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Saturday, March 01, 2014
Volume 19 | # 451
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I believe that I have won the greatest lottery of all time. I am alive. I walk the Earth. I live in America. Above all things, I am grateful. » Item 1 of "The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge" (Mike Rowe)

Working to Get Ahead

I was sitting in a hotel room this week with the TV muted, working on a presentation. I quickly unmuted it when I saw Mike Rowe being interviewed.

While I had been a fan of his former show, “Dirty Jobs”, I’ve become an even bigger fan of his new project entitled “Mike Rowe Works.”

I’ve been impressed that he has taken his message to programs hosted by folks from all political points of view: from Bill Maher to Glenn Beck to Piers Morgan to Sean Hannity.

Heck, most people running for national office don’t have the courage to do that.

The fact that his arguments tend to be persuasive to both sides suggests the message is authentic and has merit.

Rowe is on a mission these days to call attention to the skills gaps that have been created in our country.

Even in a time of persistently high unemployment and record low job-participation levels, there are millions of well-paying jobs that remain unfilled for lack of qualified applicants.

Many of these jobs are in industries that have fallen out of favor in the “Everyone must have a college degree in order to succeed era” that has been propagated for decades now. Many people (likely with degrees) have been critical of Rowe, accusing him of being anti-college.

I’d respectfully suggest that anyone who actually listens to him or reads his words would know that isn’t so.

But one of the reasons this topic struck a nerve with me is that I’ve shared with many groups over the years that the 3 most successful people I’ve ever worked for didn’t have college degrees.

One owned a business and two were bank CEO’s. They had different stories with common threads.

Take the job you’re lucky enough to get. Be good at it.

Earn your next opportunity by making the most of the one you’ve been given. Bet on yourself.

And, when finally atop the ladder, tolerate and train knuckleheads (like me) while we figure out what we’re doing. (I’m only guessing at that last one.)

I’m fond of reminding folks towards the end of presentations that our jobs are not the most important things in our lives.

But, they are the things that allow us to take care of whatever or whoever is.

The lives and careers each of us aspires to have are varied. But they do share a common trait.

We are earning them today, right where we are, by doing the jobs we have the very best that we can.

A Long and Whining Road

I recently spent time catching up with an old buddy and coworker. We retold some of our favorite road-warrior stories and laughed at occurrences and events that, frankly, weren’t all that funny at the time.

We also joked about the times experienced managers would share advice that we often ignored, because… well, we were so smart.

We then went out and made the very same mistakes we had been warned about. And yet, we were somehow surprised whenever that happened.

(Yes, real men of genius.)

But the most animated part of our discussion came when we visited the subject of whining on the job.

We readily admitted that in our careers we have often been as guilty as anyone at wasting time, mental and emotional energy with non-constructive whining. In fact, much of it was to each other.

We chose to differentiate complaining from whining. (Yes, real men of genius.)

In our minds, complaining is when you bring a concern/problem to a person who can actually do something about it.

We joked that “constructive complaining” is when you actually hope/think that a positive change can be made. And quite often that change will involve the “complainer” (you) being willing to adapt and even taking some responsibility for making that change happen.

But then there is always the risk that you’ll learn that your facts aren’t completely accurate and/or your complaint is unwarranted.

Too many folks instead choose to whine about a situation to coworkers, friends, etc. who have no ability or authority to do anything about it. This usually accomplishes little except making others irritated or depressed, as well.

Then again, maybe that’s the goal. Misery loves company, etc., etc.

A real head-scratcher are the folks who openly complain (whine) to their own customers. That’s just weapons-grade cluelessness right there.

I’m not silly enough to think that simply telling folks to “quit complaining” is any kind of strategy. And some complaints are obviously valid and warrant being (appropriately) expressed.

But we all may benefit from policing ourselves the next time we feel the need to grumble to others.

Are we more interested in fixing a problem or in fixing the blame for it on somebody?

And is it possible to fix that problem without involving anyone else or making others look bad in the process?

Yes, that actually would be genius.

I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine. » Neil Armstrong

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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