5 Real World Rules of the Workplace

If this is you, listen up. Are you the Debbie Downer of the office, that unhappy coworker with hunched posture sitting inside her cubicle, head in hands, mind reeling around frustrating tasks, watching the slow ticking clock (Seriously, though, how is it only 10:50 a.m.?)— and not really working? Then it’s time for some inspiration—it’s time for a 180 in attitude.

Playing this terribly depressing, hopeless role isn’t working, but it can be just that, a role, something you swap out for a new one—maybe the lead character as the star employee. It takes embracing accountability and taking responsibility for your own job satisfaction; Cy Wakeman shows you how to play that part in her new book, The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace (Jossey-Bass, April 2013).

The workplace consultant shares her candid advice on how to boost personal value and be happier at work. Bottom line—she’ll tell you what’s working and what’s not, and that it’s all up to you to thrive and be happy at work. Less-than-satisfying days in the office are typically attributed to more work for less people, 24/7 workloads thanks to email and other overwhelming factors. People say they are not happy at work, but they are blaming everything around them.

“It has become normal for work to suck,” Wakeman writes. “Many employees feel unrecognized, under-rewarded, and taken advantage of. They want me to understand the scale has tipped—and not in their favor. Their jobs have officially become undoable by the average human being.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. That dissatisfaction can be transformed by taking control and changing your mindset. Take control over yourself and use that power to get what you want, to improve your work experience and reach your true potential.

Split into two parts, the book analyzes the reader’s current performance to their future potential. Wakeman outlines five reality-based rules to move from an unsatisfied employee to a happy and successful one—a productive worker, a team player, an engaged and valuable employee.

Don’t hope to be lucky. Choose to be happy. “The root cause of everyone’s dissatisfaction is lack of Personal Accountability and lack of understanding of accountability’s true connection to both results and happiness… You will get results when you stop complaining and blaming and focusing on what is happening ‘to’ you, and focus instead on what you can do within your current reality, and with your current challenges, to compete, deliver, and to succeed.”

Ditch the drama. “You can fight your reality and create drama, or you can radically accept what is happening and work within that reality to succeed anyway.”

Buy-in is not optional. Your action, not opinion, adds value. “If you get wholehearted, and commit to action over opinion, you will be on the leading edge of accomplishing your company’s goals.”

Change is opportunity. “You need to start anticipating and capitalizing on the opportunity inherent in change, and moving toward it quickly and happily… It’s called progress and innovation—it’s how you add value and how you get to be first to market.”

Succeed anyway. “Your reality is not the reason why you can’t succeed. It is the circumstances under which you must succeed.”

By taking these personal accountability tips into your own life and your own cubicle, you are prepared to go to work tomorrow a new employee with increased value and an energizing love for your job. Goodbye, Debbie Downer.  


Jessica Krampe is the digital managing editor for SUCCESS.com. A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, Jessica has worked for news, entertainment, business and lifestyle publications. Outside of the daily grind, she enjoys happy hours, live music and traveling.

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