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How To Fail At Work

Updated on November 13, 2015

Workplace Attitude Can Make You Fail

Your workplace attitude can hurt you. It can make you poor your whole life. Your attitude towards your job is crucial to your success and failure. Self-Sabotage. I work with people low on the employment ladder. These are either young people who are just getting started, older people who are slowing down, and those who just can't do better for themselves. There are also some in the middle who for whatever reasons have to take a job below what their work history would suggest.

I started in December 2007 with a group of 26. We went through 3 days of orientation together, and started working. Before our group even met, about a third of the applicants were sent packing, unable to pass the drug test. That is real self-sabotage.

It wasn't long before people started dropping out, less than a week. The work was tough, physically demanding. The pattern was similar, first someone misses a day, then comes back. Then they miss another day, or two, and come back. Then they miss again and come back just long enough to be told to clear their lockers and leave. People with no other job and kids to feed. They failed.

Why? Excuses ranged from being in jail, to having to take care of their kids, to being sick. All legitimate excuses. If it happens once.

But the people who come to work and do their jobs do it in spite of problems. The people who take time off always seem to have one more reason to take time off.

What's the difference? Attitude. I can see it day by day on the job. It isn't hard to figure out, working alongside someone, if he is going to stick it out or just quit and fail.

This job is no piece of cake. The pay is not high and the work is hard, ten or twelve hours of grinding labor. But the benefits are what you expect of any large, successful American company. Not too bad, with insurance, dental, vision etc. A man can make a decent living here for his family, if not a very high-class one. Chances to move on to less demanding work, and higher-paid positions are there, if you can just get through that first six-month trial period.

The difference is mental. I see guys in their 60s working along with young football jocks just out of high school. I see skinny young women doing the work, and grandmothers. Some people just don't want to work hard, even knowing that six months down the road they can get out and move up to better pay and easier (physically) work.

The cold reality is that there are people who work, and there are those who won't.

I met a guy today who I used to work with. He got fired recently for a second accident on the job. Fortunately, no one was injured, but with the powerful machines we use, it could easily have been deadly. The company, justly, has a strict accident policy, and a pattern of accidents results in firing, even for otherwise sterling workers.

I asked what he was up to. Today he was filing for unemployment, but he already had two part-time jobs, an assistant manager position at McDonald's, and as a volunteer fireman. He hopes to pass his tests and become a fireman full time. He is fifty-five. This guy, and others like him, may be down, but never out. Getting fired in the worst economy in a generation is a temporary setback, and maybe a step up to something better.

The last time he lost his job, in a plant closing, he took the opportunity to go back to school and get a degree.He certainly didn't fail, just because he lost his job.

What drags us down is inside us. So is what builds us up. Do you self-sabotage? I do, for some things and some times. In my relationship with my wife, I may say the wrong thing, knowing AS I SAY IT that it will have certain negative results.

I wrote a book recently. I am trying to find an agent to sell it. Writing was fun. Looking for a literary agent is annoying. I put off what are really simple, but boring tasks, hunting out agents on line, preparing the query letter, recording my results. Why hesitate? Maybe fear of rejection, lack of confidence in my writing ability? I don't really know, but I finally put my book togather myself, and it is for sale on Search for 'Iron Magic'. Do you self sabotage? Why, where and how?


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    • tmbridgeland profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Thanks sundaynews, for a really sweet comment. Life is good, if we take it that way.

    • sundaynews profile image


      6 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Self knowledge is the beginning of dealing with self sabotage I believe. I admire your grit and wish you good fortune which I believe you will make for yourself. I am working on the same struggle with the rest of humanity I guess, but I wanted to acknowledge your courage and insight along the way.

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 

      7 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      good tips - some old fashion - some new ones. Mind over mattress in the morning - then mind over matter all day! LOL

    • tmbridgeland profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Fulfillment comes from within, but it is real nice when other people notice...

      Happy people think happy thoughts, angry people angry thoughts. Control your own mind and you control your feelings.

    • kallini2010 profile image


      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you, tmbridgeland! I did not know this expression (obviously), so I misunderstood your comment. Now, I do. It is all a part of learning process, isn't it? Perfection does not exist and I am not looking for perfection.

      I am looking for fulfillment. We'll see...

    • tmbridgeland profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Hi. The idiom 'down pat' means to have something memorized, to be able to do something very well, even perfectly. It is a compliment. I speak English, Spanish and Japanese, though I rarely write in the latter two any more. For a third language you write English very well, better than most native speakers.

    • kallini2010 profile image


      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I do write about it. Coming up... My brain power is never down. I am more humanitarian, even though I had the aptitude for technical studies. You think writing in English when it is my third language is letting my brain down?

      Following your dream requires passion and courage, settling is... It is not for me.

      But it is always a choice.

      Good luck with your book,

    • tmbridgeland profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Can you write about these things? Sounds like you have the brain-power part down pat. :--)

    • kallini2010 profile image


      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I do sabotage myself. It is not my laziness, it is not knowing what I want and where I belong. Not the attitude, but motivation.

      I have moved far from my misery (the rock bottom position), but I am still very much in the FOG. Finding something that is not YET defined is mission impossible. That is why I am searching, while working in retail having Masters in Engineering and Bachelor in IT. Did not like the first all that much, hated the second. Where do I belong?

      Search is painful, but I am still going in the General Direction. LOL

      Writing at the moment helps me formulate the goals, the mission and the vision.

    • eculligan profile image


      7 years ago

      You couldn't of said it better. Sometimes loosing your job is a step up for the better. This happens to a lot of people. When your down and out, change can bring positive things your way. If I were a Manager it would be very difficult for me to fire an employee. I would feel more like the failure then the employee who got fired. I was always taught in the Military to never leave a brother behind. I deploy that attitude at work. If an employee isn't doing something the right way then they are probably not trained well or need coaching. Anyway, well written hub.

    • tmbridgeland profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Thanks, Judicastro. I'll look Quill up.

    • Judicastro profile image


      7 years ago from birmingham, Alabama

      If we are human we all self sabotage in one way or another. Welcome to hubpages, goodness you are cranking out the hubs. I work as a staffing specialist here in Birmingham, al. I staff mostly for warehouse and assembly. It truly has been an eyeopener. You are right on when it comes to attitude. When I have a young man come in and I see that he is hungry to work, has a good attitude I will bend over backwards to place him somewhere. Unfortunately they are not the majority. Regarding publishing if you haven't found Quill on hubpages I would suggest that you hunt him down and read his to publish or not to publish. This was a good hub btw.

    • susanmarion profile image


      7 years ago from Bunnell

      I used to self sabotage all over the place. It is much less these days. I also wrote a book that helped me past most of it.

      I self-published as the big publishing houses are not as powerful as they once were. Major book stores: "America's largest chain of high-street bookshops, Barnes & Noble, last night put itself up for sale in the latest sign of distress in the literary retailing world which has already seen the demise of the Borders book chain in Britain."

      Smaller publishing houses or self publishing may be the way to go. Either way, you have to get out there and market your books these days.

    • tmbridgeland profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      It was amazing to me the strong young men who couldn't do the job, and the little old ladies who could. All in the head, or maybe heart.

    • onegoodwoman profile image


      7 years ago from A small southern town

      I do to some degree, though not in my work ethics.

      Don't most of us? It's another form of vice, even if it manifests itself in modesty or in taking on too much.

      We have all had co-workers similar to yours!


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