How To Get Ahead In Your Career By Adopting 'The Zero Fudge Given' Philosophy


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Do you feel trapped and frustrated at work? Have you followed all the rules and done everything you were supposed to do, but now feel misled and left behind? Is there a little resentment bubbling up from within and it’s getting harder to suppress your rage?

Since we were little children, our parents, teachers and society inculcated us with lectures of how we are supposed to speak and act. It was always stay within your lane by acting polite and nice and doing what you were supposed to do. The problem is that 10, 20, or 30 years went by and you realized that their propaganda was not helpful. In fact, by listening to society’s indoctrination program, you feel cheated.

Deep down in your bones, you feel that you must do something now and, if you don’t, you’ll be stuck where you are for the rest of your career. The big challenge is that you are unsure of what to do next. There are many books and articles extolling the virtues of mindfulness, gratitude and all other sorts of new age mumbo jumbo designed to make you feel better about yourself.  I’m not against this; it just won’t work for you at this juncture. In full disclosure, over the last year, I have been attending yoga classes on a regular basis and studying the teachings of Buddhism. This would have been unthinkable for me years ago. Now, however, while building websites, jobs boards and apps for a new business, these activities are perfect for me to keep calm, focused and chill.

What you desperately need now is something different—a way to immediately restart the fire in your belly. You need an aggressive new philosophy to get you up and out of bed in the morning—something to give you an edge, fuel your ambitions and drive. Imagine how liberating it would be and what you could could accomplish if you had a fresh, new way of looking at your career and life.

Allow me to suggest the Zero Fudge Given (ZFG)* philosophy.  The ZFG attitude is really simple to adopt and put into practice. The system is to do what you want, not care about what others think or say and live your best life without worrying about conventional norms and restrictions. When used in your career, it will provide you with the confidence, swagger and mindset to help you succeed.   

I’ll walk you through how this attitude can change your life. Let’s start with your morning commute into the office. Invariably, there is always a guy sitting next to you, taking up half your seat, squishing out into the aisle, loudly sneezing into his hands and wiping it onto his pants. He then breaks out coughing uncontrollably and God forbid he covers his mouth before it’s all over you. Most people will suffer this indignity quietly without making a scene. They would be afraid to hurt the feelings of the brute sitting next to them and have the passengers look disapprovingly if something was said to the coughing and sneezing guy.

With your new ZFG mindset, you turn toward the guy and say, “I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. Here’s a handkerchief and throat lozenge. Maybe you could also scooch over a little bit too? Thanks! Also, you may not be aware, but all your uncovered sneezing and coughing will get everyone on this bus sick.  Could you please be a little more courteous?” Everyone on the bus— collectively—breathes a sigh of relief comforted by the fact that they can now make it to work without catching whatever plague the rude dude was spreading.

After you get off the bus, you head to Starbucks for coffee and a bagel. The line is long and the beanie wearing, tattooed and bearded baristas are joking with each other, just blatantly ignoring the restless and angry customers. When it’s your turn, you ask for a Venti with room for milk. The 90-pound coffee kid with purple hair and one of those earrings that stretch the earlobes repeats back to you, “Tall sweet with soy.” You give him a death glare and retort, “Buddy, I clearly ordered a Venti,” then give a pause to get his full attention. “If you weren’t fooling around, you would have gotten the order right. Why don’t you pay more attention?  Have you noticed that the line is out the door? Should I talk to the manager?” This is said in a flat but serious tone without anger or raising your voice. It denotes that you mean business. The people behind you suppress smiles and laughs and give you looks like you’re a hero for just saying what everyone else was thinking. You walk out feeling good that you took an unpleasant situation and stood up for yourself.

When you arrive in the office building, the security guard that checks you in every damn day for 10 years still acts like he doesn’t know you. Today, when he doesn’t look up, grunts for your ID card and barks for you to go through the metal detectors, call him by his name (which is on the badge hanging off his navy blue blazer), look right into his eyes (which may be a little uncomfortable since he is six feet six inches tall and weighing about 250 pounds) and confidently and calming say, “It’s Mr. Jack Kelly and I’d appreciate a little politeness and less attitude.”  Even though he is a scary giant, the guard needs the job, wont do anything to lose it and reluctantly acknowledges his rude, abrupt behavior and says, “Sorry, sir. It’s always nice to see you. Have a good day, Mr. Kelly.”

