Monday, August 16, 2010

Do you have an Escape Hatch at Work?

Everyone’s buzzing about Steven Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who took flight down an emergency hatch, beer in hand, as he presumably quit his job.

I say presumably, since now that cooler heads prevail, he seems to want his job back.  Not that you can believe everything you read!
If the internet buzz and office cooler conversations are any indication, Slater seems to have become the hero of working people everywhere, who, on the down low secretly wish they could jump out of their jobs the way Slater apparently jumped out of his.

For a little while, I imagine, employees everywhere dared to dream of the exhilaration and sense of freedom that must come from being able to get on an intercom system and vent about your company, your boss, your co-workers and / or your customers…before making a grand exit.

Many are thinking.."Wow! How empowering that must be."

That is, until you wake up the next day and like the characters in the movie The Hangover, you try to retrace your steps and figure out what really happened. Yes, of course the world might on your side during your 15 seconds of fame, and that may make you feel really good.  Then slowly it might set in... I don’t have a job AND there is a 9.5% employment rate AND I now have a not-so-nice reputation in my own industry … making it hard for me to go back to the work I claim I love.

So I thought that while we continue to live vicariously through Slater all of us should have our own escape hatches at work, with much with less drama, of course.

Here are some possibilities for when workplace stress is getting the best of you:

1. Leave the office and go get an ice cream cone or yogurt or something “not-so-good-for-you”. Sometimes all we need is a taste of childhood to feel adult again.
2. Have a buddy at work, on whom you can rely to talk you down off the ledge. A quickie phone call or hallway meeting may be all you need.
3. Keep a copy of your child’s college tuition bill taped inside your top drawer. An orthodontics or summer camp bill could work as well as a mortgage statement or a photo of the new car in your future. Whatever your motivation, now is the time to remember it.
4. Take a few minutes, and go outside if you can.  Go sit in your car. Listen to your favorite station - Music, sports or talk radio. Whatever floats your boat!
5. Finally, as my mother would say, and this has worked for me in the past, pull down your glass curtain and squeeze your toes in your shoes…and release. Aaahh! No one but you will know that you just took a mental vacation. 

You might find any little activity like these may be all you need to do to gain some perspective.

The goal of course is to find out what works for you in those tiny moments when bad judgment, if unchecked, could get the best of you.

I caution you, of course, that this is not a long term solution and unchecked workplace stress can cause irreparable damage. Steven Slater knows that first hand. Then again, you never know, this might be just the time he needed to work on his bestseller – A Beer and an Escape Hatch; How to Keep your Career on Cloud 9!

Read more about Workplace Stress!

11 comments:

eve said...

I like 1 and 5. Ice-cream and mom's advise always seems to work

Ania said...

That is great post

Marianna said...

Hi Marcia,

This much-publicised event is a very real example of what happens when stress goes unchecked.

One's resilience becomes depleted, so that it takes less and less to push one over the proverbial "edge".

There are many reasons for why Steven did what he did, which many of us can understand.

With the increasing pace of our world, financial and employment insecurities and family concerns, to name just a few, the responsibility lies with the individual to gain as much awareness, knowledge and practice in transforming stress, so that they can recover as quickly as possible(be more resilient) to the the times when life is not going well.

Donald said...

I may not have jumped out an escape hatch but I have walked off a job during the busiest part of the day... laughing at my boss on the way out. Too bad the joke was on me- took months to find another position, one which he had no influence.

Live and Learn... the hard way.

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Austin Jobs said...

Every time you muster the stregth to voluntarily leave, you are making a decision for yourself. It almost always ends in a better situation.

BullsEyeCareers said...

Austin Jobs...
You are right..almost always (;>

BullsEyeCareers said...

Donald,

It's good you landed on your feet. Sometimes we jump out of the frying pan into the fire.

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