Posts Tagged ‘work’

Bulimic Work

May 26, 2008

You know the term – Bulimia. The disorder where someone binges on food and then induces vomiting to compensate for it. As horrible as it sounds, I see people who very much display the same characteristics in their work.

Rob is a layout editor for the local newspaper. His cell phone never stops ringing: reporters are demanding deadlines that are impossible to meet, journalists are furious their stories have been bumped, a national news story breaks 15 minutes before press time, he knows his nagging chest pain is more than just indigestion, and once again he’s missed his son’s baseball game. But he sucks it up – knowing that in just 10 more days he can leave for his annual two week vacation. He’ll unwind and get rid of all this stress.

Or will he? We know that plan doesn’t really work. This bulimic way of handling stress – letting it build to a boiling point and then stopping work completely for several days doesn’t work. It is dangerous and destructive. That daily accumulation of stress doesn’t just go away in a few days of relaxation – it tears down in ways from which you will never recover. It clogs arteries, raises blood pressure, encourages grabbing junk food on the run, reduces concentration and creativity, and saps our spiritual and emotional energy. The ongoing effects are that it makes us more vulnerable to colds and more serious diseases. It sets us up for weight gain, facial wrinkles and strained relationships.

I actually had a physician mention recently that he had considered sticking his hand in a meat grinder – so he could collect disability and escape the daily demands of his position. It may have been said partly in jest but the pressure felt is not uncommon among workers at all levels. Another gentleman told me he had an ultralight plane – and was prepared to make a socially acceptable exit from the life of stress he had created.

Here’s a better plan: learn to deal with the stress daily rather than letting it build up to a boiling point. When you feel tension building, take a deep breath, pull your shoulders back, take a walk around the block, drink a full glass of water, eat a couple of carrots, let your phone take messages or spend 10 minutes in silent meditation. Drive a different way home tonight, check out getting an ergonomic chair, remove agitating music from your work area, and include small “Sabbath” times of positive reflection and anticipation into every day.

Are you “Fully Alive?”

April 19, 2008

Well it’s official – Mondays barely make the cut as productive days.  In a recent survey conducted by staffing firm Accountemps, 57% of executives said Tuesday was the most productive day of the week.  Only 12% ranked Monday as the most productive.  Of course Friday tailed off with a 3% ranking. 

When I chose the title No More Mondays I wasn’t trying to erase Mondays – only the negative stigma we’ve allowed to build around that day.  I want you to love Mondays as much as Fridays.  Oh yeah – that’s what having fulfilling work can do.  If the thought of Monday still makes your blood pressure rise or stomach turn – keep looking and planning.  Don’t settle for less than meaningful work.

2nd century disciple St. Irenaeus said “The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive.”  If the 40-50 hours a week you spend in your work is a boring and unfulfilling time, you are not “fully alive.” 

Lawn Mower or Porsche?

April 16, 2008

If you don’t combine your passion with your work you will never achieve excellence and fulfillment.  I imagine it kind of like having a lawn mower engine in a Porsche.  Yeah, it will move along but it can hardly get out of the way of other traffic and it sure doesn’t give you the thrill and exhilaration that driving a Porsche should.  (I took a friend’s Porsche 959 for a spin recently.  It had been modified from its original 331hp to 615 horsepower – what a rush!)

Every week I hear from lots of people who are still trying to find their passion.  Here are some examples:

Dan, I cannot think of anything that just supremely stirs my drink. I have no passions or dreams. (I’m in my early 50s).  I mean, there are some “warm” areas. But there is nothing I feel like I want to give my life to. The old cheese has moved, and the old dreams are dead and gone. I’m looking for a new one.

 I’m currently working with a high level financial executive who, after 26 years with the same company, is being “invited” to leave.  He’s having to catch up with the new opportunities because for 26 years “I’ve had my head down, and pencil up.”

Today I talked with a 34-year-old who has a history of starting businesses “that have nothing to do with my passion.”  And then he wonders why it’s such a struggle to make them work.

