Drink the Darn Kool-Aid: In Defense of Enthusiasm at Work

by Vault Careers | May 10, 2012

Work got you down? Try a nice, refreshing sip of office Kool-Aid!

"Drinking the Kool-Aid" (or buying into the corporate rah-rah spirit) usually has negative connotations: that the enthusiastic employees are the dim ones, who can't think for themselves, or mistakenly think the company has their best interests at heart.

But even if your employer is the bloodsucking kind, it may truly be in your best interests to believe in them.

I know, I know—but hear us out. Just like forgiveness can be an unpopular idea, supporting a company you resent (because your boss is mean, or your benefits stink, or your HR department doesn't like you Casual Friday attire) is tough medicine to swallow, but it may the best choice for your overall health.

Less about jumping on a bandwagon, "drinking the kool aid" and taking a positive attitude toward your work and your company can be about letting go of emotional baggage that only makes your life more difficult. It doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong all the time; your own mental and emotional reserves will benefit from ignoring the petty stuff.

Here’s how sipping from the corporate punch bowl can up your quality of life:

1. You'll conserve energy

Consider all the time and energy you expend wondering if your boss is secretly trying to micro-manage you out of a job, or your assignments are stupid, or your team members are brownnosing. Now imagine for a second that you let all of those thoughts go. Feel lighter?

By simply committing yourself—to the task at hand, to the company's mission statement, to your team's success (regardless of who takes a little more credit than you for it), you'll ditch a lot of happiness and energy drains.

2. You'll do better work

Hopefully, you believe in what your company has to offer at least a little. What's your company's mission statement? Is it yours? If not, modify it and make your own.

By clarifying your purpose in the company, you'll have an ideal to hold tight to on bad days. It will help remind you of what your job truly is if you start losing direction, and prompt you to provide great service on lazy days. 

3. You'll avoid toxic coworkers

Misery loves company. Don't love it back. Even if your morale is low, avoid prolonged gossip sessions at the water cooler about how awful your managers are or how lame that fundraiser's going to be. First, you'll be grouped in with the negative people, in higher ups' minds.

And second, once you bond with the naysayers, you may find it hard to break away from them on days when you're feeling good about your job. Commit to positivity from the get go, and you'll have a reserve of good energy for low days, and greater things to aspire to on the good ones.

4. Your game face will always be on

Forget right or wrong—it's difficult to be two-faced. Spouting flowers and rainbows to your boss, then mocking the company behind his or her back is a dangerous (and stressful) game to play. Even if you don't get caught, trying to please your fellow disgruntled peers with sarcastic impression then whipping around and producing earnestly good work takes a lot of energy.

And let's face it—you're just one "reply all" mishap away from getting busted. Better to show the same face to everyone.

5. You'll feel better

Maybe your job isn't perfect. Maybe your boss is a pain. Maybe you're not challenged enough, or you'd like to be making better use of your skills. Well, okay. But are your higher purposes served in telling yourself the "I hate my job" story?

It's great to aspire to bigger things, and by all means, go for them. But meanwhile, respect the role you have, and look for the good in it. Forgive your job and your company for not being everything you dreamed of, and you might start to see some very real possibilities in it.

Sure, it takes more effort and a greater commitment  than "my job sucks." But making the choice every day to do your job to the best of your ability and believe in what you do is the only way to transcend a "job," and find yourself in a career.

--Cathy Vandewater, Vault.com


Read More:
4 Tips to Help You Leave Work Earlier
How to Make the Most of a "Dead End" Job
To Tell the Truth: Is Honesty the Best Policy on a Job Interview?

Filed Under: Workplace Issues


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