LightQuest Media

The Good of Bad Jobs

We’re unsatisfied at work.  We’re so unsatisfied, in fact, we’ll spend our
unsatisfactorily earned money to watch movies depicting the dissatisfaction.

The Devil Wears Prada, aka Misery with Management, grossed over $300 million.  Office Space, aka Cubicle Purgatory, became a cult classic.  9 to 5, aka Secretaries Finally Get Even, became the 20th highest grossing comedy of all time.

And that’s not even taking into consideration Clerks, Clerks 2, Clerks 3, Working Girl, The Secret of My Success, Fight Club, Reality Bites, American Beauty, and on and on.

Big discontent is big business.

in the wrong role

Hollywood seems to grasp our penchant for feeling disconnected from our work more than our actual work.  We’re doing jobs that do not inspire for people who often deny/ignore/dismiss this fact.  For many Americans, it can become even worse.  For them, the office is prison and management their warden.

Deep down, way deep down, we believe we’re in the wrong place, in the wrong life.  We should have made different decisions, different choices, gotten a different degree, gotten a degree at all, not taken that counselor’s advice, lived somewhere else, been someone else, then we would be living the life we were meant to live.

And there would be umbrella’d drinks in this life.  Fruity things that we sip in the sun.

by the numbers

We aren’t alone.  The working malaise is national.  In America, the majority wake up every morning and groan at the alarm clock, then drag themselves through the process of dragging themselves to work.

According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace Report, 52% of Americans are disinterested in work with another 18% completely disengaged.

That’s 70% of a nation’s entire workforce wishing they were somewhere else.

In reality, Americans are showing up to work and leaving their passions back home.  They go through the day with a robotic mantra: Do this.  Do that.  Fill this quota.  Meet this deadline.  Go home.  Take a breath.

Go to bed and begin again.

We may not understand why dogs chase their tails, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t do exactly the same thing if we had one.

the journey, not the destination

So what’s the answer?  Quitting would be great, but most of us love to eat, live inside four walls, and cover our nakedness.  Jobs are necessities.  So do we just go through the motions?  Clock in and watch the clock until we can clock out?

Joseph had a similar problem.  He, no doubt, didn’t enjoy being sold by his brothers into slavery.  He unlikely enjoyed being put in prison, either.  He woke up every day into circumstances not of his choosing or within his power to change.  And every day, most likely, looked as vexing as the day before.

But he kept going.  He worked hard.  He earned respect.  He did his job and looked ahead to his destiny – the dream God had placed in his heart all those years ago.  And, though scripture does not specifically expound on his thought process, Joseph obviously knew God had a plan for his life and, though he could not see it, he believed he was in it.

Even in prison.

Joseph was in training.  And he lived that way.

lessons learned

Going through the daily grind isn’t easy.  It’s a tough job, especially when it appears to be unending.  But, most of the time, what you see, what you feel, isn’t what is real.  Suppose you, too, are Joseph and this is boot camp.  You may not be satisfied at your job, but bad jobs are often the best teachers.  This may be exactly where you need to be in order to learn lessons you couldn’t if you were in a more contented situation.

Here are some of the things we’ve learned through our bad work experiences:

1. Thinking for yourself.
Bad situations test us.  We may not have realized how passionate we were about poor leadership until we were forced to work under poor leadership.  Or poor customer service. Or bad bookkeeping.  Or unhealthy culture.  Or… Bad work situations often wake up parts of ourselves we didn’t even know existed.

2.  Backing up your opinion with facts.
The best way to win a battle is in the preparation beforehand.  When you work in situations that meet resistance, you see exactly what muscles need to be strengthened.  If your opinions or ideas are often challenged, you’ll develop good habits of preparation and research.

3.  Picking and choosing your battles.
A man (or woman) who can control his (or her) tongue can control his (or her) whole body.  Touchy work relationships teach you when to express your opinion, when to hold your opinion, and when you don’t need an opinion at all.  Not every situation requires your two cents.  Spend your opinions wisely.

4.  Dealing wisely with difficult people.
Loving the lovable isn’t difficult.  It’s working with the unworkable that will streamline your people skills.  In life, you will come against many obstacles, most of them with two eyes, a nose, and a big personality.  Working with difficult people now will help you learn finesse later.

5.  Discovering your passion.
Bad jobs are good for us.  They show us things about ourselves we never knew, like what we love doing, what we hate, how we would do things differently, where our weaknesses reside and where we had undiscovered strength.

Like any good protagonist in a workplace comedy/drama/dystopian fiction, we want to win in the end.  We want that grand moment when the little guy wins, the bully is defeated, and the happily ever after is just on the other side of the credits.

But that’s the movies.

In real life, the laughs are more sincere.  The drama is more extravagant.  And the wins, well, they last long after the DVD sales are over.  This is your life.  Right here and now. Even in a bad job.  Even if you wish you were anywhere else.

Right now is a great time to learn because tomorrow the King may call you out of prison.