“Low Expectations Are the Secret to Success”

A friend of mine said that to me recently. It was a joke. Of course it was a joke. But in every good joke lies a kernel of truth.

Yeah, if you set the bar low enough, you’re bound to be able to get over it. If all you want from life is a hovel with a mattress, a travel radius of less than 50 miles, a minimum wage job that doesn’t challenge you, and a spouse that challenges you even less, then the odds are quite good that you’ll succeed.

And that is a form of success, I suppose, if you are happy. If you are content and have no regrets, then you are right up there at the summit of humanity. Congratulations.

But maybe we should stop focusing so much on succeeding. Humans seem to be obsessed with the concept. No one wants to be a loser.

I think, though, that epic fails are highly indicative of people who are trying the hardest. People who take risks are usually the ones who care the most. Sticking your neck out means you have a much better view of an expanded horizon. It also means you’ve learned. Oh, how you’ve learned.

I’m not suggesting that you should set the bar so high that you’ll never have a chance. We can’t all be king of the world. But stretch yourself. Dream bigger than you think you can or should. Take chances. Have adventures. Live.

mountain climbing

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Loving My Thankless Job

A friend of mine recently pointed out that I have a thankless job. As a bridgetender, I’m always shocked to discover the vast number of people who don’t even know I exist. People tend to assume that all drawbridges are automated. They don’t realize how lucky they are that most aren’t. People can easily die on drawbridges. We’re talking about millions of pounds of steel and concrete in motion. You really want someone there who can think independently; someone who actually cares about your safety.

But oddly enough, I’ve never really thought my job was thankless. Actually, thanks has never been something I’ve even considered one way or another. Granted, it’s a rare boater who thanks me for opening the bridge for them. Pedestrians and commuters certainly don’t thank me for slowing them down. In fact, I’ve had things thrown at me more than once.

There was one vessel captain in Florida who would give us gift certificates to Red Lobster every Christmas. That made me feel good, but I looked at it as a delightful surprise. It is nice to be appreciated, but for me it’s not a requirement.

When I think of what I need for job satisfaction, thanks doesn’t enter into it for me. I’m sure the criteria is different for everyone, but for me to be satisfied with my job, the thing I need more than anything else is to be left alone to work within clearly defined parameters. I do not thrive on drama. I don’t go in for office politics. I prefer to work independently. Of course, adequate compensation and benefits are quite nice as well. If I were only able to flourish in a career that gave me frequent opportunities for positive feedback, I wouldn’t have lasted for two days as a bridgetender.

I think one of the best pieces of advice I could give to someone who is making job satisfaction a priority is to find out what you need to feel content in the workplace, and then seek out a career field that will provide those things to you. There’s no right or wrong answer. Only you can answer that question for yourself.

What would make you happy? Being a caregiver? Producing things with your hands? Being creative? Once you know what rocks your world, you’ll know what to do. Ignore what your inner voice is urging you toward at your emotional peril.

the wedding photographer
Some of us actually LIKE working in the shadows.

Bother Me Not

Have you ever noticed that some websites seem to deliberately make it difficult for you to contact them? They either hide their “Contact Us” tab, befuddling all but the most determined, or don’t have one at all, or they make you jump through 20,000 hoops or they only provide their address and phone number, expecting you to take that extra step to get in touch, and banking on the fact that most of us won’t bother. This is HORRIBLE customer service.

It’s also an idiotic way to run a company. Often your customers will spot problems with your website long before you will, and can suggest ways to improve its functionality. Being responsive to these suggestions increases customer satisfaction and repeat business. Many’s the time I’ve simply gone elsewhere when I’ve bumped up against a site that isn’t user-friendly. If your site is full of dead links and bad grammar, the public won’t take you seriously.

I would love to be able to contact Facebook. I’ve had these two complaints/suggestions for years. But they don’t want to hear from me.

  • Issue one: Their message drop down menu. Have you ever clicked on the “other” option? Check it out. You might be surprised. I once found a year and a half old job offer sitting in there. They need to get rid of the “other” category and just let all your messages be all your messages. I’m a big girl. I can figure out what to delete.
  • Issue two: They need a place where you can write helpful descriptions about people on your friends list that will be visible only to you. Often I can’t remember why someone is there and how I even know them. It would be nice to be able to go to their page and look at a box that they can’t see where you can type, “I met this guy in 2011 through so and so, and we have xyz in common. But never discuss politics with him.”

And I wish WordPress, the site that hosts this blog, were a little easier to contact, too. I’d tell them that their latest improvements are giving me fits. If I click on the comment icon while in Firefox, nothing happens. And they’ve removed my ability to get to the comments from the drop down menu, so now if I want to look at my comments, the only way I’ve figured out how to get there is to click on statistics, then click on blog posts/add, then go to classic view, then click on comments. This, my friends, is a monumental pain in the a**.

And for pity’s sake, people, if you give your customers a mailing list option, include an opt out option that works on the bottom of every e-mail you send them. There’s nothing worse than signing up for something, regretting it, and then being perpetually pestered.

End of rant.


[This example of a really bad website, and ways to avoid having one, can be found on this blog.]