Tag Archives: working

work shoes

The Story In A Workingman’s Shoes.

By Chris Warren.

I went out yesterday and bought a new pair of work shoes. I know it’s not exactly a profound life event, but when I looked at my old shoes it struck me that every beat up, worn out pair has a story to tell about a Workingman.

Most people have several pairs of shoes for everyday use, but the Workingman, a guy who doesn’t wear a fine suit, usually has only one pair. Those old shoes carried me through every moment of my career for several years. I wear them more than any other single article of clothing I own.

The photo above shows two pairs of my work shoes. Both are the exact same make, model, and size. One pair is three years old and well past the end of its useful life; the other is brand new, never worn. When compared side by side, it’s a bit startling to see what three years of honest hard work will do to a pair of shoes.

Those shoes were a silent witness to many great things that happened to me, and a few not so great things. They were there when the boss dressed me down over a mistake I made; they were also there when the same boss gave me a fat bonus and told me what a great employee I was. They’ve been to funerals and retirement parties. They’ve shoveled snow and walked through 100 degree heat.

Every scuff and crack and stain and scrape on those old shoes has a story behind it. Of course, I don’t remember the details of how and when every blemish occurred, but collectively they are the testimony of a guy who clearly does not spend much time sitting around.

Workingmen are not a complicated lot, which, by the way, should not be interpreted as being uneducated or simple-minded. Their skills are technical and complex and can take years, even decades, to master. The Workingman’s job requires advanced math and analytical abilities; many of the people in work shoes and hard hats hold college degrees and/or have completed vocational training that essentially equals or exceeds a college degree. They show up every day with lunchbox in hand and a can-do spirit in their heart and do what is needed to keep our modern world seamlessly running.

Building buildings, lighting up the cities, keeping cellphones on line, toilets flushing, and trucks and trains and airplanes moving are all part of the countless behind the scenes labors that no one sees but everyone would definitely notice if they did not get done correctly and on time. These are not skills any unmotivated dropout can learn. Workingmen are diverse in their advanced expertise but they have one thing in common: Their shoes do not stay pristine and new for very long.

I don’t know why, but there is something about getting a new pair of work shoes that boosts my mood. For that first few days, before they are fully broken in and start showing obvious signs of wear, I put my work shoes on in the morning and leave the house feeling like it’s going to be a good day. Like a blank sheet of paper they too will collect the story of my daily life and someday will be worn and spent.

That is where the Workingman is different from his shoes: The Workingman is never spent. He may return home tired at the end of each shift and dream of a well earned retirement, but the next morning he will put on the same pair of shoes and go out and make the world happen…again. During the course of his day his shoes will collect a few more scrapes and scuffs, each of which is a testimony to honest hard work. Show me a beat up old pair of work shoes, and I’ll show you a dignified Workingman who never failed to carry the pride of his skill and labor upon them.

social media

Calling Out The Social Media Prima Donnas.

By: Chris Warren.

I’m somewhat proud of how rarely I appear on my personal social media pages, and in weak moments when I scroll through my feed and see what everyone else is prattling about, I’m reminded of why I’m rarely on social media.

Those in my circle who must announce to the world their every ache and illness, every visit to the doctor, and the subsequent results of the visit, are annoying but tolerable. I have offline personal relationships with most of these people, so I just roll my eyes and give them a pass.

And the person who posts more selfies than a thirteen year old girl might be cute if they actually were a thirteen year old girl. But they are, in fact, an unattractive middle aged man who is fairly easy to dismiss as a creepy, narcissistic, pathetic attention whore with more vanity than a Hollywood champaign party. Luckily, I’m not friends with him in real life. I’m not even sure why I’m “friends” with him on line. Maybe I’ll explore that in a future Twenty First Summer article.

social media prima donna


Another breed of social media bottom feeder that has been popping up more and more and needs to be added to my list of things to deride is the social media prima donna.

A social media prima donna is someone who, not always but usually by the nature of their employment, think they are worthy of an elevated status or deserve special recognition for their sacrifices, both real and perceived.

The professions that fit the profile are diverse; teachers and public sector employees are the most common in my sphere. One piece of electronic flotsam that recently drifted my way reminded me how teachers selflessly help students and grade papers off the clock. It continued: Teachers put up with so many headaches and hassles and boo hoo! they want the whole damn world to know how awesome they are for it. Honestly, they are pretty awesome for it. But that’s not the point..

