Once there was a young woman who didn\’t like her job. Everyday when she
came home from work, she told her husband how terrible her day had
been, how tiring the work and how unreasonable her boss. “Leave that
job,” her husband told her.

“Oh I will” she said. “But not yet. I have too many friends there for
me to leave just yet.” And so she complained until the days became
years and her family grew to five. “Leave that job,” her children told
her. “Oh I will” she said. “But not yet. I have seniority and four
weeks vacation I can spend with you. I\’m not ready to start over just

And so she remained unhappy at work until the years became decades and
her children had children. “Leave that job,” her grandchildren told
her. “Oh I will,” she said. “But not yet. There\’s only seven more years
until I reach thirty years of service and can retire. So I can\’t just

I know this woman. And scores like her. People who settle for where
they are, what they\’re doing, and how they\’re doing it. People who have
planted their feet in status quo cement, lacking the courage to move
from what is to what could be. People experiencing work like a four
letter word and doing nothing to change it.

They remind me of the story about an old dog half-asleep on the porch
of the general store, moaning and groaning in the sun. “Why is your dog
acting that way?” a customer asked the store owner. “Oh,” answered the
man, “he\’s lying on a nail.” “Well, why doesn\’t he move?” “Because it\’s
not hurting him bad enough.”

That\’s true for people, too. We convince ourselves the pain is not bad
enough to leave the workplace we know. But we\’re wrong. Prolonged work
pain is damaging. Some damages our self-esteem, kills our passion or
destroys our dreams. Some emerges when we compromise our values, quiet
our voice or hide our talent. Some happens when we\’re seduced by power
or believe our own myths of importance and significance. Some occurs
when we look the other way, say yes when we mean no or forfeit the
promises we made to ourself.

Wilbur Wright, of the Wright brothers fame, once commented, “We could
hardly wait to get up in the morning.” I know that exhilarating feeling
of being so passionate about something I was working on that I couldn\’t
wait to get back to work. And people who are winning at working know
that kind of passion, too.

They get excited about work. They thrive offering their unique gifts
and talents. And when things change as they sometimes will, they refuse
to let a soul-depleting boss or environment hijack their self-esteem,
passion or dreams. When work becomes work, they stop lying on a nail
and do something about it.

Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, and speaker. Her career insights column, Winning at Working (www.winningatworking.com ) regularly appears on over eighty websites; and her life-reflections column, In the Scheme of Things (www.intheschemeofthings.com) is published in six states and Canada. Her work has been selected to appear in several anthologies. To sign up for Nan's free eColumn(s), or read more about Nan or her work, visit: www.nanrussell.com.