I said, ‘I’ve resigned’. Mom, promptly, after only a millisecond of a pause, ‘oh well, if you weren’t happy… Hopefully you’ll get something soon.’

I could feel her poor heart sinking at the thought yet again one of her miscreant children could be attempting to rebound back on her. Secretly she loves having us around but publicly she would prefer us to show some sign of outward success.

She sort of has a point. I lost my job when the economy took a huge hit in 2008. About a third of my industry landed up jobless.

At this point I thought, I’ll go intern somewhere, change careers, or at least, work in an office because my little legs are too tired to want to stand all day like I used to in student retail and restaurant jobs. How hard can it be? I know my alphabet. I can file. I can add. I can even touch type, although I can never actually format anything in Word or Excel.’

HAH. Turns out that temporary jobs are harder to get than you think. One temping agency turned me down before I even turned up as I had ‘no experience’. Another let me in the door and tested my touch typing etc in a horrible hour long test. They then also pointed out I was somehow underqualified (and probably overaged although they didn’t say this) to answer phones, file and play general girl friday.

Not to worry, they would get back to me when something came up. I’m still waiting.

In some ways I do feel for the unemployed.

It was a thoroughly degrading experience dressing up repeatedly for these people, trying to get a slightly above minimum wage job that wouldn’t require standing on the street with a sandwich board handing out flyers or flipping burgers.

I was just apparently completely unqualified for the basics required.

Despite all my so called qualifications and work experience.

Fortunately (or not) I managed to get an opening back into the industry I was already in.

So I took it.

It involved the commute from hell.

But it did pay above minimum wage.

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‘Real’ writers

Once, just once, I went to a writers club. I realised that if you want to be a ‘real’ published author you need to be focused, dedicated, sacrifice, keep a steady eye on the target.

I thought perhaps this focus would be easier found in a group. I imagined this eclectic bunch of people, meeting in beatnik locations, drinking green tea and debating semi colons and metaphor.

The internet told me there was a writers circle at the library (how fitting) down the road from my house.

I carefully constructed a short story and even edited it out and copied it a few times to take along.

It was with some trepidation I went to meet the group. They were both more and less than I had imagined in my head. Run by a very friendly young man, who gave me a printed (self published I suppose) beautifully professionally bound book of short stories done as a collective by the group. Apparently they give one complimentary to all new members.

The intense young man was accompanied among others by a bearded Terry Pratchett character (sans hat) and a housewife who clearly had a lot of time to write, along with a random scattering of people who definitely came from all walks of life.

The thing is, when it came to discussing work, the Terry Prachett character, intense young man and frustrated housewife hauled out actual scripts to discuss. With full plot, chapter, in depth character analysis.

I felt completely out my comfort zone, me with my casual blog postings and the flippant Bridget Jones style writing I was doing. (Even though I had tried for a more dramatic short story that day.)

‘Your issue,’ said Terry Pratchett guy,’is your blogging. It’s like turning on a tap and letting it drip. All your creative juices are dripping away. You need to be more focused.’

I’m sure he’s right. Focus is something I’m seriously lacking in general, unless given an actual incentive, good or bad. Like a penalty for not completing. Or a huge book advance (yeah right). Something that has consequences and also makes the actual production of work a priority rather than a luxury.

Needless to say I did not return to the writers group although I meant to.

I still feel guilty I got a free book out of it as a consequence.

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Filed under balance, memories, motivation, work

First World Madness

So there is a big turning circle near my house. If you were going slowly enough you could probably get five cars into it. The water suppliers in their intelligence are digging up the road nearby. This has resulted in the turning circle turning into a something like a five way stop. All roads coming into the circle have to be on a traffic light system but some tributary roads have also been affected as they come out very close to the circle so are also on the light system.

Most of the time this is semi automated with these lights they set up portably that flip automatically from light to light in sequence, while irritating the other three or four lines of road users because if you jump a light you get to a point where the traffic is one way and you can’t cross, you are just stuck in the circle.

Except the other day there was a really bored guy standing there switching the portable traffic light on and off. And he’d have to communicate with his mate on the other side via walkie talkie to ensure they were in sync. Not unlike the proverbial waving the red flag guy with a bib who knocks off for lunch and evenings so roadworks have to be done in the day.

So England reverted to being like SA only with a bit more technology.

Health and safety.

Like today.

The fire alarm went off. This is an usually big office. So fire wardens have sticks with signs on and hi vis jackets and you find your sector and your floor.

Turns out the photocopy guys in the basement have their own sign, ¬†they seem to have lost the jacket. The thing is, there are TWO of them. TWO. If they can’t tick off a list with two I don’t know. Especially as they are like the master and the sith, it is more likely they are both at the pub or dead together in the building. But that’s procedure for you…

 

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Filed under anecdote, modern living, work

Secrets to Getting Ahead

I think I’ve said before I suck at office politics. I was reading a really interesting article by another blogger on Google interview questions though. And I went to this strange management thing where they discussed recruitment and how you test people for suitability in a group interview process. (I don’t know what I was doing there as I’m not ‘management’, I’m just the disruptive odd cog in the clockwork.) Which got me to thinking about how people advance their careers.

So my advice in moving ahead, not that I follow it, as it goes against most my principles, morals, patience and ethics not withstanding:

  • I think I’ve mentioned this before on a post. Say back in slightly different words after a ten minute interval what the big boss just said. For some reason bosses don’t seem to realise you just mimicked them and often think you are very clever for coming up with THEIR idea. Either way, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they seem to fall for this easier than one would expect
  • If it is a person of the opposite sex (or even the same sex if they are that way inclined), flirt. Subtly. But never go for drinks or anything with the person concerned. Just drop a lot of hints in meetings and around photocopiers about your abilities
  • Create a posse. Gather everyone on your level and below and make them feel good about themselves. Have them reporting back to you as your eyes and ears to all possible developments you can abuse. Also, they are handy at covering for you when you are late/hung over/bad at your job.
  • Bring food into the office. People really are that shallow. You have to be tactical in that you ‘just love baking’ or ‘was just passing the store at lunch and thought we could all do with a little lift’ but some people do really mistake a few biscuits for generosity and your being a team player even while you are busy stabbing daggers into a coworkers back
  • Don’t come in late but it doesn’t really pay to come in early. Rather hover around and try outstay your boss by a couple of minutes a few times a week then rush out the door when they have left. It makes them think you are a superhard worker.
  • Run don’t walk to meetings, this also deludes the boss you are really busy and packing your hours in.
  • Volunteer for whatever after hours activity suggested, no matter how stupid, whether a team sport or babysitting the boss’s kid
  • Ask people a lot of questions about themselves and nod in deep interest and agreement. Never sound like you know the answer to what they are saying but imply they are vastly superior in knowledge and experience, no matter how stupid or novice they are. (This flatters senior management AND the posse you are collecting)
  • Always look eager to please.
  • Dress as if every day you are going for a job interview.
  • Cultivate an interest in whatever sports/teams/hobbies your boss and colleagues partake/follow so you can make general silly small talk with them at any point.
  • Kiss a lot of ass. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, but sadly it does…

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Filed under modern living, motivation, Uncategorized, work