Tag Archives: Attitude

There’s always a reason for getting fired.

My son was the best checkout clerk in the store. His checkout speed was consistently the best. Customers loved his happy personality. He often had the most “add on” sales at the cash register. Then one day he was put on probation. Shortly thereafter he was fired. It was because he had decided not to double check when the cash register said that a particular coupon had no corresponding product bought by the customer. Most of the cashiers ignored the warning at least part of the time. One of the baggers had noticed it and informed the managers. They checked, asked him, and found out he was guilty. Probation was a formality. They fired him as soon as they could get it approved.

I’m proud my son accepted responsibility and never told anyone who the bagger was. When asked, he admitted what he was doing immediately. He was fired as a warning to the other checkout clerks. He didn’t have a chance to eat crow and change his ways. 

The real question is: What about the other clerks? The clerks had a chance to get upset at the baggers in general. They could moan and complain on breaks about how unfair it was. They could become paranoid and follow each rule to complete stupidity. Or they could admit their problem and humbly accept the truth, like my son did. They knew they had been costing the store money by not checking coupons. They had been breaking the rule all the time, not just when the checkout lanes were jammed. They had talked about it. They weren’t listening to the managers about it anymore when the firing occurred. It was time to eat crow. And crow is best served warm, when the offense is fresh.

How about you? What do you do when someone is fired for doing something everyone does? What about when you are passed over for a job you apply for?

If you blame another person, you are human. If you blame society, you are human. That being said, it doesn’t make YOU right.

If you got fired for poor performance, accept it. If you were the best at a particular job but got passed over for a promotion, there was a reason. Admit defeat. Find out why. Don’t brag about how smart you are and how stupid the managers are. There was a reason.

Back to job hunting. If the job is evil and horrible, drop out of the interviews or don’t apply. If you found out the manager, company or division is full of idiots because they didn’t hire you, thank God you didn’t get that job. No need to ceaselessly murmur about the idiots. However, you may want to eat crow and find out why you really were not hired. Getting the truth can be difficult. Still, the time to eat crow is when it is still warm. Ask what you did, said, or put on paper that disqualified you. Then decide if you want to fix it.

Something to do today

Ask why you didn’t get the job. Ask the recruiter. Ask the company. Ask the hiring manager. Don’t worry about offending someone. They already offended you by not hiring you, didn’t they? Ask politely, but ask.

Turning bad into good when life hits hard

Many of the happiest people I know were ruined at one point. Some depressed people were also ruined, but they stayed that way. It can be layoffs, bankruptcy, divorce, a major health problem or a terrorist act that is your personal disaster. Often it is a combination of them, a major kick in the teeth.

One friend of mine was climbing the career ladder. There was a disaster and he, his wife and kids all had to come and live in the basement of his parent’s house. He took a dock worker job at a trucking company. He had no future. He learned that dock worker job and got promoted several times in only a couple of years. Then he quit and formed a local company that expanded to several states. He still loaded trucks when he had to… as the CEO helping out. He won’t tell you he liked getting kicked in the teeth. Instead, he’ll tell you it was a turning point. It was the start of a new and exciting phase of his life. 

Ginger, Hot Lemon, Tea, Lemon, Snow, Juice, Cold

He got kicked in the teeth again and had the courts liquidate his company three years later. Now he’s back at it. He didn’t enjoy it, but he just kept moving forward.

Happy or depressed, which will it be? That depends on how long it takes you to put yourself in charge. Being in charge is the subject of the next series of articles. Positive steps you can take to prepare for or recover from disaster.

Something to do today

Talk to the 3 happiest people you know. Get them alone. Ask them if they were ever kicked in the teeth. You may have to push them to find out. Ask them about the list: layoffs, bankruptcy, divorce, health and terrorist acts. I’ll bet you are surprised at what they call, “A blessing in disguise.”

