TGIF & Broken Bulbs | The Joys of the Employee Mindset
Since age 17, I have been a custodian, an ice cream courtesan (my fancy name for scooper), a private housekeeper, and a lighting sales associate. In each job were aspects that I enjoyed and remember fondly. There were other aspects too, which give me slight indigestion to this day.
One of my simultaneous favorites and nightmares was at the lighting store. I was showing off to my co-workers as I looked for some G25 frosted globe light bulbs. I'm twisting and weaving like I'm at a rave (this is in the back workshop away from the customers view) and I suddenly smash the bulbs together. It was the least cool thing I could have done and I returned to the customer with a remnant of his bulb and two new ones. He was good humored about my poor dexterity (I did not go into detail about the raving), and accepted the free bulb. Soon after a customer comes in and begins yelling about how we put the wrong color cord on her table lamp and demands we fix it on the spot free of charge or she will write the ultimate review from hell about our terrible service.
This story is relatively insignificant, but the aftermath is what I want to focus on. Immediately after that issue was resolved, the frustration and complaints began to pour out, in body language, words, and thoughts. The disdain for retail, the annoyances of customers, the lack of money, the traffic, it all culminated into a formidable weight that seemed unbreakable, that comes out in the word "hate".
And that is not a unique way of thinking. That is the norm. That was my norm.
I have been trying to understand how such a negative way of thinking can exist and I have realized there are two main factors.
1. It's been repeated so many times it has become second nature and
2. it is expressed and shared in community. The shared sentiment that is this: yes, we suffer from hard jobs that we dislike, but at least we suffer together.
When I shared my frustrations with my co-workers (this spans across really all my past jobs), they sympathetically fed the negativity because they shared the feeling. When they had similar frustrations, I fed into it just the same because it felt good to know that I wasn't alone in the struggle.
This kind of thinking is so limiting, so damaging to the success you can achieve.
WHAT IS THE EMPLOYEE MINDSET?
Most of us were taught that the best way to find success is through a formal education which will then lead to a job, to which you devote 40+ hours of your week, for a paycheck and benefits. This way of living is not bad, I'm currently in a job that I really like, which was made possible by the formal education I acquired. The problem is when people think that is the only way to find success and to veer in a different direction is too risky or different. And for those who deem a job as the only path, but are unhappy and stuck, that is where the evidence of the employee mindset manifests.
The Employee Mindset is a way of thinking that harbors on the obstacles rather than the opportunities. It is a desire for wealth as opposed to a drive for wealth. The person with an employee mindset is a victim rather than the responsible force of their life.
That mentality of wallowing in the frustration of being broke, defining yourself by your poverty or frustrations, mentioning dreams but immediately shutting them down because they can't be afforded, it creates a feeling of ineptitude. You are just stuck. But you keep going in the same routine because you need that paycheck and there is comfort in security. You are surviving.
Does survival have to be enough?
Why not take try to flourish?
And not just as some grand concept, but a tangible reality, starting with the belief that you can flourish. The fact that you are dissatisfied with your life is not some social construct.
It is an innate plea for change.
It is hard to really recognize that desire for change, for prosperity, for several reasons. Here were some of mine:
CHALLENGES OF A PROSPERITY OUTLOOK
No. 1 It's Safer to Relate and Commune In Negativity Than Risk Isolation
I touched on this before. I think we all want to be loved, accepted, and valued. If the people you surround yourself with feed into a negative monster then that's the main context you'll understand. The feelings of victimization or pain bond you. Even if it doesn't feel quite right, even if it leaves you feeling unsettled, because it is the shared sentiment it is easier to contribute and feed the negative monster too. But it is paramount to disconnect yourself from those emotional bonds so that you can reach your potential and achieve those dreams. Only by your change in outlook can your circumstances change.
No. 2 Humility: I Should Just Be Happy With What I Have
It is never good to seek riches for riches sake, to sacrifice others' well-being for the sake of your prosperity, but I don't think prosperity and humility are mutually exclusive. It is OK to desire for more if your intentions are genuine and positive. What is the root of the success you desire? Is it only the material possessions? Or is it time with family? Resources to serve others? Experiences you can share with loved ones? Yes, gratitude is essential and should always exist whether you have two pennies or two million dollars. But you can still be grateful as you climb toward greater prosperity.
No. 3 Innate Drive is All Well and Good, But How?
To shift your thinking requires a lot energy, a lot of new thinking :) I have often felt pulled by my environment, affected by circumstances which seemed to happen to me and I'd be upset as though I had been dealt an injustice (employee mindset). I learned that I must first take ownership of my life. When something negative happens, I cannot wallow in the misery, blaming outside forces, I must take from it what can help me grow, then move forward.
By changing the voice in your head, you are reprogramming the very habits you live by, the non-negotiables change, excited now by life those limiting beliefs are no longer good enough. You are relentlessly optimistic.
I recognize that I've skimmed the surface of the subject because the "how" is not a quick solution. I think it worth revisiting this topic and delve into it more because it’s truly a continual process. Hopefully this gives a brief understanding of the big first step to take.
What I advocate for is not completely quitting your job, unless that is what will bring you the fulfillment you need. I am in a job that is helping me build my design skills, invaluable experience that is beneficial to my career and also supremely validating with people who are supportive. But I also have dreams that extend beyond it, other passions and interests that aren't directly related to Interior Design, that bring me excitement and joy.
So, do I just forlornly look at those dreams and begrudgingly accept those elements of a 9-5 that don't make me happy? And wake up each day with growing resentment or pain?
I look for other avenues, other solutions that will open doorways to new opportunities, and it is all achieved by thinking anew. By thinking that my job is my only safety and accepting dissatisfaction as though it’s my humble cross to bear is no longer OK for me. I thank God for what I have and I will use that gratitude and motivation to strive for better. Not for what I lack, but for what I know I can achieve.
It's all about the mindset.