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gr8hands

Scott,

I've had exactly the opposite experience. I turned down a great job in order to be the gopher for a powerful man of industry -- he told me that he was going to personally groom and mentor me for a top management job, perhaps even replacing him when he retired.

It turned out that all he wanted was a male secretary who wouldn't be intimidated by anyone trying to get in to see him. No "grooming," no mentoring, no promotion, no future.

Taking that job was a useful learning experience in not believing everything you're promised.

passerby

re RI_Reds and your 'loser descision' friend. Maybe he just doesn't trust you enough to take the risk. Does he have a wife and children to support? Maybe he is concerned that if he gave up his job for your 100k, your business could go bust in a month and then he'd be well stuck. Nearly happened to me. A friend offered me a job at a business he was starting with 50% pay rise. I turned it down. His business plan fell through within months so right descision for me. I'm sure you think your business is established and secure but presumably your friend doesn't think so.

ScottRC

I just sent the syndicates a submission for a comic strip that I'm really proud of and could see myself doing happily for the rest of my life. As I await their response, I'm scrounging for food - waiting for the temp agency to send me on yet another dismal assignment - and scrambling to figure out how the hell I'm going to pay next month's rent.

A few years ago I sent the syndicates a comic strip about two cute little kids who ran around saying and doing cute little things. I got the usual form rejection letters, but one syndicate (yours, actually) gave me a nibble: they said if I sent more samples that focussed a little more on one cute little kid and less on the other, maybe we could talk.

At first I was elated. This was the letter I'd been hoping to get for years.

Then I took another look at that cute little kid. I imagined having to come up with cute little things for her to say and do, day after day. After day. After day. After day ...

I decided I'd rather gouge my eyes out and chop off my hands.

I sent them a batch of strips in which the cute little kid did all kinds of un-cute, horrible things - like beating the crap out of people and throwing dogs off the roofs of buildings. The editor promptly responded with a one-sentence letter: "This isn't what we had in mind."

She didn't say, "Forget it - never contact us again, you sadistic fool." It now seems obvious to me that she left the door open. But I didn't send her anything more; I just decided that that was the end of that.

It was a big-time loser decision. I could have leveraged the editor's attention to show off other, better ideas. But I didn't. My stupid ego closed me off to an opportunity that might have at least gotten my foot in the door.

I don't like struggling to get by and I'm sick of doing menial work to pay the bills. But it makes me happy to know that I've grown as a cartoonist and that I'm (finally) writing and drawing stuff that I don't think sucks.

Maybe I'll get another nibble from one of the syndicates. Maybe I won't. Maybe I'm a loser; I sure feel like it a lot of the time. But I'm optimistic enough to postpone that judgment until I'm on my deathbed. And even then, maybe with my dying breath I'll pass on words of wisdom to an aspiring young cartoonist that will make him rich and famous.

"Draw ... a ... cute little kid ... saying ... and doing ... cute little things."

Thanks for the post. I love this blog.


Amit

Scott before i move to the "ego"ism of mine, let me jot down few observations of mine. First is this post is not something that can be tagged as "General Nonsense"; pretty non "Scott Adam"ish. Second was "the place where internet don't shine" some saintly hole you spent time reevaluating the "did"s of yours?

Anyways about my ego, i fear him the most. I see him standing in my path and i take a U turn. So i have never dodged it neither have i surrendered to it. And this behavior always threw me down the cliff. But like Wile E. Coyote from road runner cartoon i came back to be thrown down again :D

T Simic

I declined a scholarship once cos my ego wouldn't let me take what I saw as charity.

Idiot, that's who I am.

Dom

I read somewhere that it take a minimum of 6 months to know retrospectively whether you were happy or not in any given situation.

For example, it's not until you break-up with someone/leave a job/etc and wait 6 or more months that you can see that you were never really happy at all (as opposed to just at the point where you decided to quit).

So if time is such a screwy thing for us humans is it any wonder that we make poor decisions? We don't know we are unhappy when we are unhappy....

Shigeru Miyamoto

Well, admittedly, I could have created Sonic The Hedgehog.

I am, however, at that point in my life where I can accept that my contribution will just be the plumber.

NW

My ego doesn't allow me to look back, thus I never know what could've been...

Jim

My career would make a lemming blush.

Erich

No, but my depression grabbed the wheel a few times.

solak

I'm not sure this is ego-driven, or just another ignorance-driven scenario that sent my career off-a-cliff:

Some time ago, my whole (couple-dozen) department was laid off in a budget cut. During the half year that the money from my severance (plus a few short contract jobs) lasted, I got no real job offers. Then, within one week, I got two offers. The money for either was enough to continue a similar lifestyle.

