Let’s Fix Work Episode 10 — Learned Helplessness at Work with Eric Barker

So far no one has challenged Laurie on her premise that work is broken. Until today. Eric Barker is the author of the bestselling book, Barking Up The Wrong Tree, and he believes that issues with managing people and organizing them to accomplish things is a perennial challenge. In fact, he doesn’t believe work is broken because it was never fixed in the first place. Dive in with Laurie and Eric in this stimulating conversation about the state of work.

  • Eric explains why he doesn’t think work is broken, and it’s because he believes it was never fixed in the first place. From technology changes to cultural changes, work is a perennial problem, and you might be inclined to agree with him on this point.
  • Aside from loving the title of his book, it was also Laurie’s favorite non-fiction book of 2017. She asks him a pointed question about success. There are many misconceptions, so you might want to check your own beliefs about what success at works really means. Is it the quality of work? Is it the quantity? Does success in one department look the same as success in another? What about from one manager to the next, and personality conflicts? Eric tackles these tough topics and more.
  • Eric shares something EVERY job-searcher should know when they go into an interview. You see, peer pressure isn’t just something that affects teenagers. It affects us at every age, and the most insidious part of it according to Eric is that we don’t even realize it.
  • What is ‘learned helplessness’ at work? It’s when employees don’t have a sense of agency and felt like they actually could make choices, even exercise a single choice. It turns employees into victims, and Eric gives some very solid steps you can take today to pull yourself up from that position.
  • Volunteering can change your life. It’s true, but why? Eric and Laurie talk about the different thing you can do, and it’s not just about helping others. It’s about changing your sense of worth and identity. You aren’t your job. You are a person and we, as people, can easily get caught in destructive loops. And don’t worry; you don’t need to volunteer for 50 hours a week. You can do it for as little as 2 hours and feel the effects.
  • The Venn Diagram of happiness and success definitely overlap, but not completely. Eric and Laurie investigate what it really means when the two overlap, and the tricky areas where they don’t. Does your work environment allow you to do what you do best? Or what if you’re happy with your job but not successful? What’s in store for you when you’re outside of Venn’s sweet spot?
  • Let’s get one thing straight – if you’re going to fix work, you’ll have to start by fixing yourself. This concept can get VERY woo-woo when you listen to some of the inspirational speakers out there. They think they can make change by ‘whispering a few words’ in your ears. Laurie isn’t big on that. Mindfulness and meditation are good, no doubt, but she and Eric have a deep discussion about what kind of self-help is really needed. By the way… it’s your fault.
  • You can’t underestimate the importance of relationships in work and life. So much of the unhappiness in the world is caused by loneliness. Eric lays out some scenarios. Do any of these sound familiar to you in your life? If you’re going to invest in anything, invest in relationships.

Listen to the Spotify Playlist! 

Find Eric:

Website/Blog

LinkedIn

Barking Up The Wrong Tree Book

 

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