10 (amongst many) lessons from a lifetime of working

1: Don’t work for money. Well that’s not what I meant. We all have to work for money so that we can pay the damned bills, just don’t take a job because it pays the bills – and if you do, don’t stay there any longer than you need to do so – get out, be yourself, live your dream, do what makes your heart pound, and you will earn all the money you need. Do whatever it is that drives you out of bed each day. Don’t do what others want you to do, that just makes your life a misery. Find work that is allied to the things that interest you and your work will always be interesting. Don’t allow yourself to be bored.

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2: Don’t scam the system. It makes you look like a dickhead. When you accept employment you enter into a contract, there are expectations on both sides. From an employers perspective, you are paid to do the job, not slack around, scam the sick leave provisions, short change the hours work, turn up late, or not turn up at all. You are expected to play nice with others, keep your negative shit to yourself – and if you can’t honour the contract, then f—k off and work someplace else. Just remember your reputation will follow you and while you may have secured a new job before you were fired, you have effectively rewarded yourself for your own bad behaviour – so you will do it again for the next employer – and eventually you will run out of options and end up either unemployable or wrangling trolleys for the supermarket.

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3: You won’t like everyone at work; and believe me when I say a good many colleagues won’t like you. Who gives a shit? Your not there to make friends. You are there to do a job, complete tasks, achieve goals and do what is asked of you. If you make a friend it’s a bonus. If someone doesn’t actually like you, get over yourself and learn how to play nice. Put on your game face and act like you care while you are face to face – or on email, skype, messenger, Facetime, talking with friends etc. You don’t have to put up with their shite out of work, you only invite real friends, those without judgement, to join you for a bbq, a beer or to go clubbing.

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4: The day of the heroic lone ranger has gone. If that is your true nature, then get out of that place and either start your own business or marry someone  that is filthy rich and lets you live a life of senseless nothings. If you can’t play nice, share info, collaborate on projects, ask for help, accept offers of help, work together, step back and let someone else lead without having a major breakdown, without your oversized ego sprouting out the top of your equally oversized head, then get outa there and find a way to work without others. Start a dog walking business or become a solitary farmer or play the sharemarket, or something similar. If you want to succeed you must first help others succeed and be prepared to grow together. If you don’t, no one succeeds.

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5: Many managers are bad at their job. It’s not because they are bad people, to the contrary, its because they are ill-prepared, poorly trained, inadequately supported, lacking appropriate professional development, fed bullshit about how good they are, have poorly developed communication skills and lack capacity for working through conflict. Its also because they are human and sometimes it’s simply easier to capitulate than to work through an issue. Solution: Invest in people before you promote them to be managers and then keep investing in them. The investment will be repaid many times over in reduced conflict and more issues being resolved at the manager level rather than being escalated to the executive suite. If you are finding your management role stressful, source some professional development, grab a mentor or two, engage a coach, join forums, go to conferences and seminars to learn stuff and if all that doesn’t provide you with the tools, either step back from management or leave and work someplace more supportative.

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6: If you have a naturally flippant, irreverent, sense of humor then flip the OFF switch. In a world of so-called equality, workplace health & safety, diversity, cultural respect, equal opportunity, sexual equality and all-round acceptance your flippancy will land you in hot water. Yes the corporate world is PC and just a little bit boring as a result, however it benefits everyone, as we are all different in our own way and anyone of us can be on the receiving end of a poorly conceived story or joke. If you wanna be irreverent leave work and become a comedian, because if you say some that is PC bad then as sure as God made little green apples someone is going to take you to task. ZIP it up.

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7: Don’t turn the office or workplace into your own personal sex haven. Noone gives a shit about your super sized libido. No one wants to come to work on Monday wondering whose arse was on the photocopier or who screwed who out back of the storeroom. Take it home or get a hotel. It’s a place of work, not your personal boudoir. Don’t skite and definitely don’t do it at work. Your moment of unbridled passion will likely have unexpected consequences. Its bad PC, it breaks a bunch of workplace health & safety rules, you risk a workplace harassment claim, you risk being held to ransom at a later date and there is always some fucked up pervert with a mobile phone taking pics.

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8: As a manager its not okay to bully anyone in the workplace. Even when it may appear to be the only way to get a useless employee out of the place. Your strategy might backfire and if it does both you and your employer are going to be in deep shit. Try this at your own personal risk. It should be an action of last resort and you should have a exit plan in place in case its your arse that gets fried. Don’t expect your boss to support you. Regardless of the truth or the evidence your boss is going to run so fast their undies will catch fire. If the evidence for dismissing someone is overwhelmingly obvious and your boss has failed to support your call for dismissal then you either have to put up with an underperforming employee or move on yourself. Its better to leave all the rotten eggs in the same basket while you build a better workplace environment for yourself.

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9: The CEO or the owner is the boss, even if he or she is a complete twat, and many are. They are there to make difficult decisions and they are held accountable for the results. Its your job to do what is asked of you. If you can’t stomach that, then leave. If you can’t work with your boss, then leave. There are plenty of good employers with enlightened managers out there, so go find one and work there. Your social and emotional wellbeing will improve, your bank balance will improve, your social life will improve and you will love yourself again. If you are unable to leave your employer, consider a move to another department or team, however if you do that, ask yourself. Was it my boss or was it me? If it was you, then the same will likely happen in a new team!

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10: Last but not least. Look after yourself first, but not at the expense of others. Avoid the dog eat dog scenario. Its not a race to the top. It’s a team game, where the team wins. You cannot be a good team player if your own life is in the shithouse. Be kind to yourself. Eat well, exercise regularly, drink lotsa water, avoid addictions, tend to your spiritual as well as financial, social, physical and mental needs. Leave your home shit at home and your work shit at work. Be positive and self affirming, remind yourself of all the positive things you do and achieve, avoid the pricks in your life – and you will have set a great foundation for an enjoyable worklife.

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If you want guidance on human resource management, compliance with employment legislation or workforce development email john@johncoxon.com.au for a free, no obligation conversation.

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