Why Some of Us Stay.

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For my first article, I wanted to pose a question.

If you are unhappy with the current job that you have, what is your motivation for staying?

My interest in this question was at first to see what the most common answer would be, and then to also address the root of the most common answer that I would receive.

Pretty straight forward experiment I feel. As such, I was all for giving my two cents for whatever information I would receive.

The premise is really simple as we have all been there at some point in our professional lives. Sometimes we have been there more than once.

It’s not always the best situation to be stuck in. To be honest it is quite frustrating to be trapped in that scenario. The helplessness, the feeling that there is no other option, and that we should be grateful for the job that we have, no matter how bad we feel that we might have it.

Or, the feeling that we have no other option out there because we are not good enough.

That last portion is the worst of all the feelings that we can have, and at times it could even be the source of our own undoing when in a job… not a career, just a job.

Some of the answers that I received were very interesting.

“Unhappy with my current job…..maybe. But the motivation for staying is a simple one. Not only is the money enough to cover my bills every month and put food on our table; but driving is something I love to do. Mind you it is not the job that I am unhappy with, it is the people and the politics.”
– Roy, Driver

“I stay where I am in the hopes that things will get better.”
– Michelle, Server

“I can’t find anything else that I am qualified for, and I can’t afford to go back to school to get something better.”
– Jeff, Warehouse Loader

“For me it’s because I don’t like change and hate losing seniority”
– Clarissa, Certified Nursing Assistant

“I stayed at my previous job merely to keep making car payments. Eventually the daily mental argument of whether blowing my brains out was better than that job made me realize I just needed to leave.”
-Anonymous, Call Center

“Some people are “stuck”. They have been in the position for a long time, but have no degree…they can’t go anywhere else for the same amount of pay, or more, for that matter, because they are lacking that ” X thousand dollar piece of paper”, but in all actuality, can run circles around anyone with a degree because of their experience”
– Tammy, Management

“I love my job but I have been stuck at [Redacted] for five years out of fear of starting over.”
– Lita, Hair Dresser

The results above are for the most part, right in step with the rest that I received. It seems that the biggest things holding people in position that they were not the most happy with (in some cases to put it lightly) was that many companies seem to not regard experience in place of a degree as a selling point for someone that is looking for work.

I will save that rant for a later time, but I wanted to focus on the overall point that was made with many of the responses. And that was quite simply…

People will stay with a company out of habit.

Whither the reason that employee’s give is that they don’t want to start over, or that they don’t feel like there is something else out there for them, or that they just can’t make it somewhere else… while all being valid excuses, they are at the end of the day, excuses disguised as reasons.

At the end of the day, it is something like this that will decide if it is a job, or a career.

Now while my career path has not been typical, it is the outgoing nature of how I present myself and information that has led me to constantly “falling up” the ladder when it comes to my employment. I spend time networking with people that are in my field, I try to open doors, and make it so that if in the worst case scenario, I would have a possible way into another company.

It is through the relationships that I have forged with colleagues in my field that has allowed me to work for the company that I do now, and the awesome part about it, is that while I knew someone that worked for the company, it was my personality, and experience that I was able to get the job.

I write this as someone that has been both a “company guy” and an entrepreneur, and the thing that has helped me is the ability to embrace the idea that I am a creature of habit, and I will actively try to make improvement of my position, and work place as a healthy habit.

On the other hand, not everyone makes these same decisions, but it is something that separates the “job oriented” and the “career minded”.

We all know that one person in the office, that complains constantly about things going on in the business, tells us how they would do it better, and then when the time comes for them to make a suggestion, or when they have the floor in a meeting. They completely buckle, and say nothing.

Again, I am not that guy. In fact, I was once banned from internal focus groups, because I was known for not holding back my concerns, and had the reputation of making the presenters look severely out of place with the questions I would ask, and the solutions that I would propose.

I had the thought process of stepping up and voicing concerns when I had them as there was no other way to fix the problem if there was one.

In it’s own way, it seems that feeling valued and the strength of communication have been the two things that have shaped how I feel about my career. I admit that I am pretty darn lucky, To me that is why I so thrilled with what I am doing with my professional life now.

Which leads me back to my question, and conclusion… it comes all down to this.

There are two kinds of employees that are within their company…

Those that are trapped in their job out of fear of the unknown, and those that look to the challenges in front of them in their career, and will do everything that they can to make things better.

