I was not planning on writing anything like this post, but Seth Godin had a great post on learning from a lousy teacher.

If you have a teacher (of any sort) that you cannot please, that you cannot learn from, that is unwilling to take you where you need to go because he is defending the status quo and demonstrates your failure on whatever report card he chooses to use, you could consider yourself a failure.

If you substituted manager or company for teacher, does this sound like your job? If so, you obviously have some work to do. First, you need to ask yourself if your job is so bad that you really can not stand the idea of going to work the next day. If that is true, stop reading this and go find a job that fits. Life is too short to hate what you do for a significant part of your day. So, if you just have a lousy boss or environment, there are some things you can do to make things better.

Prepare Your Mind

As Seth states, “you could consider yourself a failure”, but that is not a good position to be in. So, you need to make your mind better suited to the task ahead. In order to do that, there are a few things you should remember:

  1. They hired you for a reason. They hired you at some point because they thought you could do the job. They made a choice, and you were that choice.
  2. You took the job for a reason. They company gave you an offer and you took it. Why? Was it only for the money? Or did you see a good opportunity for yourself.
  3. Take the lousy job as a challenge. Even if the company does not appreciate your work, you can prove your worth every day. By doing a better job than they are asking for, you are challenging them to try and “keep you down”. Your persistence is likely to wear other people down.

Prepare Your Job

Part of the problem could be that you are not a great fit for the current job you are doing. Maybe you are overqualified or even not qualified for the job. Maybe you just do not like your current boss. Whatever the problems are, either eliminate the problems or make the problems irrelevant. How do you do that?

  1. Show passion for your work. If you show passion for what you are doing, even something as simple as data entry, you will stand out from the crowd. For most people, they will translate that passion as knowledge or at least potential knowledge.
  2. Make the best of your current position. If you are overqualified for your current duties, take on more responsibility or even over-deliver on your next project. If you are not currently qualified for the job, make certain you can do the job. Read more about what you are supposed to be doing, and become a relative expert.
  3. Make your boss irrelevant. You do not have to like your boss, but he does control part of your career. Make certain that you take control by taking on more responsibility and become their right-hand man/woman. This will ensure that you have total control of your destiny, and eventually you may just be put in your boss’ position.

Prepare Your Future

Your current job is exactly that, your current job. What are you going to do next? By planning a better future, it can make your current lousy situation much more enjoyable. What can you do to make your future better? That is highly dependent on where you want to go.

  1. Learn something new. You can always go back to school, or even pick up some knowledge that can increase your value. In the software development field, this is a major requirement of your job. In any job, if you stop learning, your career will likely become stagnant after a while.
  2. Plan your career path. What do you really want to do? If you like your current industry, then try to plan what type of positions you would like to have. Create a to-do list of tasks that will speed you toward your desired path.
  3. Update your resume. In this case, I do not mean send out your resume to various employers, though you could. By updating your resume, you are taking stock of what you have done recently. This could point out things that you are lacking, or skills that you may want to learn especially if you took the advice in the previous step.
  4. Always stay professional. When people are put in bad situations, they tend to react defensively. Change your attitude and try to stay as professional as possible. Remember that if you leave your current job, you may run into your coworkers again in the near future.

Hopefully, you can use these tips to make at least a few of your work days better. If you follow several of these ideas, you could be on your way to a much better position. Always remember one thing from Seth’s post too, “If you care enough about the work to be criticized, you’ve learned enough for today.”

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