Tag: self-reliance

#56 Entitlement at Work: When They Owe You

September 10th, 2021 by

If you feel you’ve ‘earned’ your keep, if you believe they ‘owe’ you, then this blog post is a must read. Learn about the effects of entitlement at work and how you may be selling yourself short.

On a Macro Level

There is no doubt you are a hard worker. You go above and beyond if you can. Colleagues enjoy your camaraderie, the boss trusts you, and you know how to be resourceful. In some respects, you are every employer’s dream.

In return for being a wonderful employee, you may feel a bit of entitlement at work. After all, they should owe you for your strenuous efforts and for cleaning up all those messes you didn’t ask for, right?

Your version of entitlement may look like:

  • I deserve XYZ for all I’ve done
  • I performed better than so-and-so and they should recognize that
  • This company would be hurting if it weren’t for my efforts
  • They could at least say “Thank you”
  • I expect to be compensated for this

On a macro level, entitlement at work means you believe you have the right to something. You believe they ‘owe’ you. 

On a Micro Level

Let’s dissect this a bit more. A person produces results ABC and consequently believes they are owed XYZ in return. This assumption presupposes there was some kind of per-arranged agreement or contract. 

For example, you pay Amazon $10 as you place an order for a book. You are then entitled to that new book. In this case, they owe you the new book. 

As an employee, you signed a contract to fulfill tasks associated with a job title. Thus, the employer owes you a compensation package as stated in the contract – no more, no less.

When you anticipate or expect entitlements at work, above and beyond your compensation package, you engage in career attachment. On a micro level, career attachment is when you rely on external outcomes (entitlements) to fulfill an internal, emotional need (See Post #35). 

If you are attached to specific outcomes at your external job, then you set yourself up to be internally disappointed. The reason is because outcomes are beyond your control.

When You’re Missing the Point

What I’m about to state could pose a new way of thinking for you. It may frazzle your brain, so bear with me and try to be open-minded.

One purpose in life is to overcome obstacles so we can transform into a higher version of ourselves. A way to do this is through our job. It is virtually impossible to beat challenges and improve emotional maturity if you depend on certain outcomes (such as a promotion, a bonus, a thank you, etc).

It is possible to rid yourself of the desire for entitlements at work, i.e. to detach yourself from your job. Here is a brain exercise to get you started. These questions will help you shift focus away from the externals and toward internal recognition. Warning: answers require deep levels of thinking!

  • Can internal acknowledgement of your own work ethic and your own work efforts serve as your reward? 
  • Is it remotely possible to remove the desire for external recognition knowing you learned some things and grew your intellect?
  • What if your spirit knew how hard you worked and that in and of itself is good enough?
  • What if you laid your head down at night with the visceral satisfaction of knowing you did the best job you could?

The conclusion, my friends, is that when you chase and obtain external rewards, they are often not ‘good enough’ and you will continue the cycle of chasing. The point of work isn’t to fulfill your emotional needs. The point of work is to face and defeat all the pains, challenges, and undesirable events to upgrade yourself.

Podcast Episode: Entitled Engineers

I experienced the phenomenon of expecting rewards during my days as a young engineer. I share my own pain and suffering due to entitlements at work in this podcast episode. Don’t make the same mistakes I made:

6:59 Why I felt like a “complete failure” after obtaining my master’s degree in engineering
13:00 Why I walked away from the life I worked so hard to create
18:03 When family and friends don’t ‘get’ your problems
25:45 The profound life question that haunted me as an unemployed professional
28:43 The dangerous disconnect between entitlements and reality
34:23 My best quote and one question for engineers who want to be happy

What are you attached to in the workplace, is there something they owe you … tell me about it!

If you enjoy this content, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn and ask me about free strategy sessions for your career!

#47 Your Performance Review: Is it About Performance?

May 7th, 2021 by

Why does it seem like your performance review wasn’t even about your performance? Have you left ‘the room’ thinking, “It’s so unfair … I deserve more … they don’t even know all the things I do … etc.”

Because I care about your health and wellness, I am going to save you some heartache here. I’ve been there done that, and it is no way to live!