I suppose the only question left is, which one are you?

That Extra Something.

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I had asked via social media a very straight forward question. “Are you able to take pride in what you do for a living? If yes, or no… Tell me why.”

Like in my previous article (where I asked if you were unhappy with your job, why did you stay there?), I felt that I had to ask about pride in your job.

Here were some of the responses:

“Yes. I provide a service that no one wants to do, but everyone needs. We are unsung heroes. I provide for my family, am self-reliant, and me and mine want for nothing. I don’t do what I do for the fame. I do it because without me, the world would be screwed under their own filth.”
– Clarence, Commercial Driver

“I love to make soy candles I love what I do and it helps to get rid of my stress.”
– Lois, Small Business Owner

“Yes. I keep 3 children healthy and happy. I budget, meal-plan, penny-pinch, and make sacrifices so we can all live a quality of life that otherwise wouldn’t be possible on our current income. And I’m damn good at it.”
– Rosemary, Homemaker

“Yes. I believe helping people find their way to God and his will for them is a blast.”
– Kurtis, Pastor

All of the above were great answers.

There was something that I noticed about the answers that were given, as every answer that I received were all along the same lines. As every responder was

When I was a kid, it was instilled in me that if you could not be proud of what it is that you do for a living, you don’t really have a reason to continue devoting time to it. That if you are not able to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day, and feel good about what you do, it is time to call it quits.

It is with that thought process that I have left companies that I had worked for. Whether it was for reasons pertaining to ethics, safety, or business practices, I drew a line in the sand and refused to stay with said companies.

On the other hand, I am very proud of the company that I currently work for. So I can say that I have experienced both sides of the coin.

The ability to take pride in where you work, or what you do for a living, is not just something limited to business owners or people that work in fields that carry a certain prestige to them. While I have friends that are in the military, police officers, fire fighters, and paramedics… I have friends that work as drivers, custodians, and clergy that take just as much pride in what they do.

For many years in this country, it was the concept that Americans have come to a point where we not only look down on certain occupations, but we refuse to work certain occupations as they are beneath us as a whole.

While there are many occupations that fall under this umbrella, there are some things that I learned recently that kind of blew my mind.

Recently there was a study done that evaluated the percentages of American citizens vs Non-citizen immigrant workers in the realms of Taxi drivers, house keepers, landscape workers and the like. The aim of the study was for the most part, to see if those fields of work were truly worked by Americans or not.

The United States Census Bureau looked at around 400 occupations in the United States, and came up with some very interesting facts.

51% of Housekeepers
58% Taxi Drivers
63% Butchers
64% Landscapers/Groundskeepers
66% Construction Workers
72% Porters, Bellhops,Concierge
73% Janitors/Custodians.

All American Citizens, showing that these are positions that are not entirely “immigrant” positions. They are in many cases, lower skill, or without needing vast education, but at the same time, have their own kinds of education. Meaning that there is still some kind of special training in order to do them.

Butcher’s for example need to be taught how to do what they do, and they also have their own union in many cases. You can also take classes in this trade at many community colleges. After all, it is an occupation that has been around for well over a thousand years.

Now, I know what you are thinking. “What does that have to do with taking pride in what you do?”

It’s simple. Pride in one’s work, is still the driving force in staying with your occupation, and that skilled trades such as butcher, landscaper, welder, etc. as well as the “low skill” jobs such as housekeeping, taxi driver, farm hand, while looked down on in some circles… require a certain amount of dedication and as a result, pride in those occupations.

We need to take pride in what we do to do it well. To make sure that things are not only done right, but also done to the high standards that are sometimes required by those on the outside looking in.

It takes me back to what I was saying before with what I was raised with, “If you don’t have pride in your work, you don’t have any business doing it.”

Again, the responses that I got were overwhelmingly positive. Some of the responses came from those that had responded to my previous article asking about why do they stay with their current line of work… and to their credit, they responded positively to that question as well.

At the end of the day, I guess what it all boils down to, is really just a couple of factors that we can all agree on.

When you can feel good about what it is that you are doing, you will be able to put that extra effort into it. You will go above and beyond to ensure that not only are you doing your job right, but that you stand head and shoulders above anyone else that does the same job.

Be the hardest working person that you know, and you will have success following you no matter what it is that you do.

And that is something that I can take pride in.