The Professional – It’s a Sabotage – 5 Simple Ways You’re Undermining Your Career

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I have been exceedingly blessed with just over twenty-one years of work experience; nineteen years employed by the same company. I am truly thankful and gracious to experience such longevity. I have held a number of roles at various levels within the organization, and I have observed the varying degrees of success and failure of other colleagues. At this point, I am never surprised to see a colleague blame their lack of success on other individuals or the company itself. Now, I am not carelessly blind to the existence of professional barriers based on racial, gender, age, and sexual orientation discrimination. That is a topic for another conversation.

And while the aforementioned offenses could surely send a career down in flames; let us recognize other brazen violations that will not only severely hinder one’s career; it could get you terminated, sued, or perhaps even worse – sent to jail. Offenses such as sexual harassment, physical assault, theft, or NSFW material in the office will surely tank anyone aspiring an ascent up the corporate ladder. Today, however, I want to highlight 5 behaviors that aren’t so blatant. Well, maybe they are blatant. Still, you would be surprised that some individuals don’t connect these toxic traits to a sputtering or unfulfilling career.

5 Office Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Career

  • Gossiping – The professional environment should remain as such – professional. Yet many individuals behave as if they are still in grade school. To be sure, word does indeed travel fast – as does the identity of the individual spreading said word. Disseminating misinformation and/or disinformation is a good indicator that the person is not particularly trustworthy. Advancing your career could prove to be difficult if you develop a reputation for spreading inaccurate information, blatantly false information, or information that should otherwise be kept confidential. Leadership will be hard pressed to have an individual amongst the ranks that consistently leaks and spreads information to the detriment of the company.
  • Complaining – Straight up and to the point: No one wants to work with a malcontent. True indeed, misery loves company. However, misery needs to understand that the rest of us can do without your negativity and toxic attitude. Understand that your incessant complaining is draining and exhausting. Offering opposition absent any meaningful propositions is never constructive and adds zero value to the work environment. The malcontent only exceeds at dampening spirits, derailing productivity, and worse yet – spreading their toxicity to other employees. If presented with the opportunity, a company would be most inclined to remove this workplace cancer from the team.
  • Average at Best – A professional should never be too comfortable with being comfortable. True, one can feel fully satisfied with their current work situation with absolutely no desire for further advancement. And that is fair. However, performing the bare minimum just to skate by could very well jeopardize performance reviews and tag you as exceedingly expendable. I am not advocating that one work themselves into an early grave for an ungrateful employer. However, willful acceptance of mediocrity is not doing your development any favors – professionally or even personally.
  • The Office Villain – Closely related to the complainer; but instead of consistently sharing their disdain solely towards the company, venom is also unleased upon fellow colleagues. Communication consists of belittling and disparaging others. Work ethic is strictly self-serving without any regard for making the team better. The office villain is obnoxious, rude, inconsiderate, and quick to throw anyone under the bus to get ahead or avoid responsibility. This person never crossed a bridge they didn’t like to torch. In the workplace, your reputation is your brand. So, don’t expect anyone to invest in you if the product is unprincipled, cantankerous, and trash.
  • Bad Work Performance – This example is self-explanatory. Woefully devoid of self-awareness, you are unabashedly terrible in your role. Trust, at any moment, your belongings could be in a cardboard box. Yet, you think your dreadful work performance and poor work ethic should be handsomely rewarded during performance review time. The profound lack of ownership regarding your shortcomings and errors is breathtaking. You display little curiosity in learning and growing within your professional craft. If you are adding little to no value (maybe even adding negative value) to a company; understand that your career stagnation is wholly your own doing.

Note: There are exceptions to every rule, and some individuals you may see succeeding embody the traits above. Nevertheless, that is not an excuse for you to exhibit the same behaviors. Ultimately, the goal is to be the best version of yourself and live your best life.

