Archive for the ‘Just a Job’ Category

Honoring my wife and killing myself

July 7, 2010

Here’s a question with a common theme:

“Dan, I have a successful side business built around a weekly podcast I’ve been running now, part time for the past 5 years. Successful meaning it fills a need, has a large, loyal following and it generates a good supplemental income.  I’m miserable at my full time job- not only is it an hour and a half commute, 50+ hours a week taken away from my family, odd working hours and the salary not being competitive I’m physically drained and not mentally or physically healthy.  I’m thinking of going full time internet business because when I put 100% of myself into it –  I come alive, the business financially comes even more alive and I’m able to balance my life out.

The problem is my wife is not supportive of the idea. She feels safer with the weekly paycheck and the health benefits. I feel as though I’m honoring my wife but suffering inside and cheating my kids of a Dad during the best years of their lives.”

Let’s just deal with three major issues here:

  1. The job is “safer and more secure.”  In today’s workplace that is probably not true at all.  No job is secure.  And if you are miserable, you are likely beginning to sabotage your position there.   You simply cannot do well in a job where you are miserable, physically drained and unhealthy mentally.   Your chances of success are greatly enhanced in doing work where you “come alive.”
  2. With your current state of misery your feelings of “honoring” your wife will certainly turn to resentment – sooner than later.
  3. The fact that your wife wants you to continue in something where you are miserable and killing yourself raises some real red flags about your relationship.  Sit down with a coach or counselor and present the facts as you have here.  Get some outside advice about your best options.

My wife, Joanne, would have been very content if I had just gotten a regular job with a paycheck when we first married – or anytime since then.  But she laughs in thinking about me having a “real” job.  She knows how I am wired for change and innovation and she supports that in me even though there has been little “security” through the years.  “Honoring” one another in marriage means embracing how God has uniquely gifted each of us – and trusting that passion and joy will release more success than obligation.

Reverse Telecommuting

June 27, 2010

There are so many new words being birthed by the changing workplace.  Words like “googling” as a verb, electronic immigrants, prairie dogging, ohnosecond, blamestorming, seagull manager, chainsaw consultant, flight risk, assmosis, uninstalled, and cube farm.

We all understand the term “telecommuting” – when you have work from the office to complete at home.  How about the opposite of that – “reverse telecommuting.”  This is the commonplace practice of bringing personal work to the office. It’s no secret a whole lot of time is spent with employees paying personal bills, making personal phone calls, making flight arrangements, medical and social appointments, reading online newspapers, updating FaceBook, and texting family members – all on company time.

Arguably, some of these can only be handled during normal work hours, but how much is acceptable?  According to a recent survey by Salary.com, the average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time.  Yes, companies assume a certain amount of wasted time when they determine employee pay.  However, the survey indicates employees are wasting about twice as much time as their employers expect.  Estimates are that employers are spending $769 billion per year on salaries for which real work was expected, but not actually performed.

Would you be willing to be paid for results only, rather than for time spent in the office?  Would that increase or decrease your compensation?

Sucked into the “blackness”

April 13, 2010

Questions like these are arriving daily:

Dan, Help me, I’m miserable, my current job is literally ruining my life. I’m a fairly young man with a family.  I feel I’m stuck in my current position to “pay the bills” but it is making me severely depressed and affecting every part of my life.  I need to find my passion but I don’t even know where to start. I feel like giving up and accepting my fate.

I’m a single mom, 50+ and in a teenager wage job! If that weren’t bad enough, it’s like Jr high there! I am SICK every Sunday night about going & in 7th heaven when I take a few days off. No other income & few opportunities here. I don’t make enough to live on & today I just can’t take anymore! PLEASE HELP!

Dan, at 35, I feel my job is sucking the life out of me. I have been with the same agency for over 8 years. I lost myself, and got sucked into all the “blackness”. Frequent sickness, weight gain, grouchy with my family, and more recently withdrawal from all my relationships – I know where I am is toxic but I’m at a loss of how to turn around or even down a different path.

“People who are unemployed think the worse possible outcome is not finding another job,” says Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute? “Actually, the worst part is losing your self-esteem. You start thinking, ‘What’s wrong with me?’”

But losing self-esteem can happen without a job — or with a job that’s sucking the life out of you.

  • You can’t do great work at something you don’t enjoy
  • If your work is sucking the life out of you, find something you care about
  • I know you’re talented, but maybe not for what you are doing now
  • If you’re miserable, you clearly are not using your strongest talents
  • Don’t try to “be responsible” by staying in a job you hate
  • Don’t think you’ll just stay with it until you’re out of debt – change now – it’s a whole lot easier making money doing something you love

Chicken Poop and Life Direction

March 16, 2010

I feel bad for kids today who come out of college without ever having had a job.  Those first jobs are a great way to experience the real world and help clarify your true talents.