Here’s my problem with this whinefest: Accountants, IT administrators, engineers, utility workers, auto mechanics, insurance agents, office managers, secretaries, veterinarians, flight attendants, and tons of other people also make unrequited sacrifices out of duty to their vocations, and they also put up with a lot of headaches and hassles. But I don’t see any of them fishing for sycophants on Facebook.

The internet princesses want everyone to genuflect and offer perpetual accolades because they teach our kids or drive a truck or do whatever it is they do that makes them think they warrant more square inches of platitudes on my screen than anyone else.

To be clear, I’m not saying that what these people do is unremarkable or not worthwhile, or that they don’t merit respect. What I am saying is that they are not better or more deserving than anyone else. “The whole world would suck without me!” crybaby act is a tiresome trope even if the basic premise of the statement is true.

These jobs are and the people who do them are indeed very important. But so are carpet cleaners and bar tenders and cashiers and pizza delivery guys and every other occupation that does not lend itself well to compulsory hero worship by others. It’s not easy to find a social media meme extolling the virtues of being a plumber, yet we are never more than one toilet flush away from finding out how big of a deal plumbers are.

This issue is much more than sappy social media memes. More disturbingly, it is the growing attitude of entitlement, amplified by the internet, that induces people to believe that they are owed an elevated status. Every “like,” every “share,” feeds the pig of superiority.

For reasons even the social media prima donnas themselves might not understand, the simple, silent dignity of leaving work every day knowing they busted their asses and did something meaningful is not enough. Social media prima donnas can’t feel whole until  they’ve announced to the entire internet how much they sacrifice for us ingrates.

I’m not taking the bait. I don’t owe teachers and other public employees any more respect than I owe cab drivers and call center service reps. Everyone is valuable and needed and worthwhile. Get over yourselves. You know who you are, and regrettably, so do the rest of us.

If I’m Always So Busy, Why Doesn’t Anything Get Done?

By: Chris Warren.

It was one of those days at work when the morning starts off with not much going on, then soon after lunch the floodgates open. Yeah, go figure: An hour and a half to quitting time on a Friday and suddenly everybody wants something. It all would not be so bad if I actually cleared my to-do list. It seems the more busy I am, the less I get done.

The weird phenomenon follows me home. My house is never as clean as I want it to be. The laundry is never totally off the floor. I have a truck that needs four new shock absorbers and yard that needs tending. It’s not that I’m lazy; I spend plenty of time on household chores and no one who knows me will say under oath that I’m a couch potato. I’m always busy yet never ahead.

One of my friends points out, correctly, that I’ll drop what I’m doing to go fix a neighbor’s furnace or fix a flat tire on their car, but the exterior light I’ve been needing on the back stretch of my own property has been wishful thinking for months now. I’m easily distracted. Jumping from task to task without finishing any of them is just activity without productivity. Being busy and getting things done are not the same thing.

I get no traction cause I’m running on ice
It’s taking me twice as long
I get a bad reaction cause I’m running on ice
Where did my life go wrong?

-Billy Joel, Running On Ice

What am I whining about? Everyone is busy these days. I’m not so much complaining as expressing amazement that all the things that make life easier and less busy seem to be working against us. For example, the iPhone that is supposed to be my productivity savior is a constant distraction. Texts, emails, news updates, all day and all night. I’m sure I’m not the only guy in the world who peeks at emails while standing in the checkout line at the store, as if whatever is in my mailbox is so mortally important that it absolutely positively must have my undivided attention at that very instant.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit that all this busy is largely of my own making. It’s not because of fast internet connections that I can’t stay on task, nor is there any compelling reason why I need to check emails while waiting in line. I’m not that important. Really, I’m not. Whatever it is, it can wait. Yet I have trouble letting it wait. I’ve been sucked into the vortex of connectivity. In other words, staying in touch just because I can.

Even without the distractions that come with being hooked into the “world’s largest, fastest, most reliable network,” I would still be a busy airheaded mess. No, I can’t blame my iPhone for the laundry not being done. I could plausibly pin it on the time I spend running two blogs. Writing takes several hours per week that could be spent putting up that light I was talking about. Or cleaning the garage. Or something.

I get a lot of personal fulfillment from working on my blogs, and the benefits writing has on my mental health cannot be quantified. I also find it very easy to dabble for hours in one of my many other hobbies. There is more to life than a completely laundry-free bedroom floor, while at the same time I know that sooner or later, the laundry’s gotta get done.