Daddy Diary – It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday – My Little Girl Is Growing Up and I’m Hopelessly In My Feelings

I must humbly submit that I am fraught with trepidation writing this post. Unfortunately, I don’t write much nowadays because the daily grind of life has allowed time to escape more readily than I desire. However, events of the past few months have exposed me to a predictable inevitability; kindling deep reflection that I want dutifully documented. Therefore, if you would please, bear with me because I am perhaps rusty with this blogging thing. Allow me to proceed straight away to the point – my beautiful baby girl is blossoming into a little young lady. And through this maturation, I have been overwhelmed with varying emotions. Nostalgia, sadness, joy, and pride all spiral within me, lessening and magnifying in strength depending upon the day’s mood.

Admittedly, during those seemingly perpetual days of torturous sleep deprivation, as I clung desperately to any modicum of available sleep, a friend noted that I would one day miss those days. And defiantly, I stubbornly disagreed with the absurdity. Well, the time as begrudgingly arrived. Trust me, I certainly do not long for the days of erratic and scant sleep. Nevertheless, I do yearn for those early years when that intimate connection between father and daughter was being cultivated. Now, as she grows older and establishes more independence, her dependence on me is seemingly fading. Yes – I am being overly dramatic. At only 8 years of age, she is still greatly dependent on me for a host of things. And she will be for the foreseeable future. However, as a parent of a growing child, emotion and logic sometimes don’t cooperatively coincide. So, what has me thinking and caught up in my feelings nowadays? I felt compelled to connect again with my audience and share a few thoughts below.

  • Long gone are the days of putting my daughter to sleep with Kenny G softly playing in background. And gone are the days of making a small pallet on the floor next to her crib as I sleep trained and took her to potty at night. Those nights have been replaced with her escaping to our bed after a nightmare whilst elbowing and kicking me and my wife because she is a trained mixed martial arts sleeper.
  • Harry the Bunny. Shushybye Baby. The Dance Time Boys. Musti. This was the era of Baby First – an educational television channel geared towards the development of babies and toddlers. Disney Junior introduced Doc McStuffins, Octonauts, and Mickey’s Playhouse and PJ Masks. Now Bluey and Firebuds are in constant rotation. I swear I watched these programs more than I watched regular adult programming. Theme music danced in my head throughout my workday. It was a great escape from the tiring grind of adult life. Ava would cuddle underneath my arm and place her tiny hand on my forearm. As she has grown older, we don’t share those moments that often anymore. However, she surprised me the other day. She plopped down on the couch beside me and said, “Can I come chill with you dad?” Chill? She’s in elementary school now, so she is picking up new lingo. She snuggled up next to my shoulder. I smiled inside.
  • First, I would carry her into daycare. That soon progressed to me guiding her little staggering steps into school – sometimes still carrying her due to inclement weather conditions or simply trying to save time as I was pressed to get to work. Now, we are all the way to the point of her walking to the school bus stop. Initially, I walked her to the school bus stop, but I was hastily demoted in favor of her walking with her friends. As the weather has shifted to brisk mornings, she now prefers the warmth of my SUV until the bus arrives. Thankfully, the bus stop is literally one block over from our house. I guess I’ll wait until spring to get demoted again in favor of the girls next door.
  • And speaking of demotions, I fondly recall a teacher complimenting the preparation and content of Ava’s lunches. I took great pride making her lunch the night before school day. However, I was once again wantonly stripped of my responsibilities as I was now rudely replaced by elementary school…cafeteria food? I felt like Craig being fired on his day off. The absolute, unmitigated, audacious nerve of it all! What in the tater tot casserole and non-descript pizza on an aluminum baking sheet is going on here? Nevertheless, some of my services have been retained, as I have been commissioned to pack complementary snacks for the princess. Boy have I sunk low.
  • I have not even touched the topic of boys. Now, she has not openly admitted to an attraction to the opposite sex, but I was treated to an extended period of incessant chatter about her “best friend” – whom happened to be a boy – at school. Every. Single. Day. And the day he was a little mean to her – she was crushed. Teaching moment. In the distant future, I now understand I need to recruit a close confidant to have a conversation with any young men that may enter her life – we’re talking a Will Smith/Martin Lawrence Bad Boys’ style conversation. Just joking, just joking – no, not really.

