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When You Give Too Much At Work

We have all heard this slogan "Nice guys finish last". It often conjures an abrasive feeling. Generally speaking, being a kind human will get you further in your career than being abrasive. However, there are ways in which we give too much of ourselves, or we focus far too much on being well-liked and agreeable. This hyperfocus on popularity in the workplace will trip us up, and it has no place in your career if you wish to find success or contentment in the office. This article was inspired by a lecture by clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson. The YouTube channel Motivation Madness has a fantastic video of one of his lectures that sums this concept up beautifully. Sure... in any career path, it is important to fulfill the duties and expectations of others to an extent. At the same time, you must have a clear vision and set of goals for what you want out of your career in order to find true success and/or fulfillment. If you want to see a sharp increase in your level of success and growth as a professional in any field, a people-pleasing mindset has no place in your toolkit. Focusing too much on being well-liked will stunt your professional development and eventually leave you unsatisfied in whatever career path you have chosen.

How Can "Giving Too Much" Stunt My Growth?


People who try to be agreeable in life and in the workplace are typically well-liked. Contrary to popular belief, this does not always equate to success. In fact, people who are too agreeable are often stunted in their careers. We only have so much energy in a given day. If you focus all of your daily energy on being agreeable or well-liked, your own goals and ambitions end up falling by the wayside. Here are two specific ways that being too agreeable can trip you up: 1.) You may not know what you want. If you are too agreeable, you may end up spending so much of your own energy identifying and fulfilling the needs of others, that you never end up clearly defining your own goals and needs. If you are someone who does not know what you want out of their career, this may be a reason why. Be aware of this in your day-to-day and try to identify ways in which you can dial back your need to please everyone around you. You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish if you forge ahead with less regard for what others think of you. Just remember that there is a balance to this. Solidify your priorities and goals, and move forward with them without being an ass about it.


If you want a good resource, I highly suggest reading "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" by Mark Manson. I have talked about this book before because while it may be abrasive and seemingly counterintuitive to some, it does not pull punches and it gets straight to the point. When you give less of a f*ck about what others think of you, and more of a f*ck about what you want to accomplish, your dreams line up far easier. (Image Source) 2.) Even if you know what you want, you do not pursue it. You might know precisely what you want but for some reason, you have never attacked it. One of the biggest crushers of dreams is kneeling entirely to the expectations, needs, or desires of others. This is not to say you need to be entirely selfish to get what you want out of life, but there needs to be some level of self-management that allows you to work on your own needs as well. As mentioned before, balance is absolutely necessary here. This is a spectrum and there are of course lighter examples out there, but here are some pretty stark examples of kneeling too deeply to the needs of others.

  1. Never pursuing the major you wanted in college because your parents expect something "Better" out of you.

  2. Avoiding the pursuit of a better career opportunity because "What will happen to my team if I leave?" or "This company has treated me so well... I can't do that to them."

  3. Staying in an extremely unhealthy relationship because "We have been through too much together." or "What will happen to them?"

Another great example comes from artists; some of the most successful artists (musical or otherwise) forged their own path in a unique way that did not "fit the mold." If they had stuck with tradition and tried to please everyone around them, do you think they would have created their own style? Do you believe they would have reached mastery if they had made everyone happy with their art? No! To do anything of value, you will probably upset a few people along the way. The truth is that others will often have their own expectations of you. If you spend all of your time and energy fulfilling those expectations, when will you find time to fulfill your own?

“The results of my work don't have much to do with me. I can only be in charge of producing the work itself. That's a hard enough job. I refuse to take on additional jobs, such as trying to police what anybody thinks about my work once it leaves my desk.” Elizabeth Gilbert,Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Your Needs Matter

In order to pursue professional development, you will need to steel your resolve and focus less on the needs of others. There is still plenty of room for compassion, and lending a helping hand when it is needed. The true value of this change in mindset comes when you are able to pursue your own needs first, and step outside of that need to help others when necessary; not the other way around. When you are able to strengthen this skill you will find that crushing your goals with style is far easier.

Take care of yourself and have fun while doing it. Working on, and investigating yourself CAN be fun if you approach it with that mindset. Go forth and kill it today. Carpe freaking Diem! Cheers, Ryan

--- I am a life coach in the Boulder/Denver area and offer phone/zoom coaching sessions. I also offer free consultations, so if you want to learn more, click HERE to get in touch. - Subscribe if you like this content and want to see more of it. - Check out more of my fresh content on social media (links below) Social Links: Main Website Instagram Facebook Linkedin #professionaldevelopment #Emotionalintelligence #Personaldevelopment #Careerdevelopment

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