Here is my current list of things I hate. It's an on-going project that simmers week after week until it reaches boiling point and I have to spend a column venting.
1. People who are not coachable. They get good advice and don't take it because they think they know better. Everyone has blind spots that a little advice can shed light on. If you don't know how to take advice, people will stop giving it to you. And then you will stagnate. And the people who tried to help you will think to themselves, “Good. I was pissed that he wasted my time.”
2. Three-page resumes. Two pages are okay. Sometimes. Like, if you've been in the workforce twenty years, or if you don't know how to enlarge the margins in your word processor. But anything more than two pages is someone who has lost all perspective. There is not enough that is important about your career to fill three pages. You give away to all potential employers that you are mired in detail.
3. The high and mighty. The people who say, “I'd never work for someone I don't respect,” or, “I'd never play office politics to get ahead.” Get real. If you want to be able to put food on your table you will need to learn to work for someone else, to do things a way you don't agree with, to do some work that doesn't matter to you. If you can afford to lose your job constantly in order to stay on moral high ground, then you didn't need a job to begin with.
4. The 8pm meeting. I don't care if you don't have kids. I don't care if no one in your whole company has kids. Each of you still needs to get a life. Just because you have no one sitting in bed waiting for a kiss goodnight doesn't mean you should be at work. Go to the gym. Go to a movie. Participate in aspects of life that do not have a P&L. Well roundedness will make you a more interesting person, and even if you don't care if you're interesting, your co-workers will, so you will do better at work if you leave work.
5. The economically alienated. Don't blow off the company party because you have season tickets to the Opera that night. Don't complain about your butler to people who don't even know what a butler does. It's one thing to have a pay scale as if you are god and the people who work for you are morons. It's another thing to shove that in peoples' faces on a daily basis. Act like you're part of the team or you won't have a team to act for.
6. The people who won't change. Each week I get letters from people who say they hate their job but they can't change it because they have so much seniority. Or they want to stay home with their kids but they don't have enough money. Look, unless you are totally impoverished (and almost no one writes to me from this category except maybe recently divorced moms who have never worked) then you can do it. Sell your house. Move to Kansas. Stop sending kids to camp. If you want something enough, you will figure out how to live on less money. If you don't make the change then admit to yourself that you want money more than – a job you love/full days with your kids/you fill in the blank — and stop complaining.
7. People who don't make lists. Usually these are people who can't face everything they want to do. Or they don't know what they want to do. Either way, making lists can change your life. Start small: Distributing a list of items to cover in a meeting makes you look like a leader. Then get big: Maintaining a list of career goals keeps you focused at work. If you love to make lists, try branching out. Like, make a list of lists you could write. Or make a list of things you hate. It's such a big relief.