Your Workplace Nemesis

by: Doug Michaelides

Frequent readers know that I’m a fan of Dilbert comics.  Recently, Dilbert tried to recruit a new nemesis at work since his old one had retired.  According to Dilbert, the physics of work require that each employee be matched by an “anti-employee” called a nemesis.  It’s the nemesis’ job to continually thwart your progress and generally make your work life miserable.

It rings true doesn’t it?  We all run into the naysayers, political backstabbers and surly gatekeepers that interfere with making progress at work.  They test our patience, cause our blood pressure to rise and, in the worst cases, can lead to disillusionment and abandonment of good ideas.  And it all happens under the radar of upper management.  There’s no doubt about it, facing a nemesis in the workplace can be a toxic experience.

Yet even if it is sometimes justified, it’s often too easy to blame others for our failure to achieve our goals.  The truth is, a big part of our jobs is to influence people and build consensus for our ideas.  Those who actively oppose our initiatives are simply more extreme cases of everyone else that is neutral but still needs convincing.   Sure, it means more effort but there’s always a way around an obstacle if you are clever and committed enough.

The toughest nemesis though, is the one that knows us best.  Too often we subvert our own success through self-doubt, lack of preparation or lack of effort.  Facing a little bit of resistance, we throw up our hands and throw in the towel, conveniently blaming others for our own lack of conviction.  In doing so we further undermine ourselves by strengthening our inner nemesis.

So, the next time you run into an immovable object, tap into your inner irresistible force and redouble your efforts.  Believe in your own capabilities and you will find a way to overcome.  After all, you didn’t get this far by giving up, did you?

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