What to Do?

First, let them have it.

Let them have their way with the antiquated process they refer to as a performance review. What I mean is, allow them full ownership and detach yourself from the outcomes (See Post #35). If your emotions are dictated by this nebulous process that utilizes the input of others, you will (almost always) find disappointment in the end.

Emotional wellness should not be dictated by external things outside your control.  

One trick to help with detachment: think of your performance review as a credit report. Other people, who you don’t choose, who know little about you, get to hold you accountable. These people judge you against constraints without your consent. Then, they rank you based on said constraints, resulting in a punishment/reward system. You virtually have zero control over the process, rules or decision-making.

You’re left with the output, which may or may not be representative of your behaviors.

The performance review is part of a process that fulfills an organization’s goals. It caters to their own guidelines, business objectives, and even offers legal protection. According to bizfluent, “Federal and state laws regulate employee performance reviews.”

Let the employer own their performance review, their processes and the stakeholders. Of course, if you disagree with written remarks then you must pick and choose which battles to fight. But in general, release the whole process from your mind and let them have it so you can make space for more productive matters.

What NOT to Do

I highly advise against radical attempts to improve next year’s review. 

Do not work extra ‘hard’ or go above and beyond simply for the sake of achieving a ‘better’ review. Your health and wellness are priceless, and aiming to improve the next review can deplete you. It can insidiously drain your energy while sucking the life out of you, creating resentment toward the employer.

And be aware – you’re fooling yourself if you believe, “I’ll just work harder, I’ll stay longer, I’ll jump when they snap their fingers and do all things necessary…” At the end of the day, at the end of the year, you will be judged by others.

Therefore, apply your energies where you have the most control: your own development.

What Matters Most

For a moment, forget about the colleagues, the boss and the customers. Instead of wondering, “What do they think, how can I please them, what will they say, etc.,” I invite you to redirect these questions.

What do YOU think about your performance? What would YOU tell someone about yourself, your work ethic, and your accomplishments? This practice, my friends, is both a difficult yet extremely rewarding aspect of self-development.

Here’s the thing. Management may choose to dismiss your successes and accomplishments. But at the end of the day, you know your performance level. You understand something that no one else possibly can – your own efforts. That’s what matters most: holding yourself accountable to you.

Why does that matter the most?

Accountability is a self-reflective habit that over time will start to create something amazing in your life: sustainable happiness. Accountability includes redirecting your energies away from the forced performance review and instead applying them toward:

  • Tackling your day-to-day obstacles with the provided resources
  • Being like the bigger adult in the room
  • Deliberately choosing productive responses in light of circumstances

Focusing energies inward allows you to recognize, cultivate, and apply self-development to your job and to your life … unlike a biased performance review, which vanishes into the digital world of bureaucratic formalities.

Let me know how unfair your mandatory performance review was and how it affected you!

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#39 How to Have More Control

January 15th, 2021 by

Are you frustrated living at the effect of others? Feeling helpless or out of control? This article offers a way to start and build upon a foundation so you can have more control in life. I share three basic questions for you to answer when life hands you lemons. The better you can answer, the more control you will have.

What do I Know for Sure?

This is an insightful question that will open your eyes like you never imagined. The reason is because we often believe some things (or a lot of things) are true when they are not. There is a critical distinction between what you believe to be true versus what is true.

For example, you may believe, “My boss is out to get me, I’m not treated fairly.” The reason you believe this to be true, perhaps, is because you have evidence. It appears your boss reprimands you for mistakes, doesn’t approve vacation requests, and didn’t give you a raise. Thus, your logical conclusion is that the boss is targeting you unfairly.

Let’s pause for a moment, and ask, “what do I know for sure?”

Do you know unequivocally for sure the boss is out to get you? Actually, no, you don’t. That is a conclusion your mind has drawn up. Is it unequivocally true you are treated unfairly? Let’s dissect fairness – what is fair and how does it apply to everyone?

Does the boss reprimand you only for your mistakes and not others … has the boss ever denied others’ vacation requests … could there be a reasonable explanation you were the only one denied a raise?