79% of people leave their jobs for THIS reason

A manager is frequently a deciding factor on whether or not you like or hate your job. A study by the Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) concluded that 79% of people who leave their jobs say that lack of appreciation is a key reason. Happiness at work is, therefore, the manager’s fault. People quit because of their managers. In the end, your managers will make or break your work experience.

The average person who changes jobs only gets a 5% raise according to another study. That is not a lot of money. Quite often the next raise would have met or exceeded that. So money is not a major factor 

Recognition, praise, rewards and awards are part of a manager’s duty. Yet many managers get so caught up in projects and budgets that they never say, “Well done!”

So, when you are looking for a job or a promotion, you know the most important thing to look for. Find a good manager.

How do you decide who is a good manager? 

Find a chance to ask people who have been working for that person how they like it. Listen carefully for hints of happiness or unhappiness. Follow through on any hints with more questions.  

Think about the managers you have liked. Haven’t they been the ones who knew how well you did, and recognized you for it?

Something to do today

List your last 4 managers. First rank them by how well they appreciated your accomplishments. Then rank them by how you liked them overall as managers. Is there something to this? What kind of a manager or team leader are you?

The skills you need to be a good employee

One of the great keys to finding a new job is being good at your old job.  

You have to be competent, cheerful, and communicative. Competent people get the job done.  When they’re assigned a project, they make sure to do it as well and as quickly as possible.  Every manager loves an employee that gets his projects done before the deadline. 

Cheerful people get the job done with a smile.  Sure, they may have to put up with a difficult project, a tight schedule, and a team member or two whom they don’t particularly like, but even all that doesn’t get them down.  Every manager loves an employee with good morale, especially if he keeps the other workers’ spirits up.

Communicative people let their boss know what’s going on while they’re getting the job done.  That doesn’t mean that they flood his desk with memos or his voicemail with messages giving him information he doesn’t need.  It means they let their supervisor know once in a while that things are going as planned… or that they honestly admit when things have gone awry and need some intervention.

I know a fellow who has been working with his current employer for almost a year. He’s certainly competent. He was given a piece of software that hasn’t been working properly in spite of seven years of development by other programmers. Pieces of that software that never worked before are now running smoothly.

My friend is also cheerful. He’s put up with a supervisor that sells products the company doesn’t have (and has managed to create several of those non-existent products to save his boss’s hide). He talked an employee out of leaving when his boss yelled at him. He does a good job of keeping office tensions low. 

My friend, however, could use some work on his communication skills. He was a college student at the time, and occasionally his schedule changes when he least expects it. That means that sometimes he’ll have a class or group meeting when he would ordinarily be at work.

What should you do in that sort of situation? Call ahead, of course, to let your boss know what has happened and try to make sure your employer isn’t left hanging because he needs you. Yes, that means that you should call in to work at 3 am and leave a message if you won’t be able to contact him in advance any other way.

A supervisor’s job is to make decisions. By calling him, you let him know what is going on so that he can make those decisions. If you don’t call, you may find yourself in trouble… and looking for another job. Finding that job will be extra difficult, because you’ll have to tell them why you left your last employment.

So, be dependable. Call ahead. Your boss may not like that you can’t make it in, but he’ll love that you let him know.

Competent, cheerful, and communicative. Important keys. That all adds up to being reliable! What a concept.

Something to do today

Make a list of the times in the last year that your schedule has changed unexpectedly and kept you from going to work as normal.  What did you do?  Were those things that helped your relationship with your boss or hurt it?

Persistence Gets Promotions

People wait in lines. We get upset when someone cuts in front. So we wait back until it is our turn. We don’t want to be greedy.

Tim was competing with three others for a promotion at EDS. He was prepared. He was a good choice. He told his boss, “I do want this promotion. It is the next step I need to take in my career. But I don’t want you to choose me for the job if the other guys should have it. I know it is important to them too. I don’t want you to feel any pressure to give it to me even though I want it.” 

Tim did NOT get the promotion.