The same friend who won’t let me forget about the yet-unrealized outdoor light also compliments me on how in order my life is for being as busy as I am. I think he’s being sincere, but right now I don’t have time to mull it over. I have to go crawl under my truck and deal with those shock absorbers, that is, assuming I don’t get kicked off course between here and the driveway.

work life 2

Work Life Reality Check.

By: Chris Warren

I recently went through a short period at my job where my schedule was juggled and I got stuck working undesirable hours. It was a temporary arrangement and I fought hard to get out of it, but with summer vacations and a coworker on disability, the scheduling holes needed to be filled. It sucked; yet as much as I don’t like having my work life messed with, I came out the other side a better person.

I am a communications electronics technician. We don’t turn the cell towers and the TV and the internet off at 5:00 every afternoon and leave. If you are getting service on your cellphone, or watching the Insomniac Channel, or shopping on Amazon in the middle of the night, that’s not magic. It means real people like me are out there working hard to make it happen. Every moment of every day. We never close.

As I pushed through the first of my series of odd shifts I resented the idea that I was there while everyone else is sleeping in. After a while, I became more tempered and introspective. “There are a lot of other people working crappier hours for a lot less than what you earn,” I thought. “Don’t be a whiney crybaby. You’re not better or more deserving than anyone else.” The work life reality check was well timed.

work life

My employer’s clients demand that we be there for them around the clock. Reading into this a little further, I like to shop and eat out on weekends and holidays, and late at night, much the same as anyone. When I’m wandering through Target at 8:00 on a Sunday night, I am supporting the very thing that I resent being done to me. If it were not for people like me, the Target employees would be at home resting. They are there because that’s what their clients want.

Not too long ago the world did not turn so fast and consumer demands were more modest. Every business was closed on Sunday except the pharmacy and the grocery stores, which were open until 1:00pm to catch the after church crowd. When the supermarket “expanded” its hours to 6:00pm, it was a big deal. Even gas was hard to get on Sunday. Since that halcyon era it’s become an expectation to be able to get anything, any time.

As I rolled home from work late Sunday I drove past the shopping malls and fast food places and movie theaters, all of which had full parking lots. On any other occasion I would probably stop and pick up a few things and not think much about how my shopping habits effect the work life of others. But on that particular night I didn’t want to be complicit in creating a reason for all these places to be open. I know I’m a hypocrite. I freely confess I am a perpetrator of the we-never-close business concept as much as I am a victim of it.

My future work life will probably include more undesirable schedule changes. There is a certain humbling effect in that it gives me more respect for those who work odd shifts as a matter of routine and get paid much less than myself. I’ve gone far in my profession, and in the hierarchy of my workplace I’m near the top. Occasionally pulling the junk shifts no one wants keeps me from getting too full of myself…and that can only result in a better work life when I’m on the clock, and a better, more grateful me the rest of the time.



A Master’s Long Journey On A Trail Of Failure.

By: Chris Warren.

If failure builds skill, then I should be an expert at a ton of stuff. The problem with this theory is that failure doesn’t by default make someone better. You have to want to be better, evaluate your shortcomings, and find a way to do it differently next time. Then go and actually do it. Failure is an effective teacher only when the student doesn’t stop trying.

Regular readers of my blog know that I am an very devoted amateur radio hobbyist and work professionally in the communications electronics field. I’ve spent this summer doing a lot of upgrades to my equipment and more than once I’ve been made painfully aware that for all the skill and expertise I’ve collected over many years of working on electronics as both a hobbyist and a professional, there is always something new tripping me up. Even more humbling is when I make mistakes performing easy tasks that I’ve successfully done before with barely a thought but at the moment cannot seem to grasp.

Someone who is admired and respected for their skill in a particular area make it look so easy, yet behind every flawless performance lies thousands of mistakes no one ever sees. Olympic athletes spend years falling down, missing the shot, not making their time, pushing through injury and illness. They take it all in and do better next time, until “next time” is the one single now-or-never Olympic event that is the denouement of their life’s effort.

On a far less Olympian but equally meaningful plane, there are everyday folks working as carpenters, auto mechanics, electricians, musicians, and teachers who are experts in their field and work largely unnoticed. After all, they don’t give gold medals for being the best accountant. The work may not be glamorous but it is important; the world runs better because these people did not quit the first time they failed at what they are now masters of.