This exercise, “what do I know for sure?” will help you shed light on your self-talk, which could become self-destructive if not put in check. It is a starter question that will springboard your way to having more control.

How Can I Help?

This is a beautiful question. It helps your mind break out of the victim or blaming mindset. “But I am a victim!” you might quip. “But it was so-and-so’s fault!” Those beliefs resemble a kind of self-pity, poor-me mentality that fuels negative energy. Negative energy leads to negative actions. I recommend avoiding counterproductive self-talk. It is an easy path, requiring little resistance that promotes downward spirals.

Instead, if you’d like to have more control in your life, I recommend a different path. The path this more difficult and could make your brain hurt. Find answers to, “how can I help?”

Referring to the example above, suppose your boss is out to get you. Suppose you believe this to be a fact. “How can I help?” will get your gears turning in a more positive direction. I am not claiming you go to extremes and try to be best friends. However, I guarantee you can dig deep and find small ways to impact the situation.

“How can I help?” may invoke a variety of answers. It could translate to your job efforts, your timeliness, your communications, maybe even the way you carry yourself. This question does not imply you are at fault or that you’re doing things the wrong way.

It is a positive question that opens the mind to exploring positive actions.

What Does Great Look Like?

When question 1 and 2 seem futile, you can try answering, “what does great look like?” We all want to be great, right? We all want to do great things and make great impacts, don’t we? This question is another way to have more control.

When you’re in a tough situation and it feels like the only way is down, think about greatness. Think about how you could create greatness with available resources. I’m not stating you must solve all problems, and you certainly can’t solve other people’s problems.

I am suggesting you find a way to start small. Maybe creating greatness could mean smiling more. It could mean asking the colleague who hates you if they need anything. Using the example above, it could mean calmly sharing your evidence with the boss to maturely discuss your concerns.

The uplifting impact these three questions can generate are far superior to the negative impacts caused by dwelling or self-pity. Another reason I recommend these three questions is because they are open-ended, ready to be tailored by you and for you. There are no right or wrong answers.

You can have more control in your life, and it starts by answering the three questions above. I am not taking credit for these questions. They originate from a phenomenal TedX Talk by therapist, leadership expert and drama researcher Cy Wakeman. I encourage you to watch as she eloquently explains the nature of these power questions.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#31 “My Employer is Taking Advantage of Me”

September 25th, 2020 by

It was bad enough you felt connected to your job 24/7 prior to COVID-19, thanks to work cell phones. You could not have imagined how much worse the lines would blur. With most professionals working from home, work-life boundaries are muddled as you bitterly realize, “My employer is taking advantage of me.”

It’s Just the Way Things Are

Post #29 summarized an eye-opening interview I recorded with Stephanie Slocum, Career Coach at Engineers Rising. She asked riveting questions about employment and layoffs that people like you want to know the answers to. I offered my insights about job security, worthiness, people-pleasing, work identity vs self-identity, and other impactful topics.

The most common topic people ask me about since the interview is, “My employer is taking advantage of me. It’s just the way things are. How do I say no?”

Some of you are working 12+ hours/day while struggling to complete assigned tasks and take care of a household. You may receive emails throughout the evening with an unreasonable expectation to complete requests by the morning. The examples are numerous, but many people believe this is the way things are. When the employer says jump, your brain is programmed to ask how high.

When you have bought into the mentality that this is the way things are, it is highly likely you will not question the system. It is highly likely you will not push back, and you begrudgingly continue to burn out.

Saying No

You may not realize that setting work boundaries and diplomatically pushing back is an option. It may sound too foreign a concept, especially if you tell yourself you cannot afford to be unemployed.

The reasons to avoid saying no or pushing back include, “My reputation might be damaged; I don’t have a choice; my next raise will be poor; I may be the next to get laid off, etc.”

The option to say no to unreasonable work demands is available to you – it is possible despite the doubts that come up. True, others may snicker or point a finger, and the boss may criticize. But, which is the higher price to pay: the risk of job loss with a disrespectful employer who doesn’t recognize your needs and pushes you over the limit, OR an over demanding life of work that is dedicated to appeasing others’ unrelenting, infinite demands?

