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Work hard! And other lies we’re told about work – Skye Archer

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Everything I was taught about work growing up was bullshit. All of it.

Work hard and you’ll be rewarded, don’t make waves at work, just go along with the crowd (my mother’s favorite), if you keep quiet the bullies will eventually get bored and go away and stick with the same job until you retire, then collect your pension (my dad’s favorite)

Here’s 5 lessons I learnt in the real working world;

1. Life is a game. The office space in particular is a big game. Everyone plays and if you refuse to play you lose by default.

I wish I could lie and manipulate people more easily, this seems to come naturally to others. I guess that’s why it’s called office “politics”, I wear my heart on my sleeve and the truth on my face. I am transparent and upfront with people because I can’t be bothered to keep up pretences. I don’t treat the CEO of the company any different that I treat the cleaning lady. This makes me a complete loser in my field. Hierarchy dictates everything at my current firm, you suck up to this one and you speak down to that one. That’s how it works. Learn to play the game or forfeit.

2. Be selfish! Be completely and utterly selfish with your time and your life. I spent most of my 20’s and 30’s investing in relationships, I supported my significant others (and friends) in my life emotionally and financially during their foundation years, going to their band practice, going to their art exhibitions, their business networking lunches, picking them up when they felt disappointed, kicking their butt when their enthusiasm waned. And when those relationships collapsed, I was left with nothing but my stuff in a box, while they had thriving business and careers. And no, I was never paid back.

The worst is never receiving that same level of support, I once asked a boyfriend to read a one page article I wrote, when I asked him what he thought, he said he “couldn’t be bothered to read it” Lesson: be selfish, think of only yourself, ask yourself in every endeavor “what do I get out of this?”

3. Money is probably the most important thing in life. If you have your own money, you can make your own decisions, you can take care of yourself, you can choose to leave or choose to stay. Money is everything, it shouldn’t be but it is. Enough said.

4. Networking: getting a job is about who you know not what you know. I moved to London a few years ago, I don’t have a support system here, I started at the very bottom, even with an expensive degree under my belt. Nepotism is the foundation of most companies in London.

5. Be very careful who you confide in, I’ve had to leave a job because of bullying when I was 33, think the mean kids are only at school? Think again. I’ve had a personal secret I confided in a co-worker (and I thought friend) become public office knowledge overnight. Trust and Respect may go hand in hand but they are rarely in the office cubicle next to you.

I’d like to say things are changing, the world is changing, but we’re humans and humans (fortunately or unfortunately) are fairly predictable. You can change the system, the algorithm, the law, but you can’t change the fact that Johnny is the boss’s son and you’ll probably be taking orders from him someday. Qualifications or not.

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