Today’s best-seller lists are full of self-help books aimed at improving work attitude and performance. The problem is that it usually takes a great deal of effort and determination to implement the advice. Inspired by author Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I’ve come up with my own list of short cuts for the worker who has neither the time nor the ambition to strive for excellence.
1. Wait until tomorrow
Procrastinating is a simple yet highly effective way to avoid an unpleasant task. Sure, you may have to work extra hard one day because you’ve been goofing off all week. But look at how much you got to enjoy yourself during that free time!
2. Whine about everything
Nobody likes a habitual complainer, and that is the reason you can use this strategy to your advantage. By complaining about everything from the break-room coffee to your customer’s looks, you make sure that people treat you with kid gloves. For example, do you think your boss will assign you a difficult client if he thinks you’ll make the poor soul miserable with your constant griping? This means people will eventually stop giving you tough assignments because they dread having to put up with your complaining.
3. Let others make the important decisions
Avoiding responsibility can pay off big time. Here’s an example: You’ve been told to assist on a crucial group project. What should you do? Absolutely nothing. If the project succeeds, you can bask in glory along with your resentful and much more deserving team members. If the project fails, you can avoid blame by truthfully stating, “I had nothing to do with that decision.”
4. Keep your expectations low
This bit of wisdom can apply to all aspects of life, not just to your career. There are few things as disappointing as striving hard for a goal only to come up short. You’ll never have to worry about this happening if you learn to settle for less than the best.
5. Don’t help co-workers
The No. 1 reason why you shouldn’t help your fellow employees: One of them could wind up getting a promotion that should be yours. Your fellow wage slaves will get the picture after you turn down the first few requests for help. At the same time, don’t let being unhelpful stop you from taking credit for others’ work.
6. Overstate the difficulty of the assignment
Insist from the start that you can’t meet your job deadline with the time and resources allotted. Keep on saying this even though you actually have plenty of both. Your supervisor will think that you’re a miracle worker if you get the job done on time … or at all!
7. Do only what is asked of you (and not one thing more)
Following this principle will let you go home at 5 o’clock while those other poor suckers at your company are still slaving away. If somebody asks you to do something that sounds like extra work, answer with the time-honored words: “That is not in my job description.”
Some of us are never going to be super-successful no matter how hard we try. There are far more followers than there are leaders in the workplace and, guess what? There’s nothing wrong with that. I’ll leave you with the immortal words of wisdom I once saw on a postcard: “Success is a journey, not a destination. So stop running.”