By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Media Services
Q. I have a friend who is very religious and believes that if you are a member of her religion, nothing bad should happen to you. I have had a string of bad luck in my career this year, and she keeps telling me this is proof God is punishing me. Is God out to get me, or do bad things happen to good people?
A. Bad things do happen to good people. Since I donít know the mind of God, I canít speak about his or her feelings toward you. I can tell you that I think the experience of suffering in and out of the workplace is what creates compassion for others.
If you read this column often, you will notice that I talk about plenty of tools to avoid ìunnecessary sufferingî on the job. However, having worked with clients for three decades, I can tell you we all have plenty of ìspace junkî that can land on us, no matter how prepared, interpersonally skilled or beloved by our respective God we may be.
If your friend doesnít believe this, send her to read about the experience about a guy named Job and what he went through.
There is a developmental stage in children that many of us never outgrow. The stage is called magical thinking, and it is a phase where children believe they are uniquely powerful and can make what they want happen by thinking it.
If we are still in a state of magical thinking, then believing in the right God, not stepping on a crack, and throwing salt over your shoulder will all protect you from harm. If you outgrow magical thinking, the world becomes a more frightening place. You have to acknowledge that, no matter how good you are, your boss may fire you, your coworkers may undermine you, and your customers may go postal unexpectedly.
The good news about getting over magical thinking is that you will stop blaming yourself when bad luck strikes. When you are not blaming yourself, it is easier to take a look backward and ask yourself, ìCan I learn anything from this to change what I do in the future?î
The school of hard knocks at work is always an expensive but profound curriculum. Anytime you are suffering, figuring out if there is anything youíre doing to contribute to the problem is wisdom.
You are also wise to understand that sometimes bad luck does come in clusters. When it seems like every time you walk into your office another adversity hits, you may be enrolled in an advanced course from the School of Hard Knocks. When we are truly powerless and exposed to ill fortune, we have the chance to learn resiliency.
After going through my own career challenges and having the privilege to watch my clients thrive despite bad luck, I learned we canít control everything that happens to us, but we can control what we do next. If you learn you can cope no matter how bad your luck, you can give up controlling the world. You will trust yourself to find a life raft in any workplace storm!
The last word(s)
Q. I have a coworker who always glares at me. Should I confront him?
A. No, if he has a fight, let him bring the fight to you. Donít seek out a battle you donít want.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). Contact her at www.interpersonaledge.com
or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This was printed in the July 29, 2012 - August 11, 2012 Edition