Perhaps it’s my spoiled, entitled, millennial upbringing, but throughout this first month I’ve found myself getting extremely frustrated at many points throughout the day at work. Don’t get my wrong, I’m very thankful to have a job, especially during such tough economic times, but just like anybody, there are moments where things get downright frustrating. During these times where frustration sets in due to what I deem “unfairness” or “lack of communication” or, to put it more candidly, “stupid freaking management”, I can just hear the more experienced adults shaking their heads at me with a satisfied grin and saying, “Hey kid, that’s just the way things are.”
I hear this phrase a lot during conversations about “The Adult Workplace”. “Everybody hates their boss”. “Everybody hates their job”. “This place will steal your soul”. “Overtime sucks, but at least you get paid a little extra”. This is a small smattering of supplemental phrases that usually precede, “that’s just the way things are”.
While I will not be SO naïve as to deny the present reality that we are not always going to love, or even like, our jobs, I will be naïve enough to challenge this notion that “that’s just the way it is”. Perhaps I am far too young and the harsh real world hasn’t whipped me into shape yet; but then again, perhaps that places me in the perfect position to speak on such a subject.
So how can we avoid these frustrations? In short, we can’t. Employees will always get frustrated, managers and leaders will always fall short. The question is not how can we avoid frustration, or tension, the question is, how do we best deal with it. That’s why your boss is usually called a “manager”, they manage tension. They’re not called “resolvers”.
So how do we manage these frustrations?
In my experience, there are few things more exhilarating than the feeling one gets from effecting change in an environment, no matter what the scale. What would happen to our outlook of the workplace if when faced with reoccurring frustrations, instead of resigning ourselves to “just the way it is”, we were allowed to ask the question, why is it this way, and how can we make it better? I’m not talking about challenging every convention in the workplace, but if I was going to spend over forty hours of my week in a single environment, I would want to make sure it was an environment where everyone was as alive and inspired and happy as possible. This comes from being heard and the feeling that we’re affecting change. The current convention may be “just the way it is” right now, but that convention probably was set in motion because someone got frustrated, challenged the old one, and made it better. This is what we might call progress, and it extends way beyond the workplace.
Affecting change brings a spark to our souls, and can do wonders for increasing team moral. When we look at the world as is, frustrations, hurts, darkness and all, and we just accept it the way is, we are dooming ourselves to an angry, selfish, discontented working experience.
Rather than accepting, let us begin affecting.
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