Career Bankrupt?

October 18, 2008

It’s 4:32 am and I am wide awake. Why am I compelled to write to you instead of snuggling on my Sealy pillowtop? Because I want you to know you are not nuts. A lot of smart people are in the wrong job, company or industry (and bed) and they are too exhausted or heartsick to even consider making a change. Plus, it is plum crazy out there. Business writer Vince Poscente calls this,  ‘The Age of Speed’; but before the recent crash, few other than Margaret Atwood, called it like it is, the age of greed.

In an age of greed, the myth of more is so compelling that we hunger for the wrong things. Bombarded with messages that happiness is inside a Coach purse, at the wheel of a BMW  or at the bottom of an Oreo cookie bag, we end up starving for what matters yet perplexed by our emptiness.

To be in the ‘perfect job’ with a great company and be abused by a despot manager, to work 90-hours, week after month after year, because that’s just the way it is, constitutes values madness. It’s also going to give you bad brow wrinkles. We puff ourselves up and talk about ‘information management’ and ‘knowledge transfer’ but so few are wise. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone but not enough love. There is enough medicine but not enough compassion; there are a million ways to remove the newly arrived hair on my chin but not one way to make my mother happy.

People like you are despairing at work because, despite multitudes of distractions, we know in our bones the current crisis is more than economic. The 60s saw the hopeful Dawn of Aquarius but now thousands of dead fish line the Great Lakes’ shores. What’s worse is there are people who would gladly gorge on rotting carp and I’m not talking the Olsen twins. Millions live on less than a dollar a day and call a garbage dump home. Britney Spears is a mother. It is scary out there.

Back in the office, the white noise sound machine attempting to mask the din of cubicle life cannot cover the reality of war, poverty, and Brad/jelina. My sister-in-law was just diagnosed with colon cancer. Each week seems to bring news of a friend of a friend diagnosed with something. None of my outfits works with that many cause bracelets.

Maybe you wished I stayed asleep but that’s the point. People are waking up and wondering ‘Why the f…. am I working so hard for so little?’ Does it even matter? There is a new level of career turmoil because it is hard to be sane when so little makes sense. $33 billion in bonuses were paid out to the very same CEOs, in the same year, 2007, that they lost $200 billion in shareholder value, (Globe and Mail 27.10.08).

Are you feeling the craziness? A gaggle of my girlfriends are exploring the woo woo world of the healing arts and they are loving it. Most of the time I don’t even know what they are talking about. Others are staying corporate but finding or creating companies that rock as opposed to ones that stone people to death with pettiness and politics.You are not the only one wondering how to align your values with who you are, what you do and how you do it.

If you are trying to figure out what to be when you grow up, regardless of your actual age, begin with your values. founded by Martin Seligman, PhD, offers you the VIA (Values In Action) Signature Strength exercise. Once completed I recommend you review your top five to seven values. Notice to what degree they are present or absent in your work and life. If most are absent, you can, with the help of a savvy friend, or a good coach, start thinking about what roles bring those values into play. Consider starting a journal or create a life/work binder. Your first section could be your values.

Back to bed.  L


Are you or your business reaching the fullest potential?

If it is not your genius it is not your job.
Louise B. Karch