Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When good things happen to bad people

Some of you may noticed that the title of today's post is a play on the title of Harold S. Kushner's incredible spiritual meditation When Bad Things Happen to Good People, a deep and moving discussion on the nature of God and the misfortunes of our life. If you do believe in God yet have struggled with personal or external tragedies that seem senseless it is an excellent read. If you do not believe in God the book gives excellent points to argue with fundamentalists of many religions.

But the purpose of my post today is discuss our struggle with envy of co-workers who get ahead even though we think they are lazy, evil or stupid. I might have titled the post "why is that <bleep> driving a Porche" or "how did that <bleep> get a promotion". It just sounds nicer to say "when good things happen to bad people".

Some people will tell you that you should let go of your negative emotions in this regard, that they will hold you back. I am not one of those people. I suggest you limit the effect of those emotions on your life. Someone will always be better than you in one regard or another. Always. With nearing 7 billion people on this planet chances are they are in India or China at least. Wasting time hating someone on another continent is pretty silly... and it is the same with someone you work with. Don't hate them.

Let the envy drive you to be better than them. Look for the challenges and pass them like you would with a favored game. Imitate the things they do until you have them down. I once worked with a guy who literally did nothing but was loved and promoted. After a few months of resenting the hell out of this useless lump of flesh I decided to follow him around and see what he did all day. Turns out he had a very effective strategy to avoid work.

He would store up questions, even simple ones, that he needed to ask people in various departments. He would drop by their offices to talk about the questions and engage them in chats about topics he knew they would speak at length about. The question itself would take, maybe, ten minutes but he would ask about it at the end of the conversation. So, when you asked later, the two people had spent an hour discussing 'work' when in reality they only spent 10 minutes on work and anywhere from 50 to 80 minutes on interesting topics. And he was beloved as someone interested in them and dedicated to his work. He currently has a job flying around the world talking to people about topics that interest them while spending 10 minutes talking about his current company... and everyone thinks he is great.

So don't hate, imitate and vanquish those jerks.

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