Tim also waited a full year to get half of the bonus he was promised for putting in a lot of overtime on a project. During that year he reminded his boss twice of the bonus. Then Tim waited patiently with a smile. Tim was a nice guy. He was getting beaten up because he was afraid that being insistent that he was the correct choice was uncouth. Tim was politely waiting in line.

Let’s compare that to me. Same area at EDS, different job. I wanted to move to a special technical team. There were 4 openings. I asked my team leader and manager to help me get in. I reminded them every few days. I visited the manager who was leading the new group every other day. I brought a word of cheer or another accomplishment. He had no doubt how much I wanted the job. He got an email after every contact. I got the job with 3 years of experience. The other technicians were 5 to 20 years my senior. They were well known and earned twice what I did. I was nobody in comparison. And I know I beat out a whole bunch of other folks who had way better credentials than me.

I waited, but I was persistent while I waited. I made sure my references were checked. I offered more proof of my accomplishments. I never let the manager forget I wanted that job. Towards the end he would see me in his doorway and grin, “Bryan, I haven’t made that decision yet, but I’m going to. Don’t worry. I know you want the job.” But I kept coming for 3 weeks anyway. I wanted the job more than I wanted to be polite. I was willing to out work any of the more senior guys he could hire. This was my only way to prove it.

There were a lot of very surprised people when I got the job. They were obviously better than me. But I was persistent. I made it a big deal. I got the job. Unfortunately there was nothing left for the others waiting in line.

Something to do today

If you are job hunting or looking for a promotion, be persistent. The job seeker who offers contagious enthusiasm often gets hired over the guy with experience. For the job that is a quantum leap forward in your career, refuse to wait in line.

The right words to end an interview

I once had a candidate end an interview with “How soon can I take my vacation days?”. Unsurprisingly, that did not end well. The CEO was already planning on hiring him. That candidate didn’t get the job.

When you end your interview with the wrong words, your interviewer often says, “They didn’t want the job. They never really expressed an interest in it. So we are offering the job to someone else.”

I rarely hear this about my candidates because I tell them exactly what they should say right before they leave. It should always be a variation of, “I want this job.”


“This is the kind of company and job I thrive in. I think we could work well together. Can we set up the next step in the interview process right now?”

“I have really enjoyed talking with you. Thank you for interviewing me. The job is something I would definitely like to do. Based on everything you have learned about me so far, is there any reason you would NOT hire me for the job?”

“I would like to work here. I enjoyed meeting the team. I can do an outstanding job here and I really want to go to work for you. Can we set up a time for our next meeting right now?”

“This is a great job. I would love to work with you. Can I have the job?”

“This is a great job in a great company. When can I start?”

If it all seems a little too gutsy to you, then go back and read the second paragraph. 

I only occasionally hear, “He didn’t want it enough”, from employers. That is when my candidates do not ask for the job.

Something to do today

Do you have a list of all the jobs you have applied for and the people you have talked to? That is another good list to keep in your job journal.

Picking up a hundred dollar bill can halt your career

Do you pick up money you see on the ground? Do you stop your career in order to do a menial project or take a job someone else should do?

Bending over to pick up a hundred dollar bill is a bad investment of your time if you are Bill Gates. He has averaged earning more than that every two seconds since Microsoft started. I did the math.

Imagine you’re the fastest pizza maker in the world and make the best pizzas ever. However, your name is also Tom Monaghan, and you founded Domino’s Pizza. Is the best use of your time to make pizzas and sell them? No. Not even close. No matter how good your pizzas are, or how many you can make, if you focus on making pizzas instead of making a corporate empire, you will be wasting your time. 

Just because you are the best person for the job, doesn’t mean the job is the best opportunity for you. 

Something to do today

What are you doing that keeps you from tackling more important projects? Who can you get to do that job for you?

