The Common Denominator in Every Lousy Job You’ve Ever Had

It’s Monday. The weekend is over; time to drag ourselves back to work.

Or maybe not. A growing number of us get up full of energy on Monday morning, looking forward to whatever the week might bring and burning to get back to something we think is important and worth our time.

Those are the lucky ones.

They’re also the ones who work circles around the rest of us, who are fully engaged, on task, and productive all day long, every day of the week. They come in early on Monday, leave late two or three days of the week, and seem to have a great time while they’re there–or at least seem to embrace the challenges and tackle tough problems head-on. They get promoted in strong organizations, and don’t stick around in weak ones.

You know someone like that. You may be someone like that.

Here’s the deal. They don’t work like that because they’re lucky enough to work in a job they like. They’re lucky enough to work in a job they like because they work like that. Even if their job sucks, they still work their tails off, knowing they can make something better happen soon. They’re not stuck, because they’re responsible for their own lives.

The rest of us drag ourselves into work on Monday, thinking of all the places we’d rather be. We dwell on how much our job sucks, how boring it is, how foolish our bosses are. We complain to our like-minded colleagues about the latest ridiculous corporate policies. The lucky ones, the ones planning their next move or engaged in the task at hand, dodge around us as we congregate around the coffee machine or the water cooler.

Then we get a lucky break, move to a different company–and after a while, discover our new position has the same flaws as the old. There’s no shortage, it turns out, of boring work or idiot bosses. Our sympathetic colleagues now come sit in our office to commiserate, and the lucky ones now pop their heads in to ask a quick question before ducking out again to get something done.

The setting has changed. The names and faces–all but one–have changed. But the situation has barely changed at all.

What’s the common denominator here? You’ve figured it out, I’m sure. It’s you. It’s us. More importantly, it’s the way we see our world, the way we see ourselves.

There’s no bigger factor in how we live than how we choose to see the world around us. There’s no better way to change our circumstances than to change the way we see them.

Other factors are at work, for sure. Some holes are harder to dig out of than others. Even tin handcuffs are hard to break when you don’t know quite what’s ahead.

But if we have the courage to take responsibility for our own lives, to change the way we see the world–we can change the denominator. We can change our lives.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.