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Overcoming our auto-petulance

Paul Glen | Nov. 10, 2015
We all are asked to do things we don’t want to do at work. If your reaction is to just not do them, you are in danger of harming more than just your career.

No, when you’re confronted with a task that you don’t want to do, accept that it’s OK to feel that way. That’s how you feel, and you should acknowledge it to yourself. What you don’t want to do is to think, “I don’t want to do that, so I’m not going to.” Instead, you have to train yourself to accept that, “I don’t want to do that, and I will do it.”

Can it really be that simple? Yes, it can. With that short thought, you are giving yourself permission to feel what you feel while recognizing that you don’t have to love doing something in order to do it. And once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll notice that you have a greater sense of accomplishment when you finish the thing you really didn’t want to do and move on to something you’d rather do. You’ll start seeing yourself as powerful and effective. And who doesn’t like feeling competent?

Beyond that, ask yourself how often you tell yourself, “I don’t want to do that, and I will do it.” If it happens with more than half of the tasks you face, you probably should think about finding a new job. But if you love 80% of what you do, admit it: You’re pretty lucky. There are lots of folks who hate every minute at work.

is the co-author of The Geek Leader's Handbook and a principal of Leading Geeks, an education and consulting firm devoted to clarifying the murky world of human emotion for people who gravitate toward concrete thinking. You can contact him at


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