Christian Living


Think Like a Rat

We talk about “being in the rat race,” but this is probably unfair. It’s actually demeaning to the rats. Rats won’t stay in a race when it’s obvious there’s no cheese. The popular little book Who Moved My Cheese showed how even smart rats quickly look for new routes to follow when the cheese is gone. Humans, on the other hand, seem to often get themselves into traps from which they never escape. Some research shows that up to 70 percent of white-collar workers are unhappy with their jobs – ironically, they are also spending more and more time working.

Jan Halper, a Palo Alto psychologist, has spent ten years exploring the careers and emotions of over 4,000 male executives. He found that 58 percent of those in middle management felt they had wasted many years of their lives struggling to achieve their goals. They were bitter about the many sacrifices they had made during those years.

Just recently I had an attorney tell me she feels like a prostitute. She said that in exchange for every nice paycheck, she had given up her soul and her life. Each week I talk to individuals who feel trapped in their current work. They talk about being demeaned, belittled, and emotionally abused. And yet they stay, hoping against all odds that things will magically improve. Some seem to take a martyr’s attitude that God is working something out or that Satan is mercilessly attacking them.

Rats, however, move on once they realize the cheese is gone or perhaps was never there. Rats would probably be embarrassed to be labeled “being in the human race” for doing ridiculous things like continuing to go to a job that they hated every day. Take action to move toward whatever is pure, good, and honorable – in your life and in your work.

From the Bible:
“You are living a brand new kind of life that is continually learning more and more of what is right, and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you.” Colossians 3: 10 (TLB)

Can you think like a rat today? What is an area in your life where you need to walk away and seek a more peaceful solution?

“A man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting his bread.” Henry David Thoreau

A Donut and a Book

I talk to lots of authors who are frustrated with poor bookstore sales. Well guess what? Bookstores are often pretty worthless places to sell books. If you are interested in horses, where are you likely to hang out? If you are a great dog trainer, where are your customers likely to shop? If you write a book for military wives, where can you best reach them?

Each of these has far better locations for finding these affinity groups than at a bookstore. Look at the fortunes that have been created by having books or CDs appear only at Starbucks or Victoria’s Secret. We sold about 60,000 copies of the original 3-ring binder version of 48 Days to the Work You Love directly to customers by positioning as a career resource website, before we ever sold one in a bookstore.

Know your customer’s habits and you’ll know where to position your product or service.

Don't Fire Me: I Am Sick

A man who was fired by IBM for visiting adult Internet sites at work is suing the company for $5 million, claiming he is an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal. James Pacenza, 58, says he visits chat rooms to deal with his traumatic stress from seeing his best friend killed during an Army patrol in 1969. He says the stress caused him to become an addict and he claims protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He had been warned repeatedly and the IBM guidelines clearly prohibit his actions.

Let’s see, I think we could take this same approach for stealing, murder, obesity, or nose picking. Once we start down this slippery slope of blaming for our current actions, there really is no reasonable stopping point. Is it any surprise that companies are rapidly moving to using independent contractors, contingency workers, temps, and consultants to avoid the risk of having to deal with this kind of unreasonable claim? This guy will back himself into a corner, feel sorry for himself, and find that no one will risk hiring him again under any circumstances.

It’s amazing the opportunities that open up when we accept responsibility for ourselves.

Things You'd Love to Say at Work, but Can't

• How about never? Is never good for you?
• I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
• I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
• I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
• I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don't care.
• I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
• Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.
• The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.
• I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
• And your crybaby opinion would be...?
• Do I look like a people person?
• Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
• If I throw a stick, will you leave?
• I'm trying to imagine you with a personality.
• Can I trade this job for what's behind door #1?
• Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?
• Chaos, panic, and disorder - my work here is done.
• How do I set a laser printer to stun?
• I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that more than 5 percent of U.S. workers now hold more than one job. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I adjust my budget? Is the extra income really necessary, or would it be easier to change my spending?
  • Are there possibilities for overtime at my current job?
  • Could I do something from home that is not just a trade of time for dollars?

There may be better ways of creating income than sacrificing time that should be spent on family, physical, or spiritual development.


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