Common Career Expectations That Are Beyond Unrealistic

In every business  I can think of each generation of workers makes new mistakes.  Consider science, medicine, business, teaching, almost any field, participants are inventing new mistakes.   Not so, in forming their career assumptions.  Here are some of the classics which recur generation after generation although always untrue.

unrealistic career expectations

Unrealistic Career Expectations

1. Getting along with people is as important as hard skills. This has never been true.  Even sales people need hard skills.  How many positively misanthropic managers, not to mention CEOs, succeed despite an inability to get along with people in general?  Does anyone revere Steve Jobs for his interpersonal skills  rather than his inventiveness?  People skills are icing, they are not the cake.

2.  Hard work trumps talent every time.  I hear this from clients age 21 to death.  They honestly believe they can out-work anyone including someone who has a natural talent for whatever both are doing. It’s not true. You can practice singing 12 hours a day but without talent you’ll be an exhausted failure.  Could this be the reason career planners harp on people finding their talents and preferences and turning them into jobs?  Consider people who believe they have a talent for writing but don’t write.  Does that mean they lack talent?  It doesn’t matter if talent isn’t married to preference.  How many basketball players were taller than Michael Jordan in his prime?  Wasn’t he still the greatest basketball player of his era?

3.  On-the-job learning can be compressed into a year or less.   It is impossible to predict within months how long it will take one individual to completely master a job.  It isn’t trying harder so much as learning about a boss’s expectations, the organizational culture, what defines success in that environment, what is essential versus merely desirable.  The list goes on.  When someone considers him/herself to have mastered a job because the first anniversary has passed, that person is insufficiently self-critical.

4.  Feedback and recognition are included in the job.  Has anyone who ever worked for any organization ever suffered from too much feedback or recognition?  If so, that person should come forward and share what he/she did to cause that to happen.  I don’t need to go more than an inch out on a limb to say that people are emotionally insatiable.  Unless you provide your own feedback, recognize your own work, and court recognition from others you will be unfulfilled. and your career will stall.

5.  Enemies don’t occur, you “make” them.  Since when have bullies needed catalysts?  If it would make someone happy to make fun of you he or she may do it.  It may take months to figure out you are being bullied.  You may spend hours trying to figure out why.  Here is one immortal phrase to commit to memory:  “Why doesn’t matter.”  You could have quashed the bully and protected your mental health if you hadn’t gotten caught up in the “why.”  The next time someone threatens your interests deal with it immediately.

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Filed under Boomers, Career Strategies, Current Research, Millennials and GenX