I sold Christmas cards, peddled sweet corn out of a little trailer, cleaned fence rows, shoveled cow manure, bought and sold bicycles, waxed cars, and grew popcorn before I was 16 years old.  By the time I got to college I knew I wanted to use my brains more than my muscles.

Here are just a few jobs held by people who you may know for other vocations today:

  • As a teenager Mick Jagger worked as an ice cream salesman. After entering the London School of Economics, Jagger also worked as a porter at a mental hospital.
  • Need a rat catcher? Call Warren Beatty. He caught rodents to pay the bills before hitting it big.
  • Warren Buffett’s first job was at his grandfather’s grocery store, although he eventually worked his way up to a gig at J.C. Penney.
  • Before rising to prominence with Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne worked in a slaughterhouse.
  • As a young man, Matthew McConaughey wanted to get away from Texas for a while, so he spent a year in Australia. To support himself, he took on a number of jobs, including one that involved shoveling chicken manure.
  • Jimmy Stewart was a man of many talents, from acting to being an Air Force general. As a young man, though, he had a job painting the lines on roads and also spent two summers as a magician’s assistant.
  • Bill Cosby played four sports in high school, but he still found time to sell produce, shine shoes, and work as a stock boy at a supermarket.
  • Tom Cruise’s family moved around a lot when he was young, but during one stint in Louisville he picked up some extra cash as a paperboy.
  • Brad Pitt did all sorts of things to earn a buck while he tried to start his acting career, including dressing as a giant chicken to promote an el Pollo Loco restaurant.

Most early jobs are not a mistake or misdirection – they are simply part of the clarification process.  But if a young person is “privileged” enough to not have to work they often and up with a fine education and a life that is off track.  Or they discover at age 45 that they are living someone else’s dream.

Help your kids this summer by allowing them to work for the money they want for movies, cars and goodies.  What they get may be far more important than a few dollars.

Making a Living…or

March 16, 2010

How many times have you heard someone say about their work – “Well, at least I’m making a living.” Maybe it would be more accurate to say “I’m making a dying.” The work they describe is unfulfilling, boring, and stressful.  They dread going in on Monday morning – and every other morning.  Often they are embarrassed about their work and admit readily they are doing nothing meaningful; only extracting a paycheck in exchange for their time.

Does that sound like “making a living?” I don’t think so.  They may brush it off as just something we all do; that work is never going to be purposeful and enjoyable.  They may pretend it doesn’t really matter.  But then I hear painful phrases like, “I feel like my soul is being sucked out of me,” or “I feel like a prostitute – in exchange for my life I’m getting a paycheck.”

If you’re caught up in the typical American view of work you may say you’re making a living when in truth something inside you is being killed each day.  Every day, millions of people rush to get to jobs they don’t love and yet those people defend their choices as responsible, practical, and realistic. How can it be responsible to live the biggest part of our lives devoid of meaning, joy, and purpose?

“Making a Living” implies that you are releasing those skills and talents that make you fully alive.  Doing work where the time just flies by – work that you would want to do even if you were not paid for it.  Work that is meaningful, fulfilling, purposeful and profitable.

In a recent issue of Rick Warren’s ministry newsletter, the author of The Purpose Driven Life was talking about this idea of meaningful work. Rick referenced this verse from Ecclesiastes 10:15 (Today’s English Version):  “Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with work.” How do you like that? Have you been worn out at work lately? Did you know that you’ve just been put in the category of being “too stupid to find your way home?”

Well, maybe that’s a little harsher than it was intended to be and you’ll find softer language in other Bible translations, but I like the message. Don’t be so busy trying to “make a living” that you’re too busy to make a life.

And I don’t even have space here to describe what most people are doing to themselves when they think they’re “making a killing.”

Gimme that job!

January 4, 2010

Ever wonder why some people get the cool jobs – even if you have better experience and credentials?  Here’s an example of a guy using creativity to snag a great opportunities. 

HeadBlade President Todd Greene was looking for someone that could handle social media for the company.  He said he was looking for someone like himself, someone who was passionate about the product.  He posted the job on Craigslist and got tons of resumes. But one stood out above them all, by far. Eric Romer was himself a “headblader,” and had been using the product and even blogging about it on his own. Within a day of the Craigslist entry going public, Eric put up the following web page:  HireMeHeadBlade. Now that’s a creative way to get the attention of an employer!

Want to guess who, out of the hundreds of correctly submitted resumes got the job?  Yeah – it worked.  Eric now has a new site up:  HeadBladeHiredMe  where he’s continuing to tell the story.

So what are you doing to stand out from the crowd?  I’m hearing of people sending resumes wrapped around an ear of corn, on a business card DVD, delivered with a dozen roses, or by standing in the boss’ parking spot at 6:40 AM.  Now is the time to be creative – pull out all the stops and let potential employers know why you are someone they won’t want to miss. 

Thanks to 48Days.net member Brian O’Keefe for alerting me to this story.