Employment is a partnership, not a dependency. Do yourself a healthy, long-term favor by learning the art of saying no.

If you’re a disgruntled, hard-working employee who believes “my employer is taking advantage of me,” I invite you to watch my insightful interview on Youtube. It could be the start of a much-needed, restorative relationship you create with yourself.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#24 Did your Employer Break a Promise to You?

June 19th, 2020 by

“It’s better to receive a smaller raise now so you can get a bigger raise later!” Have you heard, “Working 60+ hours a week without overtime is an opportunity for you to shine.” I could go on as you nod your head yes, but you get it. This common rhetoric is no laughing matter. How are you supposed to be a motivated, impactful employee when your employer breaks a promise to you?

A Grain of Salt

Imagine a time when your friend, spouse or loved one make a promise they didn’t keep. Were you devastated or disappointed? In hindsight, you might be able to see the signs clearly and you can’t believe you were so naïve. On the other hand, some people keep their promises. And you know you can count on them.

What about when your employer breaks a promise to you? First, for anyone to break a promise, a promise must be established up front. This is tricky and the nuances can be inconspicuous. Secondly, if your employer clearly makes a promise to you, it is your choice to believe or disbelieve. Sadly, employees tend towards believing the promise and simply hoping for the best. Lesson learned is that sometimes promises should be skeptically received with a grain of salt. Or several grains of salt.

Who Needs Promises

Where does that leave you, what are your options when your employer breaks a promise to you (see Post #21)? Rewind back to the point when your manager made this so-called promise. It was your self-obligation to decide if this promise was believable. Do you know how to find out if a promise is believable? You request the conditions in writing, to be signed by management. When the signed agreement is in your possession, congratulations, you have yourself a promise! If they don’t agree to their promise in writing … well, you can form your own conclusion.

Your management, by the way, is within their rights to tell you what they think you want to hear. They can promise the moon. The point is that people tell you things all the time. Your self-obligation is to use the best judgment and decide whether to believe. It’s a crappy road when your employer breaks a promise to you. The wrong question is, ”How could they do that to me?” The critical questions are, “Why did I want to believe their promise in the first place? How is it I put myself in that position?”

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#23 Life Coaching Misconceptions

June 5th, 2020 by

I do not tell people what to do, I don’t offer advice and I’m not a therapist. Rather, I guide people down the path to discover answers for themselves. Life coaching misconceptions can deter you from this life-changing process; I will discuss two false beliefs.

My purpose as a life coach is to introduce people to themselves. You believe certain things about the world around you; you believe certain things about yourself. I hold up a mirror, ask you to reflect and I take your brain to places it has not been. The purpose of getting coached is that you get out of your own head, expand your myriad opportunities and become grounded so as to think in useful terms (see Post #18). This process transforms you into an emotionally mature, self-confident thinker who makes purposeful decisions. I’d like to clear up two common life coaching misconceptions in an attempt to be transparent with my coaching style. Note, I cannot speak for other life coaches; I speak for my own practice.

Myth 1: “We should be happy all the time.”
Accuracy: There is no good without the bad.

One hundred percent happiness is not an idea that I teach to my clients, nor do I believe it to be true. This is a typical life coaching misconception. In fact, my stance is that there is no good without the bad, there is no great without awful, and there is no happy without the sad. Part of our human experience includes contrast. It is a given that we are going to experience the full spectrum of emotional contrasts during our lives.

What my life coaching offers you is the ability to handle the awful parts of life and enjoy the positives. It teaches you how to think in a self-serving way despite your negative circumstances. You learn how to process emotions. When you understand where your emotions come from, you can use them to your advantage. Emotions are the fuel for our lives. Everything you do and say stems from the emotions stirring up inside you.

Myth 2: “We should set goals and achieve them so we can be happy.” Accuracy: Reward is found in the journey, not the destination.

This life coaching misconception may leave you curious. Our typical society leads most of us to believe achievement is essential to our wellbeing. For example, it’s good to achieve a stellar grade point average, a high salary, a stable job, or a large house because that is what success ‘looks like’. We are fed messages throughout our lives that the achievement of tangibles or intangibles equates to happiness.

