They are watching you.
They are closer than you think.
And they are waiting…
To destroy your precious…
They are the Dream Crashers
Nope, it’s not some late Halloween post I wanted to write or a lame parody of Lord of The Rings (hum… my precious….). I’m talking about a sad phenomenon; I’m talking about the guys stuck in the matrix (man… what’s going on with me and all these movie references today !?!).
But seriously folks, I’m talking about people that don’t do things like you do but differently. They will do everything they can so you stop your behavior and get you back in line. You might not get what I’m talking about right now so let me share with you a little story of mine. It’s called…
What the F&*/ do you care about what I’m doing with my life?
I don’t mean to use the F word on this blog but this is exactly how I felt last week after my lunch. I was invited to some “special” lunch with some “special guests” at a “special conference”. All of this because my company wants me to feel “special”… ugh! In the corporate world, it is seen as a gift of a great importance when you are invited to sit with the great rulers of the tribe. I was actually more interested in listening to the conference (as the speakers are usually very sharp) than sharing the peace pipe with the great rulers ;-).
Anyways, we are sitting at the table and eating some green piece of… “something-fancy-I-guess” with 3 slices of tomatoes and 5 pieces of roquette (that’s French salad ) and the conversation begins… Everybody is obviously there to shine and show how great they are (I’m sure you have lived this at work too ).
In these conversations, I always step back and listen to people. I prefer to listen to them and watch how they act then produce my own show. But I’m always get into some discussions because I am fascinating… Nope, I’m not talking about my charisma… I’m talking about the fact that I’m one of those rare beasts who succeed in the corporate world while working 4 days a week…. Worse than that, I don’t crush 40 hours into 4 days… I literally work 30 hours per week (and to be totally honest, I leave at 3pm on Friday ).
So each time someone brings that topic up and asks me in front of everybody:
“So Mike, how do you like working 4 days a week?”
That’s the signal.
I feel them.
They were closely watching their prey and now they will jump on it and shred it to pieces…
“You work 4 days a week? Really?”
This question is either posed with disgust (as I must be a dumb, lazy ass who doesn’t want to work) or with pity (as I’m not good enough to work 40 hours a week like a “normal, devoted” employee).
Then, they start with more remarks such as:
“Don’t say it out loud, you know that HR doesn’t like this”
“You’re very lucky, I would never let my employees do so”
“I don’t believe in family-work reconciliation”
And my 2 favorites that I heard last week:
“Now that we are opening on evenings and weekends, such arrangements will disappear”
“Imagine how much you could have brought in if you were working that 5th day”
Both were coming from the same guy who I call the Grand Dream Crasher. In his opinion, there is nothing more important than working and succeeding. Where I see quality time with my family and flexibility, he sees laziness and a lack of motivation.
The dream crashers are pretty good to plant the seed of doubt in your mind. Since you are not doing what the crowd is doing, they will put the spotlight on you and make you doubt your decisions. They will question your actions and beliefs. Most people will stay polite and not say a word. Especially if you have recently started to implement changes in your life (such as eating healthier, working less, starting a side line or a business). It’s because you are doing something they don’t get.
I spend a whole section of my book, Escaping the Rat Race explaining things people don’t get and how to avoid to arguing with them. It’s very important to avoid arguing and explaining as you waste a lot of time and energy doing it and the dream crashers will never quit. Their beliefs in the corporate world are stronger than religious fanatics or Packers fans on Monday night football ;-). Worse than that, they will argue so much with you that you will start thinking that you are doing something wrong instead of simply doing something they don’t get.
The dream crashers will work numerous hours for their employer and they expect the same thing from others. It’s normal as if you want to succeed in the corporate world, you need to work ridiculous hours, be a performer and know the right people. I’ve concentrated in the latter 2 but I’ll never work a lot of hours ;-). Because it’s not worth it, not compared with time with my family and friends. Will you ever regret not staying late at work? I can tell you that you will regret missing your son scoring an important goal at soccer or playing hide & seek with your daughter or simply an intimate evening with your lover. This is what you will miss in the end.
And because you take measures to spend more time with people you like than people that pay you, you are brought down by these dream crashers. They can be co-workers but they can also be members of your family or friends. People usually like the denial stage and they certainly don’t want you to wake them up with your success. This is why bursting your bubble seems like the best option to keep their denial intact.
So what the F&*/ do you care about what I’m doing with my life?
Here’s the key: they should not care that you do things differently but they do. Don’t let people question your choices, especially when you know where you are going. Don’t let the dream crashers put you to sleep again and back in the matrix. You are better than that.
So it’s now your turn to not care and tell them to get lost!
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