Exploit your “excuses” for your advantage

You are not trying to get the job of “minion” or “muscle”. Don’t pretend that exploiting your life experience is wrong. It is not the same as mugging someone in a back alley. The real reason most people don’t want to exploit their advantages is that they “want to stand on their own two feet”. It is a lovely macho phrase that means very little. Our society, families and personal lives all rest on the shoulders of those who came before us. Admit that no matter what you do, others have helped you. Get on with using the advantages that parents, teachers, friends, clergy and God have given you. 

Here are some excuses people use and reasons to exploit them for your advantage.

  • I will not exploit my family connections to get a job.

Acorns don’t fall far from the tree. Employers need reliable hires. Getting someone from a good family is a much better bet than hiring a complete stranger. If they can’t hire you, but they suggest someone else hire you, they get brownie points from that other person. They win as much as you do.

  • My friends are too close to my heart for me to ask them for help.

If your friends object to helping you get a job, they don’t trust you with THEIR reputation. If you are going to let them down, you are not a friend. If they trust you and you will follow through, helping is what builds friendships.

  • I refuse to manipulate their emotions.

People always hire based on emotion. Always. Even if no one talks to you and they only give you a paper test, they hire on emotion. Paper tests are put together based on what people FEEL will give them the best employee. Your pay will be based on emotion – how well they FEEL you will do. Promotions are based on emotion – how do they FEEL you will do in the new job. Don’t be dishonest. Don’t be an actor. Tell the truth simply. The emotions behind the truth will help you Use them.

  • Inviting them to lunch is brown nosing and sucking up.

Actually it is called networking. In many companies senior partners and executives can be fired for not having lunch with enough different people. They are evaluated on lunch. Literally.

  • I won’t tell them I left because I was sick. I don’t want their sympathy.

You are fine now and it is relevant to understand your resume. If it will substantially help you get the job, tell them. Talk to a couple of job experts and get their opinion. If it will help, exploit it. 

  • I want the job, but I don’t feel right pressing them to choose me

They want to hire the person with the best attitude. They want the person who will work the hardest. They want someone who they can promote. They want someone who is excited. They want to hire the hungriest person. How can they tell that about you unless you keep asking them, “When will you decide?”, and, “When can I start?”

  • It is greedy asking for more money.

If the offer is very good, take it. Don’t argue. Otherwise, ask for more money. If you really are worth it, get the money. If they pay you more, you will be less likely to leave for another job because of more pay. They win too.

  • Taking this job to get experience, when I plan to leave later, is wrong.

Hiring and training you does cost money. Companies that invest that money have already figured out how to profit from it. They will either give you a raise and promotion, or expect you to leave. They will make money. You won’t cost them a thing.

  • I’m a veteran, but it is not fair to use that to get a job.

The leadership, teamwork, calmness under fire, discipline and fortitude veterans develop is uncommon. Bring it up.

Your life experience makes a difference. Whatever that experience is. You need to use it and exploit it.

Something To Do Today

Think of these “excuses”. If there are any that you use, how can you use it to your advantage?

Hurt employees are bad employees

If you are hurting, you are a terrible employee

Alone, Being Alone, Archetype, Archetypes, Expression

A woman moved into a new neighborhood and asked the man next door what the people who lived there were like. He answered, “They’re just people. What were the people like in your last neighborhood?” She told him exactly what she thought. He replied, “I think you’ll find people around here are exactly the same kind of people.” It is mostly what you take with you, not the neighborhood, that determines how you will like where you live or work.

Laid off, fired, divorced, or the death of family, friends or pets can all make you hurt badly. The trouble is that many people take those pains to work. There they perform poorly or not at all. Bosses understand a few days of mourning. The trouble is that some people don’t get back in the saddle. Those people are horribly unproductive or counterproductive for months or even years.

The people who hurt the most have the toughest time finding a new job. It is obvious when someone is suffering that we often tell them to take a week or two off to recover before they apply for another job. Why blow a great opportunity because you are in pain? Some people are so badly hurt we won’t even try to help them get a job.