The first one was maintaining and further developing a system that I had used before, and that user-level familiarity would bring a lot to the development team. Furthermore, that company had gotten that project from my former company, so if I took that job my years of service would continue as if I had transferred along with that project rather than starting at zero.

The second job offer was to develop a new system that could advance the state of the art, if not in the whole industry, at least for this product type. It would be a great accomplishment and would make it much easier for end-users to customize how they used these products.

I took the second one as the "once in a lifetime" opportunity that must not be missed. We took a couple of team business trips to scope out whether any collaborating companies had anything to give us a leg up on the project. There were some good ones, but nothing near to what we wanted to make. Then my manager assigned me to help out on various "related projects" to get me familiar with the existing products. After several months, I became frustrated that we'd made no real advancement on my intended goal. I had to ask around to discover that it was actually cancelled. Apparently, it would have competed with too many of our direct customers whose business was to customize our product for the end users.

Let's count the "duh!"s: (1) They couldn't just tell me that they'd cancelled it? (2) Didn't they realize this conflict (before they hired me) when they proposed the project? (3) We couldn't collaborate with those guys to make everyone's life easier? (4) I actually believed that these "related projects" were the best way to lead into my special project?

Yes, I learned a lot that year. It's not just the particular job they're offering that matters, it's the context in which it will be done.

How does one avoid making mistakes? Through experience.
How does one get experience? By making mistakes.

Andy

In the corporate world I frequently find my self telling superiors just what I think - somtimes shocking myself to hear me say what I say.

I frequently find myself taking new jobs that are infinatly more facinating than the previous.

Funny - I was between jobs & turning down an offer that didn't sound like a lot of fun - they must of thought I was a tough negociater - the offer got too good to refuse. Made good friends there too.

I don't call it ego - more destany. Early in my career a psychic told my sister that I would move through three career changes, and that I would do very well in each phase. In retrospect - perhapse I owe my sisters psychic a little more respect than I had previously considered.

LeeBee

Sometimes it isn't ego, it your principles. You have to live by your principles, unless you are car salesman. They don't have principles.

ramki

"The trick is to think of your ego as your goofy best friend who lends moral support but doesn’t know shit."

Thanks Scott - this is probably the best advice I have ever got on managing my ego... hope I can use it.

And in case I hadn't said it before - THANKS FOR BLOGGING!! YOU ROCK!!

Andi

Scott, why do you keep ending your posts with a question? It sounds like you're begging for comments. You'll get a ton anyway - let people come up with their own topics!

Enlightenment


I'm amazed at the number of idiot middle managers out in the business world. If a company can keep on going without the manager, then most likely they are just dead-wood and not needed!

The best thing about dumb-ass managers is they eventually sh*t on the best people one too many times to push them to finally leave and get a better job. Thank you a$$hole for pushing me to leave, because I get paid more money at a better job and don't have to put up with your LOSER ass anymore!

snogfest hosebeast

when I was earning great money contracting but in reality surfing 90% of the time, we had some high powered head office exec come and ask why our morale as so low.
I dared him to fire me. In from of about 30 people.
I was still there getting UKP50 per hour 3 years later; he probably owns his own telco.

WCE

I agree that most losers become losers from letting their egos get in the way, but I'd have to say that it's seldom one decision that makes a person into a loser, it's usually hundreds, all bad.

The guys I went to high school with who became losers started out making bad calls early and consistently. Often it was a variation on whether something was worth learning or not, their usual decision being that if it wasn't going to be on the final, then it really wasn't worth bothering to learn. Of course, the stuff that *was* going to be on the final usually required you to understand the stuff that *wasn't*, so these guys routinely flunked test after test, final after final, and barely graduated, only as a consequence the school already being sick-to-death of having them around.

Then they got their girlfriends pregnant because they didn't like wearing condoms and/or counted on their girlfriends to take the pill regularly, even though it was in their best interest to get pregnant and trap the guy. (Losers tend to marry each other, another point worth discussing some other time.)

Then, at the job, they didn't want people to think that they actually *needed* the work, which they felt was beneath them anyway, so they'd have to tell the boss where he could stick his job, figuring this made them a legend amongst their co-workers. Usually it just made them out of work with a pregnant wife and kids.

At some point insurance fraud starts looking like the smart way out of the rat-race, so they get in an accident and hurt their back and sue their employers, who usually cough up just enough money to get them completely out of the job market.

Long hours at home with the wife and kids and nothing else better to do with the time leads to booze and pain pills (if you found a doctor willing to say you had a bad back, then he'd be obligated to write you prescriptions).

Sooner or later the wife gets sick-to-death of having him under-foot, so she finds some other loser at her day job to shack up with, and sooner or later he figures that out and beats her up and gets his butt kicked by the new guy she's moving in with.

