Abandon your BMW

It’s a bad investment of your time and energy. It’s an expensive piece of baggage that can only weigh you down. It will leave your career by the side of the road. Not the car, of course! Nope, I’m talking about the Bitching, Moaning and Whining (BMW) that happens at work.

I’m sure most of us have driven this kind of BMW – even if it was just a test drive. It usually happens when we feel a sense of outrage over our circumstances.

Picture this: You work overtime all quarter to make your numbers, but factors outside your control snatch almost every sale out of your grasp. Fickle customers decide not to buy at the last minute. Backlogged orders undermine deals. Your manager looks over your shoulder on every customer relationship. And a sluggish economy is making everything harder. If only these obstacles were removed, you would exceed your quota!

In this kind of situation, the temptation is to take your BMW for a spin. That is, you gather up a few colleagues in the break room, you vent your frustrations and commiserate, and you feel a temporary satisfaction and solidarity. These BMW sessions serve to help you build a case for why you missed your targets. And because your colleagues reinforce your complaints, you start to feel even more justified. You may even take your list of issues to your leaders, asking them to change your circumstances – asking for lower targets, more staff, better technology, clearer priorities, more understanding or more predictability.

But even the best, most understanding leaders can’t always come through with everything you need and want—and those are the ones who are trying. You end up feeling discouraged, like you’re being set up to fail. You try your best, but you don’t have much hope for success. So you try to care a little less about outcomes and accept what you can’t change. And you’re miserable.

If this sounds familiar, I have good news! There is a way out of this downward spiral of unhappiness and dissatisfaction at work. It’s called personal accountability – the idea that you are fully responsible for your own actions and their consequences. It is a choice, a mindset and an expression of integrity.

Don’t get me wrong. Your challenges are real! But don’t let them become your excuses. We all want to see our efforts produce great results. You will get results when you stop focusing on what is happening to you, and focus instead on what you can do, given your current challenges, to compete, deliver and succeed. This approach instills in you an internal motivation to succeed – no matter what obstacles you face. After all, you are not a cog in a machine. You are a problem-solving dynamo with the powerful potential to impress everyone. Honestly ask yourself, "is there anything else I can do to get in front of my challenges?" And go do it!

Are you stuck at work? Check out Cy’s latest book, Reality Based Rules of the Workplace.

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