Personal Brands: Are You a Job Addict? | Personal Branding Blog - Dan Schawbel

Addiction is pandemic, even though it seems to go against our instinctive desire to survive. Or maybe it’s that some of us are focused on surviving, and not thriving.

Our natural instinct to survive is so transcendent and ubiquitous; Mark Burnett made billions because he named a television show after it. We like to watch people battle to survive. Our brains’ mirror neurons fire as we lock into the adversarial challenges. We experience firsthand the tension, fear, triumph and reward; or the tension, fear, failure and loss.

Compelled to survive

That’s why certain sports, which most of us never engaged in, are so compelling. We like NASCAR and hockey, or anything where someone could get killed or seriously injured in an instant.  The hairpin turn and the body check make these “collision sports” as opposed to “contact sports” perversely compelling. We sigh with relief when the driver climbs out of his car, which is upside down and shooting flames. We cheer when the forward recovers from the blow of a defenseman’s elbow to the face. And we exalt their perseverance, when they return to the game – often to experience exactly the same injuries.

With so much of our brained trained for survival, you’d think our desire for well-being would be a reflex, like when the doctor hits your knee with a tiny hammer. Who doesn’t welcome that uncontrollable, gratifying little kick response?

Could be we’ve all watched too many crashes, because success is not a reflex or an instinct for most of us.

Success is a decision.

Success is not a spectator sport.

Success starts with your showing up ready to play. Batteries full with all the right cords and chargers on hand.

Success at work is a collection of success habits.

Go to bed early (or late depending on your shift). Do laundry so you have clean clothes. Think before you speak so you have a clean mouth and a positive outlook. Meet your boss or co-workers with a pen and pad so when people tell you what to do: you write it down. And, do it! Give instructions with kindness. Make sure you deliver support or training at a pace people can use to gain mastery.

You are building your personal brand with every step – and every mis-step.

As a career coach and employer, I’m knocked off my socks watching people destroy the chances they are given. And, in this economy one chance may be all you get for awhile.

Personal Brands: Are You a Job Addict?

Some people are addicted to a cycle of optimism, effort, carelessness and defeat at work. You are a job addict if your work history looks like a patchwork quilt of bright beginnings followed by dark swathes of being misunderstood, underutilized and shut out of all the good meetings.

Need a quick quiz to tell if you are a job addict? It’s simple.

Which response would your past employers say to a prospective one:

a) “All I can do is verify the dates of this person’s employment and compensation.”

b) “We were sorry to see this person leave, because they were such a terrific employee. But, we understand that they deserve greater opportunity than we can provide here.”

Consider you may need help. Whomever you get to listen, don’t let anyone tell you that it’s okay to do what comes naturally – if what you are doing is chronically self-defeating.


Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen.

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