Now, I completely understand all of this sounds over-the-top. However, whether I am summoning Small Potatoes (a cartoon short that used to air on Disney Junior) on my smart phone to distract and comfort her in the ER, pulling a splinter from a tiny foot, purchasing her favorite character’s Halloween costume, or cooking one of her favorite dinners (chicken& waffles); I care very deeply about being a fully present father. And dwelling within my scattered thoughts is the unreasonable fear that one day I will no longer be needed. I’m woefully obsolete. It is that intense tug-of-war between emotion and logic. Emotion dictates a converse relationship between a child growing older and my own parental worth. As her age increases, my worth and value decline. Logic then intervenes and affirms that as a parent, as a father; I will always have purpose and presence in my children’s lives. I need to cope and understand that change is indeed inevitable. Nonetheless, those changes don’t detract from my role and responsibility. I need to remind myself every now and again. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go fix my little girl some hot tea with lemon & honey to assuage a nagging cough.

Living Your Best Life – Unexpected Joy

GiftsIt would be an immense understatement if I said last year was painfully challenging. Consumed with anxiety and stress; personal victories were attained by simply making it through a day with a shred of sanity intact. True to form, life is predictably unpredictable, and sometimes leaning heavily into faith is the only recourse – even when said faith is terribly shaken. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the quality of life that has been afforded to me through grace and mercy. I am exceedingly thankful that my family has been able to endure the pandemic absent severe sickness or death.

Now, it would be disingenuous to suggest that faith alone solved all my tribulations. And for all intents and purposes, I am a practical man that favors tangible and actionable solutions. Over the course of the year, I was able to find sanctuary within a myriad of activities that were enjoyable. And as the year winded down, the holiday season presented an unexpected opportunity for a constructive distraction to assuage the discomfort in my spirit and mind.

That distraction arrived in the form of wrapping Christmas gifts. Due to my slight habit of being obsessive compulsive, I discovered myself diving into YouTube tutorials featuring the art of gift wrapping. Instagram and Pinterest became familiar destinations to extract visual inspiration. Big box locations such as Michaels and Target stocked the necessary supplies to transform imagination into reality. If but for brief moments of solitude, I was able to glean a piece of happiness through the coordination of design, color, and material. It was especially satisfying to present a beautiful array of gifts under the tree to my children. One of the greatest joys of fatherhood is being able to provide happiness to your children. So, whenever or wherever you might discover some unexpected joy in life; ensure that you grant the requisite time to absorb and appreciate every second of it.

The Standard #58

Clouds

To be absolutely clear, a hardworking gentleman understands the meaning and value of his tireless labor. And to be absolutely sure, the reality of fatherhood only heightens said understanding. Trust, this gentleman maintains a deep, fundamental comprehension of provision and the significance of being a contributor. And so, when seasons of life are absent peace or joy – perhaps both; it is not uncommon for him to lean heavily into his work; a passionate attempt to seek refuge and fulfillment by claiming, reasserting his own value to himself. Work is transformed into an instrument that exerts authority over one’s mental and emotional well-being. It is a blunt tool utilized to manage anxiety, stress, insecurity, and pain. He accepts the incredible burden of arduous work to unburden himself of heavier burdens – both emotional and mental. However, whatever accomplishments that are attained, the satisfaction is never truly satisfying. Frantic attempts for relief only lead deeper into work. The wise gentleman must conclude that work does not inherently grant him value. Rather, it is he that affords value to his work, to his friends, to his family, and to himself. So, if no one tells you today (and demonstrate through their actions); I am here to convey on behalf of countless gentlemen such as yourself; you are recognized, appreciated, respected, and loved.

Living Your Best Life – Fulfillment

As an engaged father, being an active participant in your child’s life is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have as a parent. As you nurture their burgeoning self-esteem and champion varying accomplishments; their achievements will reinforce one of the most important components in a gentleman’s life – purpose. To be sure, acceptance of idle fatherhood is to deny one’s principal role as a father. Passionately embrace your purpose, and the joyful fulfillment you feel will further drive the best in you.

