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Work Daze: Mistaken Identity

We all make mistakes, or do we?

When it comes to doing your job, you’re famous for doing everything right. You’re perfect, and that’s why everyone at work hates you. (Well, it’s not the only reason, but it is one we can discuss in public.)

While your faultless record is admirable, there could come a time when making a mistake would not be a mistake. According to Sara McCord, in a posting on, there are “4 Mistakes You’re Still Allowed to Make (No Matter How Experienced You Are.)”


If you didn’t read it, you made a mistake, but a mistake that can be corrected. Pull up a stool, pop on a dunce cap and let’s review.

Mistake No. 1 is “Caring Too Much.” If all you’re doing is working, that is considered a mistake. What you are supposed to be doing is “achieving work-life balance.”

Since you are fundamentally unbalanced, it could be difficult for you to understand that there are people who want to do well at work, but also have a fulfilling life outside of their jobs.

Crazy, huh?

Your accomplishment is achieving a work-life balance within your job. Only in your case, you’ve definitely tilted towards life, if life can be defined as gossiping, snacking and goofing-off. Which, of course, it can.

Your less enlightened co-workers, when the fulcrum tips too far in the direction of work, believe they are making a mistake. Sara McCord disagrees.

“Back-burnering the rest of your life isn’t ideal; and without a doubt, it isn’t sustainable, either,” she writes, “But it’s not always the ‘wrong’ thing to do.”

If you feel the need to regain a better balance by doing more work, look around you. The key reason your fellow workers are staying after 5 p.m. and working weekends is to make up for the work you’re not doing. They’re sacrificing for the good of the team, and it makes them feel special. If you were to start doing your share, they would lose that sense of moral superiority.

It simply wouldn’t be fair to take that away from them.

Mistake you should make No. 2 is “Trying Something Bold (and Failing.)”

Accord to McCord, if you don’t break out of your comfort zone, “you’ll also never know just what you can achieve when you push it.”

I agree. You’ve tried and failed many, many, many times before, but it is always at the end of an assignment that everyone realizes you’ve screwed the pooch.

Instead of sticking to the tried and true, screw things up right at the start. By making your blunders at the beginning of a project, you won’t waste time before screwing up your next assignment.

Now that’s efficiency.

“Blowing Off Your Five Year Plan” is mistake No. 3.

“It may seem like a mistake to change course (or careers) midstream,” writes McCord. “Sometimes, it’s the very best thing for you.”

By taking a hiatus from your plan, the argument goes, it might “take you longer to achieve your new definition of success, but you’ll know you’ll be happier when you get there.”

There could be some truth in this. While some would view it as a mistake, you should review your current five-year plan, which gives you five years to actually write a five-year plan.

Changing from a five-year plan to develop a five-year plan to a 10-year plan to develop a five-year plan could be a real game-changer.

And it would give you five more years to goof off.

“Putting Your Faith in Others” is mistake No. 4. For people who prefer doing their own work their own way, or, in your case, not doing your own work in your own way, the idea of giving up control can feel like a bad mistake.

Yet, giving up the reins can help you see the benefit of “learning from others and following someone else’s good ideas.” For example, you could learn innovative new ways to avoid work, or how to pick up nasty gossip about your managers that you can use to blackmail them in the future.

As your company’s No. 1 worst employee, you may think you can coast, but trust me, with diligence and persistence, finding new ways to avoid work could make you much, much worse.

Mistake No. 5, which our author mistakenly did not take into consideration, is reading this column. It’s too late now, I’m afraid, but there is still time to not take any of my advice.

That’s a mistake for which there is no upside.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at


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