Restraining orders follow.

At some point, the loser gets depressed and starts wondering *which* decision he made caused him to end up like this.

And if you tried to explain it to him, he'd just argue with you.

Cedric

Good advice for anyone who chooses to follow it... oh but wait... no one has a choice... there's no free will... so the whole point is moot and irrelevant. You never had a choice back at the bank and you never had a choice with your comic strip. Everything just is. That's life.

Kavi Chokshi

I completely agree with Jonathan on the ego/pride/self of this issue. The self is more important than the opinion of the masses.


Quoted from Jonathan

"

So let me get this straight. The advice is to swallow your pride and cave? I know that excessive amounts of pride can be unhealthy but seriously, you consider caving in to the masses who demanded something you didn't even think was all that good was a good decision?

I know I'm coming off as some kind of arrogant, entitled "artiste" (e for emphasis on the pronunciation) but there is something to be said about dignity and holding your ground even if it isn't the best financial decision.

Turning down the gopher job so that you could have the pride of "management" may not be the best example. I think that was a case of lack of knowledge more so than too much ego. You didn't know what the gopher job could lead to.

However, in the case of Dilbert, no matter how much I revel in the ultimate result, I think giving up drawing strips that you thought were good simply because others didn't like it isn't a very good motivator for others.

*Sometimes* doing what you think is best, consequences be damned, is the best decision. Even if it makes you a "loser".

"

rd

ego as my bestest friend?
ok, i'll be your scheherazade for tonight so to speak
but it's not carrier related
so a few years ago one of our top businessmen was doing his business tour in japan and he passed through the city where i resided at that time and i was asked to translate for him, which i did for 2 days
in the evening there comes a phone call from him saying that he is like charmed and would like to fly with me to tokyo, he'll reserve the presidential suite etc (that spring our prez happened to visit japan)
i was like 1. ha? how it is like possible, i know you only 2 days 2. flattered 3. angry - who he thinks i am 4. in empathy and solidarity with his wife 5. feeling betrayed - i was feeling respect for him for that he seems very professional and for all he is doing for his corp and the country and now look at him etc
so i hung up
this is the tale which i'll tell to my future grandkids,if there will be of course any, as an example of their grandma's former charms and virtue
but sometimes i wonder what if they'll prefer to ask how was the actual prez suite and not my feelings of what did not happen
or that i could be like a top mistress instead of counting cells for my invasion assays something
which is unrealistic - coz our girls are getting younger and prettier and like multiplying each year, tough competition
so only possibly regretful thing left is
as if i could have seen the presidential suite?

Kavi Chokshi

I completely agree with Jonathan on the ego/pride/self of this issue. The self is more important than the opinion of the masses.


Quoted from Jonathan

"

So let me get this straight. The advice is to swallow your pride and cave? I know that excessive amounts of pride can be unhealthy but seriously, you consider caving in to the masses who demanded something you didn't even think was all that good was a good decision?

I know I'm coming off as some kind of arrogant, entitled "artiste" (e for emphasis on the pronunciation) but there is something to be said about dignity and holding your ground even if it isn't the best financial decision.

Turning down the gopher job so that you could have the pride of "management" may not be the best example. I think that was a case of lack of knowledge more so than too much ego. You didn't know what the gopher job could lead to.

However, in the case of Dilbert, no matter how much I revel in the ultimate result, I think giving up drawing strips that you thought were good simply because others didn't like it isn't a very good motivator for others.

*Sometimes* doing what you think is best, consequences be damned, is the best decision. Even if it makes you a "loser".

"

westsan

Oftentimes the "loser decision" is rationalized in retrospect. Without rationalizing we would not be able to live with ourselves.

Hammertyme

However, in the case of Dilbert, no matter how much I revel in the ultimate result, I think giving up drawing strips that you thought were good simply because others didn't like it isn't a very good motivator for others.

*Sometimes* doing what you think is best, consequences be damned, is the best decision. Even if it makes you a "loser".
------------------------------------------------------

Right, he should stick to what he liked not make a product that sells.

Tell that to the "Cartoonists" who only post on deviant art and who want to sell, but never will.

TasTigger

Thanks for this post. It's very timely for me, as I am grappling with such a decision at the moment. I am coming to the end of a contract with a good employer, with no certainty of an extension. The question is do I opt for a lower-ranked position so that I can stay on with this organisation, or aim for something more prestigious in another industry?

My initial instinct/ego told me to follow the path of greater prestige. However, I am now starting to wonder if it might not be such a bad idea to take a slight backward step. The benefit of doing this would be that I would gain some broader experiences in the industry I am in and, hopefully, increase my prospects for promotion in the long-term with my current employer. In the end, the decision may be out of my hands.

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