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 by Neville Garnham

It surprises both people who know me slightly and people who see me speak, when I say that I’ve never had a “job”!

From the period of my first full-time position, I decided that I would never remain with the same organisation for more than seven years. This was in a period where people were still working in the same organisation for 40 years or more.

The period of single-organisation employment certainly has reduced to shorter timeframes. In fact, I thought it was truly dead, until in the last decade I’ve found a number of instances of people who have worked for the same organisation since they left school more than 40 years previously. I’m not that kind of person! I need new challenges just like many younger people today. For better or worse, depending on your point of view, I’ve shifted organisations – and, in my view, learned a lot and experienced a lot of different people and situations.

While I’ve exceeded my 7-years period rule twice in my life, because I was enjoying what I had been doing or to help the organisation transition, I’m glad generally that I’ve remained true to that early-life decision. The “it’s time to shift” realisation always became clear to me when it was time actually to leave. In all instances, I could have stayed… the organisations wanted me to stay… sometimes begged me to stay… but, I knew implicitly that it was time to move on to other roles.

There were some really funny times also. Any especially fond memory is the time many more people than I expected come to attend by farewell function organised by others… when, with much surprise for me, I was enticed in to attend the function! Among many incredible farewell gifts there was one that I still have (after 40 years) and hold dear. One of the ingenious artists among the group took a large manila envelope from the organisation’s stationary cupboard. Drew a huge farewell shield on it and attached from its corners a lanyard made of red-tape… the genuine old red-tape of government. They presented this to me as their main farewell gift by hanging it around my neck.

In the centre of the shield was the hand-drawn picture of a goat. And, I was awarded by them their Royal Order of the Scapegoat. It was as much a symbol of protest about organisational habits of blaming those gone, for something gone wrong. It was as much their regret about losing me as I’d tried to stand up for so many of them against silly decisions and activities by senior management for so long. I was chuffed by their approach.

Of course there were ups and downs in any of my roles. But, they were always a challenge for me, rather than “a job” to be done! Every role that I’ve undertaken has always had multiple facets and, in my mind, I always found it imperative that I find a way to improve how the role was done – with more effectiveness in achieving its objectives and more efficiency in its achievement. It wasn’t always easy and there were opponents!

Research suggests that salary/wages ranks somewhere around 7/8 on a 10-point scale of why people work. I suspect that this is flawed; though the social aspects of working rank more highly in the numbers from such surveys.

Other research suggests that some 80% or so of working people “hate” their jobs. I suspect this also is flawed. They can hardly both be right!

We humans are social creatures. We might think that we’re not at times; or wish that we were not at others (as bossing people around rarely achieves longer-term objectives). But everything we do, produce or service we give is delivered to people, for people, by people!

Some of those people will be difficult. We need to accept that reality; and learn to deal with those situations that at times can be quite unpleasant. Connect with people and thereby gain influence to make a positive difference. Managers loose staff, often by their own disconnects between words and actions… their inconsistency… playing favourites… being rude and harsh… small-mindedness! Such are not leaders!

If you really “hate” your job, then you’d better discover exactly why that is the case before you look at changing it. Hating a job because of a sense of entitlement to “a better job” will rarely go far in helping you reach personal fulfilment in whatever you do. Working out why you hate that job may go some way in helping you to connect better with others around you in that workplace (who might also not love their jobs); and, it might help you to discover what you might need to learn to improve your opportunities to attain better positions in future.

Is your glass “half-empty” or “half-full” when it comes to what you do in the multiple roles you need to play?

An “half-full” positive approach is likely to get you further than the “fall in a heap ‘half-empty’ negative approach”! Which is your position?

Remember the words of W. Mitchell: “Stuff happens! It’s not what happens to you that matters. It’s what you do about it!”

Or, the advice from Dr Martin Seligman: “Whatever happens, it’s not permanent, it’s not personal, and it’s not pervasive!”

You will survive. And, if you really take action and try, you’ll accomplish remarkable things and astonish even yourself!

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