You have a meeting first thing so you go into your office, start the computer, get settled, check voice messages and emails and then head into the conference room. Usually, you’ll quietly endure the unending drivel that takes place. Today is different. When your annoying know-it-all co-worker—who actually knows nothing—starts pontificating pure nonsense, you call him out on it. You hit him with facts, figures and statistics that contradict his plans and you do it coolly and politely. Don’t gloat or smirk; just be happy with standing up for yourself and showing everyone that the emperor has no clothes on, but you do have sensible and logical answers that could help the company and improve your stature within the organization.

Think of how great it would be to apply ZFG to your career:

You practiced your elevator pitch, checked out the interviewers on LinkedIn, searched the internet for what’s new at the company and called a few friends who work there for advice. There is no need for worry and you are ready and excited.  You enter the interview brimming with confidence. It doesn’t phase you when the interviewers ask all-too-personal questions or speak in condescending terms. These are merely minor distractions. You have the inner peace of mind knowing that you possess the right background, experience and skill sets to get the job and excel once you are there. If you get the job, that is fantastic. If they don’t offer the position, it’s okay too since you wouldn’t want to waste your time working at place that doesn’t value you or recognize the potential that you offer. Whichever way the interview goes, it won’t dent your mental and emotional well-being as you believe that you will always find a way to succeed in the long run.

Did you ever fail to compete for a promotion because the other person is nice, has been with the company far longer than you and feel guilty challenging her? The thing is, everyone (including yourself) knows that you are the more appropriate and suitable candidate for the job. Next time, you’ll know better and will go for it and won’t make excuses to pass up a great opportunity.

Maybe you haven’t received a raise or promotion in years and have rebuffed recruiters because you felt guilty. You have a misplaced loyalty that is not reciprocated. With a new ZFG philosophy, knock on your boss’ door and ask why you haven’t received a promotion or raise. If the reasons are not valid (for example, the company could be hemorrhaging money and it may not be fiscally feasible), call them out on it and demand what’s fair and rightfully due to you.

If you are passed over for important assignments, don’t let it pass and stew over the slight. Ask why you are were not selected and sell them on why it should be you.

If there are better jobs open at other companies, don’t let your fear of the unknown hold you back. Go for big, audacious and career-boosting opportunities without reservations.

If your bonus is less than you believe is fair, don’t put up with it.

When there is a manager who yells, screams, berates and humiliates you in front of others, stand up for yourself and fight back.

Please don’t misinterpret my message. You don’t have to be an arrogant jerk about things.  It’s a mantra that you believe in yourself and know you have a lot to offer. Therefore, there is no reason to put up with the petty indignities that are heaped upon us each and every day. It’s not rude to champion your own cause when you believe that you possess the skills, intelligence and ability to do things that are going to other people. If you believe that you have done a great job, exceeded all expectations and are still not treated financially as well as other, lesser co-workers, there is no reason to accept that. While some people may believe this is an obnoxious way of thinking, it’s just the opposite. It’s having the confidence to be yourself and not accept the nonsense. Why should people with less to offer reap the rewards, when you don’t? With ZFG, not caring about what others think, standing up for yourself, speaking your mind and having the confidence to go after what you want is liberating and invigorating.

There is one caveat to be aware of: the sneezing guy on the bus could easily sit on you and squish you, and the Starbucks twerp may spit in your coffee the next time you are in the shop. Be aware that the burly security guard may wait lurking in the shadows for when you leave the office late one night and punch you in the face for embarrassing him in front of his guard friends. The weasley know-it-all co-worker in the meeting turned out to be the son-in-law of the CEO and it didn’t end well when he complained about you.

Even if these things happen (and the likelihood is that they won’t), it doesn’t matter. You will keep moving forward and can’t be stopped.

*Yes, I know I have substantially altered the original title of the philosophy, but some fudge is given when it comes to standard rules and practices.

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