Every now and then I am invited to give a public talk about the technical aspects of solar energy and how it can be applied to everyday life. I always bring along some of my equipment for a live demonstration of how it all works. My solar power station attracts a lot of interest and many flattering compliments. The system is a point of pride for me because I designed and built everything myself from the ground up. I want all my electronic projects to say, “the person who made this is a highly skilled craftsman who cares about his work”.  A master does not brag about how good he is. He lets his results speak for him.

What the audience does not see behind me is is the decades-long trail of failure littered with burned out components, incorrectly wired circuits, blown fuses, ruined electrical connectors, a discharged fire extinguisher used on one of my alleged brilliant ideas, and spending hundreds of evenings and weekends in a college engineering lab doing it over and over and over until I had it right. I’m no genius. Usually I was the last to leave the lab because I was the slowest to figure it out. But I did figure it out.

For those who are driven to be accomplished at something, failure to keep trying is worse than failure at the task itself. Nobody wins all of the time. Show me someone who claims to have never been a failure and I’ll show you someone who has also never succeeded, or is a liar. The world rightly places a high value on success and winning, yet there is little talk of all the failure and pain and sacrifice that is the unavoidable price of being a master.

We live in a society that wants reward without risk, recognition without sacrifice, and no hurt feelings. The reality of life is indifferent to what society wants, or perceives as success, or how artificially low the bar is set to create as many winners as possible: Everyone knows which kids showed up early for practice every time, gave it all they had, and really earned the trophy, and which kids just can’t cut it and are being pandered to for the sake of appearances. Whether it’s winning an Olympic gold medal, beautifully playing a musical instrument, or expertly troubleshooting a complex electronic circuit, the hand of the master is guided by wisdom gained from the humiliation of uncountable failure.


Set Yourself Up For Tomorrow, Today.

By: Chris Warren.

I consider myself an average person with average problems. Some days are great, most are good, and thankfully only a few are miserable. No matter what goes down in my fairly busy life, there is always one constant: Tomorrow will be another chance to try again.

Everyone has had a bad day but no one has ever had a bad tomorrow. And that is the beauty of a new day. Much pithy wisdom has been produced about tomorrow. In truth, it’s a complete unknown and nobody really knows what it will be filled with. When I wake up in the morning, all I know for sure is I’m not dead. Everything after that is an upgrade. When tomorrow becomes now, I owe it to myself and everyone around me to make the best of it.

When I wake up in the morning, all I know for sure is I’m not dead. Everything after that is an upgrade.

Years ago my parents had a neighbor who had a very well paying job, a nice house, and a circle of good natured friends. He was affable and got along with everyone. Then he abruptly quit his job and started avoiding people. He spent most of his days sitting alone in his yard smoking and drinking beer. He neglected his property. His friends stopped coming around. He would do passive-aggressive things to irritate the neighbors such as leave the radio playing loudly out an open window while he was gone all afternoon; this behavior escalated to the point that the police got involved. What was this dude’s problem? Alcoholism? Mental illness? Just stopped giving a damn? He sold his house and was last seen leaving town in a junky old truck pulling a small travel trailer. I’m guessing whatever he’s doing now, assuming he’s even still alive, involves a lot of beer and cigarettes.

I never woke up in a worse mood than when I went to bed the night before. Part of the appeal of tomorrow is that you have to sleep a little before you get there, and the physiological effect of rest goes a long way in recalibrating our psyches. Setting yourself up for a positive day means deciding that the hours that lay before you are a choice. It’s true that we usually don’t have complete control over what we do with those hours, but we do have control over how to react to them.

Attitudes are a lot easier to control than situations. If you decide now that tomorrow will suck, then there is a 100% chance that it will. At some point my parents’ neighbor decided that it was easier to accept a mediocre today than put any effort into a better tomorrow. I believe he was neither mentally ill nor an alcoholic. There was nothing deep going on with this guy. He just was a bitter, pissed off, lazy old man who gave up on his tomorrow.

My best and closest friend has spent the last two years trying to get out of a demoralizing, low-paying job in a cable TV company call center: Applying for dozens of other positions, going on interviews, and chasing leads. All of it turned out to be dead ends. We talk at least a few times a week and during this whole time never once did I sense he was feeling sorry for himself or letting go of his confidence that there was something else out there, maybe tomorrow. Finally, he got a job offer that was better than expected! He starts next week. He never gave up on his tomorrow.

