What doesn’t kill you…

00401561 Editor’s Note: Today’s contribution to our Career section comes from blogger Denise D. She writes for the blog, Really Bad Boss, which has been featured in the Huffington Post and The Sun Times. In this piece she talks about making the best out of a bad job, boss or work situation…advice that can be applied to most anything…

What doesn’t kill you..

…often still hurts a little, or a lot.  But while you’re down there writhing in pain from the abuse, incompetence or just plain stupidity of a bad boss or bad work situation, use the time to learn a thing or two.  That’s what I’m doing…

A One Woman Show

Who would have thought that a couple years after being laid off (again) from a job working for (yet another) bad boss, that I’d be wearing the hats of marketing manager, artistic director, sales woman, PR person and human resources? And that’s just on a Monday.  At times it can be overwhelming and I certainly put in more hours than I’ve ever put in in my life, but the not having to answer to an idiot part and the not having to beg someone for time off part, well that makes it all worth while – even those months when I just squeak by. And I have no one to thank but the string of bad bosses who made me so angry and frustrated that I vowed I’d never work for another one again.

Working hard for everyone else

The irony is that despite the layoff track record, I’ve been working really hard for other people my entire adult life. I was the kind of employee who showed up early, stayed late and worked hard and smart because I took pride in what I did – even when my efforts were ignored. In the case of the worst bosses, my efforts were often ignored, undermined, or simply dismissed. And year after year I watched amazed as men and women who couldn’t work their their way out of a paper bag ran million dollar divisions and corporations, and I wondered what they had that I didn’t.

Some of them were simply handed their jobs by parents who’d worked hard and never quite transferred the same work ethic to their kids. Others just happened to be in the right place at the right time. And still others were coasting by on dumb luck. As I walked out of the office the day I was laid off, leaving behind the most ridiculous CEO I’d ever met and the most insane HR manager I’d had to misfortune of working with, I thought out loud – there’s got to be a better way than this.

I promise, it really does make you stronger

Fortunately while I’d been suffering at the hands of the latest motley crew, I’d been learning in the process. I took foreign language courses, software classes and brushed up on management training skills (ironic I know.) I took on projects I’d had no prior experience doing and tapped people more knowledgeable than I was to help me.

The moral of today’s story is this – put up with that moron for a little while longer – maybe a lot while longer. But put up with him or her and learn everything there is to learn about your job, your career and your industry while you’re stuck where you are. If possible, learn something totally out of the box. Tell yourself you’re getting more out of this than they are, and milk your current opportunities for all they’re worth. If possible, do it at your company’s expense (taking courses, training etc., not stealing office supplies.)

If you were anything like me, at times you’ll go home feeling defeated. You’ll worry about things you have no control over and you’ll wonder “why am I going through this?!?” Go ahead and feel those feelings. If you’re dealing with a really bad boss, it would be inhuman not to. But, a bad boss can’t kill you – no really, legally he can’t. And so, even though what doesn’t kill you still hurts, it really does make you stronger in the long run. I’m living proof.

If you’re a Women at Forty and would like to submit a post to our Career and Finance section, email us at contribute@womenatforty.com.

Denise is a blogger and freelance writer. She writes for the blog Really Bad Boss. Her writing has been featured in More Magazine, The Huffington Post and The Chicago Sun Times.

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Blogger, self-proclaimed-philosopher, voracious eater and opinion sharer.