You Can Be Average #mnshrm11


This is a picture of me. Do you know who that guy is next to me? It’s Ryan Estis. We are both keynoting the MN SHRM conference.

Ryan and I took time out of our busy schedules on Friday in Raleigh to discuss important and critical issues.

  • Brad Pitt versus Robert Pattinson versus Ryan Gossling
  • How to remove peeling wallpaper
  • The messaging on my blog

Ryan told me, “You need to stop telling people to be average. Average people get fired and laid off.”

And I have to tell you — he is wrong. Sorta.

We are living in disruptive times. Nearly everyone who works in a corporate job will get laid off at some point in her career. The odds are against you. There are amazing people who are now zero marginal product workers. There are hard working men and women who — through no fault of their own — worked for companies that failed. And there are average workers who will lose their jobs, too.

I know a few things about work and about life.

  • We don’t control as much as we think we control.
  • Our time on this earth is limited. We have what’s been given to us. Then we die.

So my advice is simple: be a good human being and use your time wisely. You can pour your heart and soul into a career or your personal life — but you probably can’t do both. You cannot expect to attain happiness, health, wealth, fame, prosperity, and inner peace all at the same time.

Your job won’t bring any of that to you, anyway.

If you are lucky, your job is a pathway to a better personal life. If you are like most people, your job is something that facilitates better relationships and a more thoughtful understanding of the way the world works. And sometimes your job will get in the way of a better life. That’s when adult choices have to be made.

Being an adult is hard.

With your limited time on earth, do you want to be a great dental hygienist or a great wife? Do you want to be a great marketing professional or a great husband? We don’t always have to make a choice — and some of us are lucky enough to live in both worlds where our careers and our personal lives are awesome — but it’s rare. And that’s okay. I am here to tell you that it’s okay to be an average pharmaceutical sales representative who meets his sales quota and a great soccer coach. You can be an average HR  professional and an awesome brownie troop leader.

Those girls need you more than some moron at work.

So stop worrying about being laid off. It will probably happen. Do the best you can in life. Have integrity. And stop listening to people who tell you that your career is a manifestation of who you are as a person. Your actions and deeds reflect who you are as a human being. Not your job. Not ever.

And here is a Human Resources secret:

  • You know who gets fired first? The mediocre asshole who thinks he is awesome but is substantially lacking in self-awareness.

That guy always gets the hatchet first. Trust me. I’ve fired that guy thousands of times in my life. Don’t be that guy and you just might make it through this world fine.

But do listen to Ryan and read his blog. He is awesome and he is trying to save us all. Even me.

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