Tips for the Journey
If one definition of "genius" is the ability to see the same situation from multiple perspectives,17 then this book is a guide to becoming a workplace genius. Some ideas will work right away; others will take more time. All of them will require you to first learn from the situation and then take action based on what you learn.
While you are learning and taking action, keep in mind the following tips:
As you try to make your job better or to find your way to a better job, be sure to keep doing your current job to the best of your ability. Choose actions that will help and not hinder your level of success. Even if you are planning on quitting, doing a good job on the way out can only help you down the road.
This book is a blend of description and exercise. The descriptions will help you to understand new ways of thinking, but you will only get the full benefit if you try out the exercises. Without jeopardizing your career, do all of the exercises as completely as you can. You'll be surprised by the results!
Changes in perspective are changes in how we think about things. They can be complicated, and they might require us to change our habits. One way to make great progress through this book is to find one or more other people who are willing to talk with you about your progress, or better yet who are working through the book themselves! A friend, mentor, or study group can help you to stay on course and be a valuable source of discussion and support. Find someone who will hold you accountable! You can visit www.likeworkagain.com/support for ideas and resources.
It's important to find support and equally important to be discriminating in where you look for it. Choose your advisors carefully! Telling a difficult boss that you are about to try out a new strategy on her, for example, might be a setup for failure. What you learn in this book is like learning a new language: You can think in it at any time, but you should only speak it with others who can understand and reciprocate immediately or who are willing to listen and learn.
Drive the Change
Our beliefs and our actions are partners in our experience; we can change either one by changing the other. You might not believe it is possible for you to like your job again, and you might be skeptical that anything can help. That's fine, but for the purposes of this book, it's best to act as if you think change is possible. That way, if it turns out that it is possible, you won't miss the opportunity to make the change. Who knows, you might come to a different set of beliefs as a result of your actions.
Own the Wins
If you follow through on what this book suggests, there will be times when you experience good results. Some will be small, like an interaction with a troublesome coworker that goes "just a little bit better." Some might be bigger, like winning the day by influencing someone important. It is critical that you take ownership of your successes, small and large. They are a result of your efforts. Don't attribute them to luck or chance; take credit! This will help you build confidence in your new skills for the next time you need them.
Not every situation will be a win. You will have moments where you "forget" what you are learning, and it might feel as if you are going backwards. You might get caught up in the moment and fall back into old habits. You might try things that don't work,18 or you might forget to try anything at all. This is part of the process. It sounds cliché, but setbacks provide the chance to learn something new. Every step might not bring you closer to your goal, but all of your steps taken together will. Don't get discouraged!
Read the Stories
You will find a variety of stories in this book. While the names and details in some of the stories have been altered, they are all based on real situations. Often stories provide a great way to learn and think about new concepts.19 That's partly because stories give us a chance to relate ideas to our own experience. So whenever you are reading a "true story" from this book, consider whether you or someone you know has had any similar experiences.
Do the Work
This book contains a number of interactive exercises. The more you apply this book to your situation, the more useful it will be. If you are struggling with a particular model or it is your first time through the book, you can start with the beginner-level exercises. As you get more comfortable with a given perspective, or if you decide to reread the book again, you can move into the more advanced exercises. Just remember this:
We suggest you obtain a small notebook for your thoughts and responses to activities. Even if you're not inclined to write in great detail, it can be useful to take just a few notes in each section while you learn and experiment with each new perspective. Your notes will be especially helpful when you reach the end of the book and revisit your list of what's wrong in your job today.
If you are able to carry the notebook with you to work, you can make entries there and then reflect on them back at home. As you try new responses based on your new perceptions, you can make notes about what works. Like a scientist, you can study your workplace from the third-person position and determine through experimentation how to influence your environment.
"Rinse and Repeat"
There's one other tool that is essential whenever you learn something new: practice. The purpose of this book is to teach you the skills to regain a positive work experience. They only work if you use them, and "practice makes perfect." Nobody ever learned to ride a bicycle just by reading the instruction manual that came with it. Eventually, you have to get on, pedal, fall a few times, and keep trying until you find your balance. The same is true here: don't be afraid to repeat an exercise, a chapter, or even the whole book!