Every night before lights out, I pause for a moment and contemplate the previous day. What did I do right? What do I regret? What can I carry forward to make tomorrow better, and what bad habits need to go? What must I do to avoid becoming that bitter, pissed off, lazy old man? In the morning the cycle begins anew: When the future becomes now, the attitude we have in the reality of today will determine how we handle…tomorrow.

We Need To Be More QRP.

By Chris Warren.

Have you ever been at a party where one obnoxious loudmouth imposes himself on everyone and monopolizes the whole event, and the next day you can recall almost nothing he said? Meanwhile at the same party, there is also the composed and articulate man or woman who does not prattle constantly and is not heard across the room, yet always seems to have an attentive group around them? Those lucky enough to be in this person’s company will remember the experience in great detail, sometimes years later. That quiet, well-spoken party guest knows interpersonal communications. They know how to QRP.

Everyone, including those who never of heard the term QRP prior to reading this article, would benefit from applying its spirit to their own interpersonal communication. In the highly technical hobby of amateur radio (ham radio), there is a subspecialty known as QRP operating, which is radio geek lingo for worldwide communications with very low transmitter power levels. “Low power” is generally understood to be less than 10 watts (less than a laptop computer). By comparison, most amateur radio sets run at 100 watts. Some can go to over a thousand watts, and commercial radio stations average between 5000-50,000 watts. When properly done, these tiny low level signals can compete with the thousand watt-plus boomers.

The philosophy of QRP radio states that what one lacks in brute force can more than be made up for with careful timing and the adroit use of the limited resources at hand. In a non-radio scenario that could mean waiting for the loud mouth to pause and then dropping a well thought out comment. You won’t get to say as much, but your comments will be noticed without your having to yell. It’s better to speak quietly for a minute and have it remembered than to shout for an hour and have no one care.

Walk through the busy downtown of any large city and you will eventually come across a street preacher. They stand on a corner and in a very loud voice attempt to sell their religion. I’m pretty sure none of these guys have ever scored a single convert among the thousands of passers by. The preachers may have good intentions and bring a lively vibe to the street, but the low yield of new followers exposes their lack of finesse. Meanwhile, the missionary who lives like an ordinary man among his flock, shows them what a good neighbor is, socializes with and befriends them, and relates to them one on one or in small groups will collect a bounty of believers. I know a guy who actually does this. He speaks and acts like a normal person, never dominating or raising his voice. You’ll never see him yelling on a street corner. Everyone around him, even those who don’t subscribe to his faith, respects him and pays attention to his words. He knows interpersonal communications. He knows how to QRP.interpersonal communication

I once worked with a guy who was something of a hothead. One day in a moment of poor judgement, he aggressively approached the boss and made a loud scene in front of everyone about something trivial. The boss just stood there and let him carry on and on with his rant. When he finally sputtered out, the boss calmly replied in a completely normal voice, “I refuse to deal with you when you’re mad and out of control. When you decide to calm down, come see me in my office.” She then turned around and walked away. They did ultimately resolve the issue in a way that was satisfactory to both sides. She had a command of interpersonal communication. The boss knew how to QRP.

Both in radio and in life there appropriate moments to be powerful and loud. QRP is not suitable at all times. Unfortunately, a lot of people can’t discern the difference. They do not throttle down their loud mouths even when doing so would improve interpersonal communication. The quiet little voices are signals of wisdom and self control in a world of overbearing noise and disorder.

The Cop, The Pastor, And The Working Man.

By: Chris Warren.

Last weekend at a family gathering, I had a very nice talk with an uncle I haven’t seen in a while. After serving in the US Army he began his career as a Chicago police officer and ultimately became a police chaplain. He retired many years ago but never really stopped working. Well into his 70s, he spends most of his days as civilian hospital chaplain. The reasons he gave as to why were surprising, and we comparative youngsters would benefit from (here comes the pun) the arresting wisdom of the way he’s lived his life.

To hear uncle Rex explain it, he does not while his days playing golf or gardening or collecting things. He has no hobbies and most of his leisure time is spent with his wife (my aunt) and their grandchildren. My uncle put on his uniform and reported for duty every day without fail, and the odd hours cops often work never left much time for diversions. When he retired from the police force, the idea of doing things that didn’t need to be done, or doing something solely for enjoyment, was an anomaly to him. He liked working and did not know anything else; why not just keep at it?

