Finding a job that allowed him to have balance in his life took 40 years, nine failures, and a lot of realizations. Here’s James Halcomb’s “Workplace Survival Guide.”
Something you may not know about me — my record at holding a job is less than five years.
Some of it is lack of commitment, an equal amount is circumstance.
From each job I feel like I learned something that has made me a better employee, and in some ways a better person. So, I thought I would share some of these lessons.
Wal-Mart: Just because you are too big for any of the big blue vests, when the big boss comes, you are still going to get in trouble if you’re not wearing one. Make sure you have what your employer considers “the basics”. If you have to wear a tie, make sure you have them. If you have to wear a white shirt, buy them. Be ready, be prepared. Don’t wait for your employer to get you ready. Initiative is a key for survival in the work place.
EMT: The human body is gross and fascinating on the inside. Death is often sad and lonely, so make as much of life as possible in preparation for the next.
Dillards: Learn to be a people person, even when you are at a phase in your life when you really don’t like people. Also, at no matter what age you are, hangovers at work suck.
Don Jacobs: When you go into a job, especially sales, know something about the product you are selling. During my time there, I learned tons about selling, not only sales in general, but selling myself (which is a big part of sales) to the public. I learned a lot there, but was soon relegated to a desk job, then let go from that. I was truly a forgettable employee to them, but it was a learning experience that I haven’t forgotten.
The Castle Jewelry: A phrase I will never forget: when dealing with the public, “Dance to the music played”. I learned that if you want people to quickly trust and work with you, you have to exist within their parameters, that talking with people shouldn’t feel like you are talking down to them. People hate a slick salesman. They also hate a desperate one. Confidence and control are what they need to see in you.
American General: Having a good time at work, does not equal doing good work. I lived the high life during this time, but did not do a very good job of … well, doing my job. Being able to assimilate well into the culture of your job, does not expressly mean that you are covered from not actually doing your job. Give it your best, to get along with co-workers, but put in some actual time with work. Water cooler talk is five or ten minutes, not 8 hours. Also, again, hangovers at work suck.
The Firm and Nicholas Financial: Sometimes jobs will truly ask you to give up a piece of yourself that no employer should ask for, no matter how good the paycheck.
84 Lumber: Yeah, I stink at manual labor. Know your limits.
Self-Employment: it sounds easier than it is. You should have money to back you up and be ready for tough realizations about the workplace and yourself. I admire anyone who can pull this off.
UK Healthcare: Here, I found a balance, a place that seems to actually want to let me work and be myself, though so many employees here have no real appreciation of how good we have it. Maybe this comes with age or experience, but I love coming to work and have genuinely loved the people I worked with, even the ones that hate my guts!
Every job has its challenges, but you have to find balance.
To be happy in your work, you MUST, I mean MUST find a balance that allows for you to do what you do and be what you are and what you want to be. I am pretty close to that.
Writing is my passion, although has to be relegated to slightly more than a hobby for now. I have a job I like, with good people, and it affords me the time to write and spend some quality family time.
Life is all about balance, good luck with it. It only took me 40 years.
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Photo: Flickr/Sean MacEntee