Imagine that you are a CEO of a large concern, a business that for the most part is successful and, like most businesses, has its share of problems and issues to solve. Sweet, right? A power position, one that has leadership traits, a position where you can control much about your working environment. But, despite all of those great job attributes, you are feeling a bit blue about the work. Getting apprehensive about the competition out there infringing on your business.
So you go and start looking for a little career advice. Advice on how to deal with a CEO job situation where you are not exactly feeling it about the work. You search out career sites, check out those leadership blogs, and discover something very common and uniform in the advice: You are the CEO. Get your strategy figured out. Start executing your strategy. Do it now. You are god (very few goddesses out there, right?). So start acting like a CEO and deal.
Now imagine that you are working in a cubicle, not yet at the envious Cubicle Warrior level, but working long and hard in a cubicle. You run your part of the world and have your own issues to solve. But, despite all the attributes of your job, you are feeling a bit blue about the work. Getting apprehensive about the competition for your work infringing on your job.
So you go and start looking for a little career advice. Advice on how to deal with a cubicle job situation where you are not exactly feeling it about the work. You search out career sites, check out those leadership blogs, and discover something very common and uniform in the advice: You work in a cubicle. You have limited ability to control your work environment. You are lucky to have a job. No job is perfect, so be thankful for the work. So start acting like a humble servant of the corporation, put up with whatever, and deal.
Here’s my question: Why don’t you get the same advice as the CEO? Outside of the incredible money a CEO makes, why is your situation any different from a CEO’s? You both don’t like your job. You both search for advice. And you get different answers for what to do about it.
And before you casually dismiss the question — CEO’s are CEO’s after all, so don’t you get it, Scot? — think seriously about the assumptions behind the advice.
Not true. Ultimately, of course, you can quit or find a different job. While on the job, you can ask for more work that fits your strengths and not your weaknesses. You can volunteer for projects that fit your strengths better and not your weaknesses. You can build relationships in the company that help you find different jobs inside the company and you can have a business network with others outside your company to help find openings there. Or who can help you get out of the funk you are in.
The correct answer: only if you let corporations control you. When you hit Desperation Lane, companies can get away with murder because you have taken all of your job choices away. Big recessions do that, you know. And if you haven’t set your life up to position yourself correctly when bad times happen, you abdicate choice to the company. But, you don’t have to do that if you prepare right.
Companies, of course, say they have a business strategy. You can have a career strategy as well — you go for employment security and not job security. Most of us, though, don’t think through what it takes to get to employment security, nor are we disciplined enough to carry out the strategy. Most of us don’t even know what employment security is — which is why if you sign up for my e-mail newsletter, you get a pretty long explanation of exactly what makes employment security.
All of that to say you have a career strategy — if only you’ll think it through and go execute the strategy.
Here’s what really bothers me, though, about the “be grateful you have a job” crowd: Their advice assumes that a corporation controls you and your work. And even if you don’t particularly like that, it’s too bad, that’s the way of the world. So deal.
Not me. I won’t drink that Kool-Aid (with apologies to my friends outside of the US who may not know that analogy). I may not make all the right moves. I may screw up strategy — just like any other CEO of a business.
But my belief is that I’m in charge of my work, my career, and my career happiness despite some very difficult times out there.
I take the advice given to CEO’s. Not what passes as advice to a person who works in a cubicle. That’s why I’m a Cubicle Warrior.
Care to join me?