Do You ‘Punch In’ Or ‘Become One With Your Work?’

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In a recent Blue Bloods episode, Eddie Janko and Anthony Abetemarco wait for a suspect to leave a building while sitting in an unmarked car

While waiting, Eddie shared a recent experience with the Reagan family. Anthony responded,

Did you ever see the Reagans do anything outside of work?

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Anthony’s message is clear. The Reagan family’s work is the Reagan family’s life. Police commissioner and Reagan family Father, Frank Reagan, even calls it the ‘Family Business‘.

I don’t share this story just because I like the ‘Blue Bloods’, which I do.

I share it because their attitude towards work is my attitude toward work.

Before half of you stop reading, consider my first professional role. It was a merger of two organizations.

If you haven’t been through a merger, one firm buys another or they agree to combine as equals.

Besides the natural synergies which Leadership hopes will result from the combination,

Leadership also believes the combination will result in equal, if not, growing revenues while costs will decrease as ‘redundant’ personnel are laid off.

Here’s what that meant for me in my first two years,

  • Practically everyone who worked in the aisle next to me lost their job.
  • Someone who worked five cubes down from me lost their job.
  • One day, the guy who worked on the other side of my cubicle wall was laid off.

These were just the people who sat near me.

It didn’t help that,

  • The 1990 recession hit.
  • New technologies were making older products obsolete.
  • Our mother company was considering new strategies which three years later resulted in the division being put up for sale.

In an environment like this we no longer asked if layoffs were coming, it was just a matter of when.

Ultimately, lay offs became more the norm than the exception.

Hallway talk no longer focused on the local teams. Instead, it was more like,

Department X got hit last week. I heard Y’s getting it this week. I wonder when we’ll be hit.

In an environment like this, some might think, why did you stay?

You stay because you don’t know if it will be any different anywhere else.

Most people also realize that as a general rule, the last hired is usually the first fired. (They’re fired because they know less than other employees and have fewer connections.)

A close friend worked with a gentlemen who hated our employer. He always raved about this other company. Finally he was hired by that company. A year later, his department was eliminated.

A number of friends worked in a newly created department at my employer. These people came from all across the country to work in that department. A year later Leadership decided to eliminate that department.

Since I wanted to be a long term employee, it quickly became clear what I had to do,

I worked every Sunday after church. This strategy helped me stand out because I had already put in six hours before 8:00 AM Monday. As a result, whatever was due Monday was already on my boss’s desk.

I was never late for work. In fact, I usually arrived early and worked late.

Unlike others who only think about work when they’re on the clock, I became ‘one with my work’. Becoming ‘one with my work’ made sense because,

When I wasn’t sleeping, the majority of my time was at work. As a result, I never stopped thinking about work. I don’t mean I drove myself crazy thinking about work. I do mean that when I wasn’t there I frequently pondered my everyday work challenges. I’m a strong believer in Voltaire’s quote, No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking. I’m a strong believer because I’ve seen it work in my life.

Long ago, a French king said, ‘L’etat c’est moi’. Translated this means ‘I am the state’. I resonate with this quote because ‘I am my work’.

All of these strategies enabled me to solve problems, create valuable work and start building a list of achievements for my resume and my next interview.

One more thing, in the 24 years that I worked for that employer, my job was eliminated four times. However, I worked in four departments, was promoted three times and my salary tripled.

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Okay, two more things, if you believe you’ll never lose your job, I encourage you to see the Private sector gross job gains and losses published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a nutshell, over the past 10 years, long before the pandemic, between 6 and 8 million Americans lost their job every quarter. The good news is in 37 of those 40 quarters more jobs were created than were eliminated.

I hope you found this helpful.

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Clark Finnical is the author of 

 Job Hunting Secrets (from someone who’s been there)

LinkedIn Strategies to Take Your Career to the Next Level , 

 12 Lies Told To Job Seekers,

 How to Stand Out: From All of the Other Candidates

What No One Told You About Job Titles and Your Job Search  

The Job Loss Mind Game: What Really Happened And What You Need to Do Now

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Featured Photo by Daderot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Steve Schirripa by Tom Hannigan, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Article originally appeared in clarkfinnical.com