I teach my clients that while achievement can be a great thing, it is not the end all be all. This is true because after having achieved that wonderful goal or item, you think about the next one and you are left wanting more. When you derive fulfillment purely from the end achievement, you will never gain long-term satisfaction. Rather, you will be left with another empty void to fill.

The purpose of goals, my friends, is not to achieve happiness. Whether you achieve the goal itself is irrelevant! The purpose is to take yourself on an uncomfortable, demanding, self-discovery with bumps and traps along with way. Strategizing a way through obstacles is what forces you to grow and evolve. The harder the journey, the higher the reward. Achievement of a goal is simply a fun byproduct; the true reward comes from conquering your grueling obstacles.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#22 Have Trouble Saying No?

May 22nd, 2020 by

Do you find yourself saying yes when you secretly want to say no? Such as when your boss asks for your expertise on a thick draft knowing your plate is full. Or, an overseas customer would like your participation on a 4am conference call, at their convenience. You have trouble saying no and subsequently oblige because this is part of the job. Right?

The Dilemma

As a diligent, dependable employee, you have trouble saying no, whether in response to unreasonable requests or small favors. First, you welcome challenges that allow you to contribute solid results. Second, you feel pressured. After all, what were to happen if you said no? The only way to find out what would happen is to start saying no, but you don’t want to take the chance. Instead, you overcommit yourself to the point of exhaustion.

People-pleasers, those that have trouble saying no, reluctantly say yes at their own expense to gain favor with someone else. You are painfully aware that you don’t want to provide a service. Then you regretfully spend energy to perform this service, stealing your time away from things that matter. To add to your frustrations, you end up resenting the person for whom you provided this service. At the end of the day, you bitterly ask yourself why you have trouble saying no.

Internal Versus External Approval

Your justifications for saying yes will vary from, “they might fire me” to, “I can’t say no.” Whatever your reasons, they are rooted from the same issue: fear. You fear for your reputation, your job and your confidence (See Post #04). Fear can a powerful influential force, and others may use your fear to their own advantage.

Your fears are born from an inability to gain internal approval – you struggle to please yourself. You see, when an unwilling yes translates to gaining others’ approval, you are filling a void. This void includes a lack of self-respect and a lack of internal satisfaction with yourself. You fill this void by pleasing others, i.e., you strive for external approval. When colleagues, friends or bosses are happy with your capitulation, the urge to gain internal satisfaction ceases. Your deep-rooted fear grows over time as you consistently seek external approval.

You must be willing to be disliked by others so you can like yourself. Boss included.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#19 COVID Effects: Do you Secretly Wish to be Laid Off?

April 10th, 2020 by

Restaurants are only permitted to serve takeout, students must adjust to online learning and employees find themselves working from home. If they’re working at all. Many service and professional workers have been pushed out of their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You feel sympathy for the newly unemployed as they scramble to figure things out. However, in the midst of their unwelcome unemployment, you secretly wish to be laid off.

Old Problem Solved

In your mind, a forced layoff means you get to sever ties without submitting your 2 weeks’ notice. That solves many problems for you! First, it provides an easy explanation during future job interviews. “They laid me off due to COVID downsizing” seems to take responsibility away from you as the employee.

Second, your spouse has no control over your being laid off. If only your employer let you go, you wouldn’t have to convincingly persuade your spouse that your time is up. The third issue a layoff will resolve is your reticent desire to get the heck out of that place. You can create long list of reasons why it’s time to leave; or, perhaps you’re holding on to one significant reason. Your bottom line: secretly wishing to be laid off paves the easy way to other, more satisfying employment.

New Problem

My challenge to you: how will you handle similar circumstances in your new place of employment? Imagine this: pretend you eventually find a better job with a better salary and a better commute (see Post #08). You’re as happy as can be for several months – this is what you’ve always sought in a career… until it’s not.

