My usual attempt is to write positive posts. However, over the last two years, one of the things that has stumped me in my coaching sessions is how the Coachee is surprised and depressed and freezes when something shitty happens in his – her career. I gently remind them that The Law of Averages is one of the most universal truths. The location and environment and decade may change, but human behaviour never changes. Shit happens. Unerringly and regularly. Thats Nature’s Grand Design at work.
Being aware of the crappy stuff that can happen will help us take it in our stride and take better action to handle it and move on with calmness and focus and minimal stress. As the cliche goes, its not what happens that defines us. Its how we react to what happens that makes us who we are.
It does not matter what your age, gender, designation, job description, function, contacts, professional qualification or level of saintliness or crookedness or devilishness are. It also doesnt matter whether your attitude and drive is that of a hyper achiever who will be CEO at 40 or you are a whiny and low energy corporate trundler who will retire as a Deputy Assistant General Manager at 60. Regardless of who you are, ALL of the following shitty things will probably happen at least once over the course of your 35 year career.
- The economy will go through a recession and your company WILL lay off people.
- You WILL get passed over a few times for a promotion.
- You WILL work with a boss who, in your considered opinion, is a certifiable jerk or bitch.
- Someobody who is obviously less competent than you will grow MUCH FASTER than you.
- One of your role models will turn out to be a FRAUD.
- You will be BETRAYED by at least 3 people of the opposite gender (and NOT in a romantic sense) simply because Mars will be Mars and Venus will be Venus.
- Everyone you know well professionally will do at least one thing that conclusively proves their CORRUPTION at an intellectual, financial or moral level.
- You will get a boss who can’t STAND you.
- At least 3 people you know well will get into big trouble due to ALCOHOL related behaviour.
- You will get a team member who HATES you.
- You will be treated DISRESPECTFULLY by a person you respect.
- A person in your chain of command who you expected would bat for you will turn out to have FEET OF CLAY.
- There will be at least one unfair, untrue and vicious RUMOUR about you that everyone will accept as fact.
- You will go through a two year period when everything that can go WRONG for you does go wrong for you.
- Your company will get taken over or merged or re-organised and your job will change dramatically or you will LOSE your job.
- At least ten people you know and respect will LOSE their jobs.
- At least three people at work you like or adore will DIE young.
- You will do at least one, maybe two or three, INCREDIBLY STUPID things that you will regret for the rest of your life.
- Someone you admire a lot professionally will BAD MOUTH you.
- You will hire someone you believe in for a crucial job but that person will turn out to be a DUD.
- You will have favourites at work and this will BOOMERANG on you in some manner.
- You will despair for incredibly professional female colleagues who are thrice as competent as you are and who deserve CEO-ship or better. BUT they do not get their due recognition and growth because of the GLASS CEILING and or male chauvinism at work and or the personal choices they make. And you will curse the hypocrisy of a system that makes all the right noises about diversity but invariably, the actions are shallow.
I could go on and add maybe ten more. Chances are that you will relate to least 5 of these if you are in your late 20s and probably 15 of these if you are in your late 30s. And if you are in your late 40s, then congratulations, you old foggy – you have the objective data points and examples and are now eligible to write posts about shitty things that can happen in a career ;-).
The idea is not to be a cynic but to be a realist. I repeat, Shit happens. Fortunately, if we are aware of what could potentially happen, then our effectiveness in accepting and handling it going forward would improve.
After all, the golden rule of life is BALANCE. Its about being positive and hoping – attracting – working for the best AND at the same time, being a realist and expecting – having a Plan B for the worst (take that, Rhonda Byrne !).
And just for the record, many wonderful things will happen in the course of your 35 year career as often as shitty things do. And that shall be the subject for another post on another day.
Also published on Medium.