In other words, don’t expect to get a great job while you are hurt or mourning. If you really are hurting you need to change and get back to normal or no one will want to work with you.

Poor social skills and terrible work habits have the same symptoms as debilitating emotional pain. Some symptoms are that you think, and it is true, that everyone at your last job was HORRIBLE. The boss was a lunatic. All your coworkers avoided you. Promotions and pay raises were denied because someone hated you without any reason. People were talking behind your back. Everyone wanted you to leave. 

The problem with that debilitating pain (or the other problems), is that you refuse to take responsibility yourself. When things are going that bad at a job, it is always your fault. You are bringing that anger upon yourself by something you do. Your attitude, reactions, the chip on your shoulder, or lack of listening, may incite the problem. Occasionally, very rarely, you have the wrong job. The problem is you.

Don’t bring those problems to your next job. If everywhere you go smells like crap, check the bottom of your shoes before you blame someone else. 

Something To Do Today

Think about your job search. Just think. And then take notes about your conclusions.

A Helium II attitude

Do you mistrust “Positive Attitude” mentors? Do their programs sound good but make you depressed after a while? 

The answer is found in liquid Helium vs Helium II.

Girl, Balloons, Child, Happy, Out

Helium II is a very unusual liquid. In the next paragraph I’ll use two people to show the difference between liquid Helium and Helium II. 

Jim applied to be a space shuttle astronaut. He practiced his positive mental attitude and visualizations twice a day for an hour. He knew that would get him the job. Somehow he ended up getting a rejection letter. Jim thought that being a 35 year old, out of shape, high school dropout out without a job or a desire to get one should have been overpowered by his “positive attitude”. A 77 year old man had more of a positive attitude than Jim, so he got the job. John Glen flew into space as an old man because he figured out a way to overcome the huge obstacle of age. It involved getting a job in congress and deciding how much money NASA got.

Attitude is really about preparing, contributing and finding your way around obstacles. Jim did not have a positive attitude. He just liked to think he did. John Glenn had a positive, unstoppable Helium II attitude.

Norman Vincent Peale, Maxwell Maltz and other attitude masters always said that attitude is NOT everything. Attitude just helps you figure a way around obstacles or a better direction to go with your energy. Positive attitude was never meant to be a replacement for reality and effort.

Helium II is an example of gas with an attitude. Helium II is supercooled helium that is not just a liquid, but a very special liquid. It will slip through molecule sized cracks in a container. If you leave it in an open beaker, it will climb the walls of the beaker and get out. Swirl it into a little whirlpool and it won’t stop swirling because it has no internal friction. It is practically unstoppable in many ways. The only way to really stop it is to let it warm up just a little bit. Then it becomes a normal liquid and all those fascinating behaviors stop.

You can have a Helium II attitude. Use your positive attitude to look for ways to escape the container you are in. Is there a crack you can exploit? If necessary, can you climb out of any career pit you have fallen into? If nothing else, you need to keep moving while waiting for your next opportunity. Don’t ever stop improving yourself and doing outstanding work. If you let yourself get hot under the collar about what has happened to you, you may become stuck right where you are, or slip even lower. Prepare and grow while keeping your eyes open for the next opportunity.

A while ago I helped a man get a much better job. For years he has been struggling with jobs that were below his skill level. The reason they were below his skill level is that he has always been educating himself. He has been spending his own money to better himself. His jobs have not measured up to his constantly growing skills. Since he was overqualified he decided to do the jobs he had exceptionally well. It wasn’t easy. But with his preparation I finally found him the perfect opportunity. I doubt he will stop now. He’ll keep studying and preparing. Pretty soon he’ll be too big for this job and have to find an even bigger opportunity. For now he’s just grateful he kept on moving and kept up a really positive attitude. The kind of attitude that always finds a way.

Something To Do Today

Writing in a job journal is a great place to start, you can write about what you want to do better. Writing it down rather than saying it reinforces your decisions.