How would you handle your new circumstance if, let’s say, one day you learn the company is sold? How would you handle a new boss, a reassignment to a new program, or a round of salary cuts? When a career checks all the boxes and life is well, you’re not challenged to evolve, grow or to practice self-awareness. It’s an insidious deceit for all of us when life operates as a well-oiled machine.

Adaptability

Even a well-oiled machine wears down and requires maintenance. Just when you believe that new job is perfect and meets all your requirements, one day you’ll find that it doesn’t. Will you then think about searching for the next one?

When you next job isn’t what you thought, are you going to secretly wish to be laid off again? A layoff (or a new job) may temporarily provide relief from current career woes. The best long-term solution, however, is to work on your mental adaptability skills. You will be a happier, more productive and resilient person if you adapt your brain to job circumstances rather than forcing job circumstances to adapt to your brain.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#14 Who is your Mentor?

January 31st, 2020 by

Who is your mentor? If your answer is, “I don’t know”, or “this is a silly question” or “I don’t need a mentor,” this post is for you. Mentors are part of your support network, and everybody needs support. They serve a special function in your life despite your age, capabilities or experiences.

Mentors are Critical

Perhaps you have experienced multiple employers, holding various titles in many environments. Congratulations for having broadened your professional portfolio. Perhaps you are retiring tomorrow. Or, maybe you are reading this and it’s your first week on the job. Despite your vast array of experiences, or lack thereof, a trusted mentor is essential to your professional or personal wellbeing.

Mentors can offer differing views and alternate perspectives. They may not necessarily be smarter, wiser, or better educated. That’s okay, a mentor doesn’t have to have surpassed your accomplishments. The reason mentors are important is because they will offer questions and pose solutions under the purview of their own life experiences. 

Open your Eyes

Your main decision-making tool is undoubtedly the own view of the world as you’ve experienced it. When allowing mentors to share their views, opinions, their successes and failures, you vicariously become educated through their lenses. Why does this matter? It matters because you are narrowly restricted to knowledge based on your limited experiences. Engaging with a mentor is like traveling to new places; your eyes will be open to possibilities you couldn’t have dreamt about (see Post #18).

So, who is your mentor and how are you going to find them? Whether you retire tomorrow or in 40 years, a mentor can help you stay grounded, motivated and open-minded. Open your eyes to others’ experiences and gain priceless knowledge!

The more you learn, the more you realize that which you don’t know.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#13 How Much Do You Depend on Your Employer?

January 17th, 2020 by

Hmmm… employers provide stability, security, and intellectual stimulation, correct? Perhaps you rely on your employer for happiness, identity or a way to pass the time? If you answer YES to any of the above, you may be unnecessarily abdicating your personal power. Let’s take it back.

Who Holds the Power?

I challenge you to read this sentence and analyze your thoughts around it: “I don’t have to depend on my employer because I depend on my brain.” What kind of feeling does this bring about? And, can this statement be true?

Your mentality, your actions and all choices have brought you to this moment in your life (see Post #17). In other words, your brain has produced your current status. Your employment is a result of your brain’s hard work and sacrifice; it is not a stroke of good luck. You should never feel “lucky” that you are employed – contrary to what your management may suggest during tough times.

Rather, your employment is a consequence you created by using the most powerful resource on the planet: your own BRAIN.

Depend on YOU

A dependence on your brain, not your employer, opens the door to create a life uninhibited by employment constraints. For example, all will be okay should your employment unexpectedly disappear because you will calmly turn to your brain for answers. Just as important, a dependence on your brain affords you the confidence to respectfully say no to the boss when appropriate, or to happily go home after 40 hours of work. 

Your brain is designed to solve problems. A dependence on your own brainpower will allow you to become more robust, self-reliant and less stressed. When you discover the power of relying on yourself, as opposed to gripping tightly to your employer, the feeling of liberation embodies you.

I leave one final thought to reinforce the idea that it is impractical to depend on your employer. If you lose everything tomorrow, including your job, your money, your house … what will you do? I guarantee, you will turn to your brain for answers. 

Thin about how could your life be improved if you genuinely believed, “I don’t have to depend on my employer because I depend on my brain.”

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!