May 30, 2008
Embrace The Suck:How To Hate What You Do And Love It
After being called an SOB when I wasn’t looking (especially after taking a week off from the blog), I figure I’d better get back on the ball and post. Today’s words are dedicated to all those who have had a tough week to deal with, but who did what needed to be done anyway.
When I wrote about how to stay motivated to take action when your week goes all to hell, one of the strategies I gave for pushing past the resistance to keep going was this:
Give yourself permission to hate the work you’re doing. Popular self-help wisdom says that you should be happy and upbeat all the time, and if you can’t get excited by everything, you’re doing something wrong (and you should feel guilty for it!). But life says that ain’t so. Some tasks suck, but they simply need to be done, and it’s okay not to like them. I don’t like changing my youngest kid’s diaper, but cleaning up the crap is part of the parenting package. I don’t have to pretend to like it – I just have to do it. So don’t pressure yourself to get happy about crap work – admit it’s crap, but do it anyway.
Apparently I’m not the first one to come up with this concept – they’ve been using it in the military for years via a phrase which sounds much better than what I just wrote: “Embrace The Suck.”
When A Job That Sucks Is A Job Well Done
Face it, sometimes you’re going to have to do things that are hard, unenjoyable and unbelievably irritating (things that truly suck), and you have two choices:
- Get frustrated, drained, and pissed off because you have to deal with the suck, or
- Embrace the suck, and do it anyway, because you are an a$$-kicker like no other.
I’m reminded of an old United States Marines Corps recruiting poster I saw that said something like, “We’d promise you sleep deprivation, mental torment and muscles so sore you’ll puke … but we don’t like to sugar-coat things.” That phrase has always stuck with me because it actually makes hard work a bragging point for Marines, saying We pride ourselves on doing the things most people are too wimpy to do – because that’s our job, damn it. However you feel about the military (and let’s not go into it in the comments, please), this is an important distiction.
When you decide that having the strength to follow through on unpleasant tasks is part of what defines you as an a$$-kicker, it changes your perspective. You exchange some that feeling of being drained with a feeling of being proud of yourself. You tell yourself, “This task sucks, but I’m going to do it well because it proves that I rock.” And then you truly do “embrace the suck,”and do the dirty work with a good attitude.
You may not like the work any more than you did before, but you’ll sure as hell like yourself more for doing it without moaning and complaining. And a job that sucks becomes a job well done.
Suck It Up Today, And Be Proud Of It
Today (Friday) is a perfect day to “embrace the suck,” because most people will be moaning “Oh, I’m so glad it’s the weekend and I can finally stop working” (or, for the 7-day-a-week-ers, “Oh, man, don’t I ever get a day off?”). Don’t complain. You are stronger than that, damn it. Embrace the suck, do it anyway, and bask in the fact that you are, as I said, an a$$-kicker like no other.
(P.S. – That’s not to say you need to resign yourself to a situation that sucks. If you need to change things, find a way to do it. But until then, use this lesson to keep yourself in a position of strength ’till the change comes round.)
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