I’m also working with a 48-year-old dentist who after years of frustration says, “I just keep getting better at what I intend to get out of.”

What’s blocking you from finding your passion – and integrating it into your work?  Are you convinced that work is meant to be boring and stifling – only a means to a paycheck?  Do you think that fulfilling God’s will always means sacrificing your true passions?  Do you believe that if you followed your passions your income would drop dramatically?  I believe all of these are false statements.

A couple months ago I wrote a blog on “Is Your Music Still In You?”  The response to that was so overwhelming we now have produced business card-sized magnets with those words on them for a constant reminder to not let that happen.

What’s your reason for not living in your passion?  Share your comments here.  I’ll choose 10 of the most interesting responses and send you one of the “Is Your Music Still in You?” magnets.

Here’s a Bonus – a Free Day

February 28, 2008

Here we are, February 28th – and yes, tomorrow will not be March 1st, it will be February 29th.  That only happens once every four years, in years divisible by 4, such as 1988, 1996 and 2008.  That’s because a complete revolution around the sun takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours.  So every four years, we’ve accumulated an extra 24 hours that we have to get rid of to stay on track with the calendar.

Get rid of it – or see it as an incredible opportunity?  What do you do with an entire day that is out of the ordinary – and extra bonus?  This week Robert and Tonya Harris won $275 million in the Georgia lottery.  With the unexpected money, will they invest in something meaningful or simply spend it?  Okay, maybe you won’t win the lottery but you are definitely getting all 24 hours of an extra day on February 29th.  Are you going to invest it or spend it?  Here’s the time you’ve been looking for to read that great book.  Or that’s enough time to fully develop your business plan to take you to a new level of success.

Incidentally the first thing Robert did was quit his job so he could “live happily.”  Now there’s a hot topic for another day!

Gumby Works Here

February 24, 2008


Remember the green clay humanoid figure named Gumby?  If you ever had a model Gumby you will remember that he was infinitely flexible.  It appears ole Gumby is pretty welcome in today’s workplace.

75% of the employees at Best Buy’s corporate campus participate in their Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE).  40 percent of Sun employees participate in that company’s “Open Work” program, in which they have the freedom to work flexible hours and off-site.  Nearly 50% of the 25,000 employee work force at PNC Financial Services Group is on some type of flexible arrangement including job sharing, telecommuting and compressed work weeks.  Some companies are saying flexible work arrangements are available to all staff.

Companies everywhere are discovering that happy workers are more productive – and one of the biggest factors in keeping people happy is providing them flexible work schedules and locations.  Even the U.S. government has discovered that flexible work schedules result in “greater employee productivity, higher levels of sustained performance, reduced traffic congestion and air pollution, and reduced real estate costs.”Could you imagine working from home for your current employer?  Would you want that arrangement?  Do you have a place in your home where you could have a work mind-set?  Do you need help in creating a flexible work proposal for your boss?

Just be aware that you may be able to increase your job security by being innovative with your suggested work model.  What if you could:

  • Produce more work than a comparable guy in the office
  • Work from your own real estate rather than taking up expensive space
  • Use your own electricity, water and gas
  • Help the company be a “green company” by reducing traffic congestion and pollution

Is the company going to choose your proposal or insist on keeping the slob in the cubicle who drinks too much company coffee, wastes company time by surfing the Net, and expects to be paid for time chatting with the new gal in accounting? 

Shift Work

January 28, 2008

Country music star Kenny Chesney has a new song and video — “Shift Work.”  This is one more of the thousands of songs that have parodied the misery of having to go to work every day.   I know there are some jobs out there that just seem monotonous and boring, but the thing that continuously amazes me is how people claim to be trapped.  As I look around I see work opportunities everywhere – and the opportunity for each of us to choose what we want to do. Yes I know the tendency is to get the cart before the horse – to look for where they are hiring or where you can get a paycheck – before determining what work really “fits” you and what you would enjoy.  But if you agree to take a job when you know what’s involved, then what sense does it make to bellyache and complain about it?   