Sell or Starve

February 16, 2009

To get a job, you have to sell yourself.  To start a business or run it successfully, you have to sell a product or service – every day.  Gone are the days of “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”  If you are going to be successful in any way you have to learn to sell, and do it well.

Here are statements I’m hearing from people who have not learned how to sell:

  • “I’ve applied for lots of jobs but no one’s hiring.”
  • “Everywhere I go they tell me I’m over-qualified.”
  • “I’ve got to just stay on unemployment since the economy is so bad.”
  • “No one can afford to engage a career coach right now.”
  • “I’m not expecting any new customers for my landscape business as long as we’re in this recession.”
  • “I’d love to start a business but I don’t have any money.”
  • “I’ve been rejected by 10 publishers – I guess I’m not an author after all.” 
  • “I started a church but it turns out we were in a poor location.”

The cover story in the current issue of Success magazine profiles George Foreman. (Big Business with Big George) Of course we all know George because of his boxing success – or do we?  No, there are lots of boxers, but we know George because he learned how to sell.  He says his athletic ability was less a factor in his success than his selling skills. “If you learn to sell, it’s worth more than a degree,” he says.” It’s worth more than the heavyweight championship of the world. It’s even more important than having a million dollars in the bank. Learn to sell and you’ll never starve.”

50,000 are Jobless in Nashville

February 4, 2009

This was the recent headline in the Nashville Tennessean newspaper.  Oh no, the sky is falling.  Actually, that number puts Nashville solidly at 6.2% unemployment. So let’s see, that means that we have 93.8% of the people fully employed and going to work every day, or roughly 760,000 who still have jobs.  Experts consider 5% unemployment “full employment” as there are always that many people transitioning or taking a break.  So really we are up 1.2% or about 9700 more people looking for work than normal out of the 810,000 workers in this area.  So why don’t the headlines scream that Nashville has 760,000 people who are getting regular paychecks each week?  Because good news doesn’t sell newspapers.

Be careful how you receive the “news” being offered right now.  You could get the impression that no one is hiring, all banks are failing, everyone is losing their home, and every small business is on the brink of disaster. 

Incidentally we have a 99% chance of sunshine tomorrow and a   1% CHANCE OF HAIL, TORNADO, EARTHQUAKE, AND LOCUST ATTACK!

No Way — Hyundai!

January 18, 2009

Here’s another ridiculous “bail-out” offer.  Hyundai has announced they will allow a customer to buy a new car and then return their Hyundai vehicle if they experience “an involuntary loss of income”, i.e., lose their job within 12 months of purchasing one of their ten new vehicles.

Just a few details.  Hyundai will absorb up to $7500 in negative equity for buyers who walk away from their loans.  Let’s see – the MSRP on a basic Sonata sedan is $24,050.  So if a year from now you turn that baby back in, they may decide it’s worth only $12,050 – which is about what a year old Sonata is selling for now.  If you had paid $2000 in payments during that year, and they absorb the $7500 “negative equity,” you would still owe $2500.  And now you have no car and bad credit.

I’ve got a better idea:

  • 1. Pay cash for your car.
  • 2. Start your own business. Be like Hugh Jackman’s character in Australia“No one hires me, no one fires me.”

Here’s a 1998 Mercury Mystique I purchased recently to help one of Joanne’s young friends who is just making a new start.  It’s flawless inside and out – cold air, great mechanical records.  I paid $800 and then another $330 for new tires.

                               catherines-car-21

Why would a person put themselves in a position of double jeopardy:  a job that may not last and a car where you know you owe more than it’s worth from day one.  There are better options.

What are you full of?

October 27, 2008

Yes, I know times are tough.  I spoke at an event just outside of Washington DC last weekend and had a chance to talk to people who are wondering if there is any reason to be cheerful or optimistic. 

As a Russian priest (1829 – 1908), Father John Sergiev first thought he wanted to be a monk in the remote areas of Siberia – but after a vision, he realized God wanted him to be a missionary right where he was – in the hustle and bustle of the big urban city of St. Petersburg.  While most priests remained in the safe confines of their cathedrals, Father John would go out into the noisy, dirty, crime-ridden slums and back alleys of the city. 

He would find someone down and out in the gutter, sleeping off the effects of the previous night’s drink and activities.  Father John would cup his chin; look him in the eyes and say, “This is beneath your dignity.  You were created to house the fullness of God.”  Wherever he went, people found new hope and optimism because they discovered, or were reminded, of who they were.  Seeing ourselves in the light of who God made us to be is both exciting and contagious.

So, are you housing the fullness of God today?  If you are full of despair and hopelessness because of the current economic situation, I doubt there is room for much else.  If you are angry and resentful because your stocks crashed or you lost your job, I suspect that is what people will first notice about you.

Can you remember what you were created for?  When I hear people complain about how bad their lives are I’m going to start saying, “This is beneath your dignity.  You were created to house the fullness of God.”


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