He was always very religious and involved with the church, so moving into ministry was not a big jump for him. Uncle Rex is the guy who always leads the family in prayers at celebrations, baptisms, holidays, weddings, funerals. He is the guy who always calls or visits when someone is sick. He is more than anyone else the unofficial family pastor.

Uncle Rex has ministered to police officers, fire fighters, crime victims, accident victims, the terminally ill, medical staff, junkies, drunks, criminals, the rich, the homeless, hookers, anyone and everyone who crossed his path seeking solace in God. Most of these people just had something devastating happen to them or someone they love. He gravitated towards the church not only because of his faith, but also because a sense of duty that strong cannot be contained behind a patrolman’s  badge.working cop badge

I’m glad my uncle found fulfillment in his retirement, although technically it’s not “retirement” if it means still going to a job every day. Very few people would deliberately choose the same path. He’s one of the lucky ones who doesn’t need the money. Everyone else I know still working past retirement age does it because they have to. Due to the bad economy, bad personal decisions, bad luck, whatever, the trend is going to escalate. I have friends & family who are at a point in their careers where it’s mathematically impossible for them to retire on time unless they win the lottery or score a six-figure raise.

Retiring for real is an option fewer and fewer people have anymore. It can be seen in our everyday routines: Next time you’re out, notice how a disproportionate number of fast food and retail employees look like they should be at home entertaining grandchildren. Unfortunately, there isn’t any light at the end of the tunnel for those still trapped working into their sixties and beyond. To again bring up the absolute truth of arithmetic, anyone who has not built up a meaningful nest egg by age 55-60 will either never truly retire or retire to a poor standard of living.

To uncle Rex, working is an identity, a statement, and a belief all rolled into one. In his world a job is greater than the sum of its parts and isn’t only about money. If all that mattered was the number of zeroes on a paycheck, uncle Rex would have never become a cop, or a chaplain. This man of faith, duty, and honor has already put in his time and has nothing left to prove, yet he is still out there working for what he knows in his heart is good and right. The way the world is going, he may have to start tending to the spiritual needs of hopeless senior citizens for whom working is a practical necessity that defers their well deserved rest from a lifetime of a job well done.

Business Advice From A Real World Grunt.

By: Chris Warren.

Every year around this time the internet starts buzzing with business advice for job applicants, presumably in response to the annual release of college graduates who now need to turn their degrees into paychecks. Largely out of the mix is wisdom on how to thrive and get along after you are in the workforce.

I think I’ve learned a thing or two in all my years happily plugging away at the same company. I’ve had more bosses than I can remember; some of them were pretty classy, some of them were tasteless jerks. I managed to have a good working relationship with all of them even if I may not have liked them personally (or vice-versa) or agreed with their management decisions. I’ve reduced my success down to a few simple workplace behaviors that you won’t find suggested anywhere in the glut of internet wisdom.

Don’t make the boss’ phone ring. In the over twenty years I’ve been on the job, my boss has received a random call from someone  saying I’m awesome on maybe two or three occasions. But if I screw up there is a nearly 100% chance somebody will squawk loudly about it.  The average supervisor takes dozens of calls every day from people with problems. You do not want to be the reason for any of them. When someone calls your boss to talk about you, it’s almost never to give compliment.

Always give a response. If your boss or a coworker walked up to you in person and asked you a question, you would not silently turn around and walk away, then come back and answer the question a day later. Treat emails/texts/voice mails as a personal interaction. In a era where there are fewer face to face conversations in the workplace, it’s sometimes not clear when or if a message was received. Immediately acknowledge receipt of electronic communications, then commit to keeping all involved parties updated until the issue is concluded. Do not make the boss, or anyone, have to guess what’s going on to the point that they make your phone ring.

When someone calls your boss to talk about you, it’s almost never to give compliment.

Be a Yes Man/Woman. The best thing about this behavior is that it can be incorporated into any of the others. It’s about always finding a way to say yes to all requests. To be clear, I’m not talking about being a doormat or a “management suck up.” Being a Yes person means your default should be to find a way to make things happen, not to squirm out of it. Send everyone away better than they arrived, even if the Yes you give them isn’t exactly the one they wanted: “I’m sorry, I don’t have the information you need but I forwarded your request to another department that I’m sure can help you.” A compromised Yes is always better than a no.

