Five Thoughts You Can’t Afford at Work

Thoughts Impact Your Attitude in the Workplace

A wise friend once told me that I can’t control my first thought, but I can control my second thought.  You can’t change what pops into your head, but you can change what you choose to dwell on – the thoughts that will form your attitudes and beliefs about your job. When these five thoughts pop into your mind, reject them, and your attitude will change as well. Torpedoing these negative and bad attitudes before they form will help you be a better worker and a better person.

1.)  I’m too busy and I don’t have enough resources!  Problem with this thought: It makes you look whiny, inefficient, and harried.  There was a time in my career that everyone who came to my desk said, “I know you’re very busy, but…” How did they know I was busy? Because I told myself I was too busy. I rushed from one assignment to the next, and when someone asked me, “How are you doing?” I responded, “I’m so busy!” Then I realized that this projected busy-ness just made me look frantic and ineffective. If you’re good at your job, you’re busy. If you’re not busy, you’ve got bigger problems.

2.)  These people are all idiots.  Problem with this thought: It’s not true, and it makes you look like a jerk. We all have days when our co-workers test our patience. They make mistakes we can’t even comprehend. They might even act like idiots. But they’re not all idiots. The problem with believing your co-workers are idiots is that this belief leaks into your conversations and your behavior. It’s hard to hide that you think you’re surrounded by idiots, and every mistake a co-worker makes feeds into this false image you’ve made of them.

3.)  I’m indispensable.  Problem with this thought: Thinking that you are the workplace linchpin makes you careless and arrogant.  This business got along just fine before you came along, and it will somehow get along just fine after you’ve gone on to greener pastures.  Skills and institutional knowledge are replaceable. Sure, replacing you might be a huge inconvenience. It might put some projects off for a few months. But do you really think you’re the only person in the whole world that has your experience and expertise? If you let this attitude reign in your mind, at some point someone will decide that they can afford a couple months delay in a project if they don’t have to deal with you anymore.

4.)  I can’t do that.  Problem with this thought: It makes you ineffective.  Given enough time and resources, you can do anything your boss puts in front of you. So if you think you’ve been given an impossible task, break it down into its parts and estimate the time required, the resources required, and the total cost.  Then go back to your boss and ask for the resources you need. Never think “can’t.” Think “how?”

5.)  I hate my boss.  Problem with this thought: It makes your whole life miserable and makes you a very important enemy. It’s important to see your boss as a human being with frailties and problems just like you. Let me tell you a secret: finding fault is no special skill. Anyone can do it, including your co-workers. Instead of thinking, “I hate my boss,” think “I don’t like it when he/she does X.” Focus on the behaviors you dislike, understanding that these failures come from human frailty much like your own. You just can’t afford to hate your boss, and if you can’t get over it, you should really find a new job.

Dan Lovejoy is a User Interface & Experience Architect at OG&E and a self-admitted adorable curmudgeon.  You can connect with him on Twitter @danlovejoy, LinkedIn, and his Posterous.  The opinions here are his own and not his employer in case you were wondering. 

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Dan Lovejoy

Dan Lovejoy is a User Interface & Experience Architect at OG&E and a self-admitted adorable curmudgeon. The opinions here are his own and not his employer — in case you were wondering.

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  1. AvatarJenna says

    Very insightful! I especially love this line, “Never think ‘can’t.’ Think ‘how?'” This is how I try to approach any challenge – whether it’s at work or not. Changing your mindset really does change everything!

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