Last week on a radio show I had a caller who works for the Chicago utility company.  He talked about how he loves going out to fix someone’s broken water line when it’s zero degrees outside.  He knows they appreciate it and he loves having the opportunity to be of service.  Now that’s not a job I’d take in a million years but it goes to show how individualized we can be in finding meaningful and fulfilling work.  Chapter Six of No More Mondays is titled “Secure” or “Imprisoned?”  In that section I caution against the trap of looking for security instead of opportunity.   

Years ago Henry David Thoreau said this: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Incidentally, the Chesney video is really cool — typical Chesney Caribean steel drum allure and the obvious appeal for a life beyond a boring “shift work” job.

Don’t force me to live my dream

January 16, 2008

Each week I create a new online radio podcast — answering a few of the many questions we receive. Here are some of this week’s questions you can hear discussed on the 48 Days Radio Show.  I start this show by talking about how you can “earn” a free 48 Days Seminar Package ($649) by being a facilitator in your company or church. 

1.  I hate my job so much it depresses me. I feel trapped and my attitude at work is costing me opportunities. I try very hard to not think negatively. I need my income but I want out BADLY. I am not good a making friends and would rather work in a position that I could work at alone, any suggestions? 

2.  Married, 42, kids are grown, and debt free except for the house. I make $70K, together we make $130k.. I am working on BA in Business Administration. I am MISERABLE and tired of working for someone else. I want my own business. I don’t know what my calling is and don’t know how to find it or where to start.   

3.  Hello Mr. Miller, I find myself not reading your emails that come to my email account weekly because it forces me to think about how I really need to step out on faith and start living my dream. I am going to start my own business in 2008, so I need to know if I need a Business Plan to start my business. I have two ideas………….. 

4.  I’m self-employed. That’s the good news. The bad news is I really dread what I do. I’ve had two career paths evaporate from under me due to market conditions and company closures, so I went into business for myself. Now I’m faced with long days, customers who won’t pay on time or at all, and I’m physically worn out from performing the work. This is NOT what is supposed to happen. HELP!!!   

5.  I would like to start submitting articles I write to magazines/newspapers for publishing. What do I do to protect the content of my work and make sure I get paid for it? 

6.  Hi Dan, After listening to your podcast I’ve built up my courage to pursue my dream career – illustrating celebrities! At the moment I am working in a stressful atmosphere, doing administration in an auction house. I am eager to quit as soon as possible because it is so depressing, but I don’t want to jeopardize my financial stability while I pursue freelance illustration.  What do you suggest I do? Thank you,

Monster — Don’t Fight Mondays

January 10, 2008

There is a new ad that addresses the distate that Mondays bring to most workers.  You’ll see people grab mirrors, satellite dishes and whatever else they can to run up the hill and then attempt to deflect the sun’s rays.  They are attempting to keep the sun from coming up on Monday morning.  Of course, they utlimately realize the futility of their attempts and then drag off back to the office.

No More Mondays will be released on Tuesday, January 15th.  I think you’ll enjoy seeing the options for dreading Monday morning.  Watch for a special announcement on Tuesday!

Bad Customer — Big Tip

January 2, 2008

Every once in a while a story comes through that seems made for the movies. For seven years waitress Melina Salazar did her best in caring for her customers – even the most cantankerous ones. Apparently her biggest challenge was 89-year-old Walter “Buck” Swords. She made sure his food was hot and she just smiled through his demands and frequent cursing. (Reminds me of Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets with the unreasonable Jack Nicholson.)Well, ole “Buck” just died and left his waitress Melina $50,000 and his 2000 Buick. She says, “I still can’t believe it.”

Now – how would you treat each customer of yours today, or each student, or every co-worker if you knew there was the possibility that one of them would leave you $50,000 and a Buick? Why don’t you just try it for three days? Who knows how your payoff may appear?