Hand out bonuses. Doing the minimum required is fine and will keep you out of trouble, but no one ever got a promotion or raise by doing the minimum. Bonuses do not need to be big, huge deals. It can be as simple as completing an assignment before being asked or taking extra steps that were not part of the original assignment: “I ordered the toner cartridges you wanted and noticed that we were low on paper too, so I included it with the request.” Bonuses are pleasant surprises and show others that you care and have attention to detail. When done properly, they are a big payoff for little effort.

Do not take advantage of others’ ignorance. I work as an electronics technician on communications equipment. The job requires specialized high level skills and few people outside my field fully understand what I do. It would be easy to get out of difficult tasks by making up technical reasons why they can’t be done, and most people would not initially know I’m hustling them. I don’t use my knowledge as leverage to avoid undesirable assignments because it’s dishonest and wrong. All lies, including small ones, ultimately return to their origins. Taking advantage of others on any level has no lasting benefit and in extreme cases can end careers. Never, ever do it.

It’s easy to overlook that getting the job is only a small part of a much bigger picture. Giving one’s best effort long enough to get through the hiring process is not hard compared to developing attitudes and behaviors that will need to be strong for an entire working career. There is nothing deep or complicated about the Golden Rule of treating others as you would want to be treated yourself.

Career Objective: Make It To Retirement With A Smile On My Face.

By: Chris Warren

I consider myself  to be among the lucky few who has a cool job that is engaging and interesting. A large majority of the time I like what I do, with occasional screw this! moments sprinkled in to remind me that it may be cool but it’s hardly paradise. I think I must have won some cosmic occupational lottery because for my whole life I’ve always seemed to land in nifty jobs as if by accident. Even through high school and college I managed to earn a buck without getting involved with the drudgery of fast food or retail.

51NKZtwI2FL._SY445_Now I’m in that strange zone where I’m certainly not a kid but also not nearly old enough to seriously consider retiring. I’m left wondering what’s next. Or if there even is a “next.”  I would not mind doing something else, but since I’m content where I am I see no point in changing just for the sake of change. I’ve asked the self-analyzing question: If I looked into a crystal ball and saw myself retiring from the job I’m doing now, would the vision be depressing or comforting? Am I ok with this for the rest of my career?

The short answer is yes, I’m ok with it. I still wonder though, is there anything better out there? Is this as good as it gets? I’ve decided not to beat the hell out of myself trying to resolve a question of circular logic. In theory, there is always something better, somewhere. It’s more worthwhile to focus on what’s right and positive about the job I already have.

It’s important to explain that being happy with where I am and being complacent and unmotivated to move forward are not the same thing. There was a period in my distant past where I was in a job that was respectable but well beneath my potential. I stayed there way too long, bullshitting myself that it was good enough. I managed to get out of that trap relatively unharmed and took a lesson with me: Be grateful for what you have but don’t ever assume it’s the end of the line.

Being surrounded by family and friends who are in jobs that are soulless and devoid of any feeling of a higher purpose, on top of paying barely enough to make it worth showing up every day, gives contrast to my own life and blunts the effects of my screw this! days. The workplace headaches I deal with are mild by comparison, and at least at the end of it all I receive a decent paycheck for my hassles. There may be something better, somewhere, but there is also something worse. Being far from the bottom is more important than being close to the top.

I used to have a coworker who was technically competent but by a very large margin had absolutely the worst attitude of anyone I’ve ever worked with. He could not go five minutes without prattling about how unfairly he was treated, had a lame excuse for everything, constantly argued with the boss, thought the whole company was plotting against him, blah, blah, blah. I spent a year trying to be his buddy: Reaching out, having man-to-man talks, pushing him towards a better path. It was a complete waste of my effort. He was officially fired for absenteeism, but the real deal was that management and pretty much everyone else, including me, was far beyond fed up with the pouting crybaby. Your approach to your job has more influence over your career path than everything else combined. Skills can be learned but attitude can only come from within.

No one should allow their career success to be defined solely by how many promotions and raises they can collect before they retire. It’s more meaningful and less stressful to show up every morning believing that every day is a good day, but some days will not be as good as others. I am, on the whole, a happy employee. I flatly refuse to let myself become the guy who bitches about everything. When I reach a point where I don’t feel I can go any further in the job I have, the time to move on will become self-evident.