By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q. I'm in the middle of my career and so tired of running into roadblocks to get promoted, get better paid and have projects that are more interesting. I have found the problem is usually my boss, my coworkers and the customers I tend to work with. How can I succeed when the problem is other people?
A. You can succeed only if you are willing to hit the delete key on the blame game. Yes, people can throw up hurdles to what you want. Other people are simply the boulder in the river that you need to flow around. If you are unwilling to keep trying new approaches, then the only one to blame is you.
The trouble with blame is that it's a chocolate brownie experience we all find delicious with our morning coffee. We savor the retelling of how we've been done wrong, been misunderstand and not appreciated. We enjoy pity from others, pity for ourselves, and the certain knowledge we are powerless.
The trouble is pity is a lie. Compassion for the difficulty of the human experience is always helpful. Pity, however, tells us we have no power. We always have power. Even if the power we have is to decide how we interpret our environment or react emotionally.
No one who really loves us will pity us. People who see our potential will empathize about our circumstances and immediately go into problem solving. No matter how difficult our circumstances or agonizing our emotions, life is still just a series of problems to be solved.
When we luxuriate in pity, we avoid accountability for our problems but also give up the power to get what we want. In the long run, we will be much happier if we accept accountability and that there is always something different we can do than wallow in pity.
Yes, it takes both strength and courage to give yourself a hug, acknowledge your emotions, and then ask yourself the critical question: What rock have you not turned over? Even if you have to try a million things you think won't work, ask yourself if you'd be better off attempting to make a change than hating your circumstances?
As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention; when people hit a brick wall, they have to try something completely different. They can stand there feeling pity as their nose rubs against the brick ... or they can make plans to scale the wall or keep pushing the bricks until a door opens. Guess who gets the cooler job?
Yes, we will often experience circumstances at work that make us feel powerless and without options. Yes, these are upsetting and often even unfair. But the bottom line is we only are really stuck if we give up on ourselves.
Even if you don't like your circumstances, like yourself enough to think outside the box, search for rocks you haven't looked under, and try anything different from what hasn't worked yet.
Your worst-case scenario is that you may have to continue to ask this question for much longer than you would like. However, if you give up on asking this question you doom yourself to never getting what you want.
You truly cannot control how others treat you, but you absolutely can value yourself enough to not give away your power. Tomorrow, delete the game of blame and accept accountability; try anything new anywhere you are currently miserable. The only thing you have to lose is your powerlessness!
The last word(s)
Q. I thought when I had spent a decade in my career I would know what I was doing and where I was going. Instead I find myself with more questions than answers. I like my job, but think if I was really good at it I wouldn't feel lost so much of the time. Is there a reason I still feel lost?
A. Yes, a rich work journey is full of times when you feel more lost than found. Lost means still exploring and learning, and found means stagnant.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027.Sorry, no personal replies.
This column was printed in the November 30, 2014 - December 13, 2014 edition.