Living Your Best Life – Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not necessarily intended for the individual that inflicted pain upon you. Rather, forgiveness is freeing oneself from the bondage of grief, hate, and vengeance. Forgiveness is an arduous exercise of affording deserved peace and order to one’s spirit. Forgiveness is moving forward untethered to suffering and pain.

Living Your Best Life – Success

As I have grown older, I realize that success should not be a measurement based on the accumulation of material objects or a particular station in the world of business. Rather, my success is determined by the value I add to the lives of family & friends, the servant-leadership I provide to the community, and the quality of life I help provide for my family.

Don’t Push Me, Cause I’m Close to the Edge – Maintaining Sanity in a World of Insane Stress

I cannot accurately recite how many times she beckoned for my attention, but the urgency of her tone revealed that it had been more than a few times over. As my mother-in-law called my name, I sat blankly staring out of a window, quietly lost in a turmoil of thought – muted to my surroundings. Suddenly, I was fully present again. I cannot accurately identify the specific catalyst that triggered my temporary, unresponsive state. However, if I dedicate enough thought to the matter, it most likely was a perfect culmination of stress related to marriage, fatherhood, health, and work. Responsibility. Obligation. Accountability. In other words, the daily strain of life.

And absent personal time for proper reflection and meditation, the mind sporadically pivots from one stressor to next, until you slowly begin to detach from your immediate environment – thus perhaps explaining my stupor at the time. My focus was scattered. A multitude of issues converging within my mind simultaneously. The stress would also manifest itself in other aspects of life. Sometimes, I could not derive happiness from events that would normally bring joy. My interpersonal skills would sometimes suffer with people close to me, as I would disconnect and shut individuals out. My drive and energy were nonexistent. While I am certainly not a therapist, I have formulated some thoughts and strategies to combat my stress. I detail a few points below. Nothing is a perfect solution, but it makes stress more manageable.

Stress Relief for the Gentleman

  • Recognize, perhaps, there is an issue. I’m just stating if you are feeling out of sorts and stress is becoming overwhelming, it is time to enact measures to address the current adversities burdening your spirit. Don’t ignore what is troubling your mind and spirit.
  • Recruit wise counsel, because sometimes having a good sounding board is the perfect tool to help deflect negative energy and guide you in a positive direction. A trusted friend, companion, or trained professionals are excellent options.
  • Ground yourself in a positive space. Existing in a constant flux of irritation, anxiety, anger, and sadness is corrosive to your mental, physical, and emotional health. Your frame of mind should align with the well-known Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
  • Perform an activity that is therapeutic. Personally, writing this entry is that therapy for me, as finding fellowship with other gentlemen experiencing the same struggle is calming and reassuring to me. For other individuals, it could an athletic activity. It could be immersing yourself in your favorite arts & crafts, music, photography, gardening, etc. The selected exercise(s) that can soothe and ease your spirit – do it!
  • Laugh. No really – laugh. Laughter stimulates the release of endorphins – hormones released within the body that grants a sense of euphoria. There’s nothing like a classic episode of Sanford & Son or Martin to get those endorphins flowing.
  • Beware of vices that only serve to satiate your carnal spirit. Embarking down this rabbit hole of excess can be self-destructive, and while temporarily pleasing, it is ineffective addressing the underlying source of your stress and the management thereof.
  • Get adequate sleep. Don’t deprive yourself of much-needed rest.
  • A gentleman can employ some small, simple tools that bring a touch of happiness or calm. There isn’t a morning or night that I fail to look at pictures of my children on my cell phone. Sometimes I just sit in darkness and listen to the sound of thunderstorms on my Google mini (it reminds me of sitting on the porch with my late grandmother during rainstorms). I like pops of color and pleasant scents, therefore, I revamped my whole workspace (pictured above) with flowers, colored notepads, and potpourri. Where do you extract small measures of joy?
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