Remember Office Space? Remember Peter and his fateful therapy session? The one where his therapist died tragically, leaving him trapped in a permanent state of hypno-induced disregard for his boss's approval? Remember the hilarity that ensued? Of course you do. We all do. You don't have to fall into any specific demographic or career category to appreciate the greatest work-themed movie in the history of the universe. And if you're like most of us, this playful but poignant theatrical romp, circa 1999, left a lasting impact on your relationship with working life. Here are few of the lessons we learned.
1. Just Tell the Truth
It's easier that way. For you, for the company that hires you, for the boss who controls your life, and for the weird dude covered in flair who happens to be standing in your way when you're trying to talk to Jennifer Aniston. Life is short. Speak your mind. If your boss knows how to run a company and cares about doing it well, he or she will tune in and listen. If not, then it doesn't matter. You did your part.
2. Stand up for who you are.
Michael Bolton: At least your name isn't Michael Bolton.
Samir: There's nothing wrong with that name.
Michael Bolton: There was nothing wrong with it… until I was about 12 years old and that no-talent clown became famous and started winning Grammys.
Samir: Why don't you just go by Mike instead of Michael?
Michael Bolton: No way! Why should I change? He's the one who sucks.
Don't let the world around you decide what you want, what you call yourself, or how you want to be.
3. Decorate your bedroom with office furniture.
We get the point, and we understand the ironic statement being made there. But we have to admit: it's kind of cool.
4. Don't tell people they have a case of the Mondays.
Just don't. And while you're at it, if you bring in cake, make sure the ratio of people to cake isn't too high.
5. People skills matter.
Tom Smykowski: I already told you: I deal with the customers so the engineers don't have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?
If you know how to deal with people, kick back and relax. Go ahead and take out that big mortgage. Your job is safe forever.
6. Express yourself. For real.
Joanna: Why don't you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?
Manager: I thought you said you wanted to express yourself.
Joanna: I do want to express myself. (Flips him off). And I don't need 37 pieces of flair to do it.
Sometimes a simple non-verbal gesture sends the clearest message.
7. Watch out for Fridays.
Bob Slydell: We find it's always better to fire people on a Friday. Studies have statistically shown that there's less chance of an incident if you do it at the end of the week.
This may or may not be accurate, but there's another truth underlying this statement: Research, focus groups, market testing, and psychological studies control more of your working life than you may realize.
8. When all else fails, you can always light the building on fire.
9. Let go of the illusion of control.
Michael Bolton: Samir and I are the best programmers they got at that place. You haven't been showing up, and you get to keep your job.
Peter Gibbons: Actually, I'm being promoted.
Sometimes showing up on time and doing what you're told can help you reach your goals. Sometimes it can't. Or it won't. Or it just doesn't, for reasons that have nothing to do with you or the quality of your work. This is why it's never a good idea to place your career climb at the center of your life. Build the foundations of your happiness on something a little more stable.
10. Remember: Anything can happen.
Tom Smykowski: (in a body cast) If you hang in there long enough, good things can happen in this world. I mean, look at me.
If you love your job, hold onto that feeling. It's rare. And if you don't love your job, don't be afraid to let go. Turn to the resume creation and job search resources at MyPerfectResume and take your life in a new direction.