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Why a Job is Like a Pair of Shoes

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

The life-cycle of your Job is like the life-cycle of a pair of Shoes…

New Job – New Shoes

Picture this: we are intent on buying new shoes. Some stores don’t hold our size, and some don’t carry the style we’re looking for. So we hunt around, visit a few shoe stores, and eventually find a pair in our size and style, and try them on – to see if they fit – looking in the carefully angled mirrors and treading a few steps to make sure they’re going to be comfortable. But we have only a few moments to make our decision. A store clerk puts pressure on us to take them now, or offers us alternatives. We can be impulsive. We take the shoes to a cashier and we have a new pair of shoes.

Much like buying a new pair of shoes, we will have companies we want to work for, and jobs we want to do. Finding a job that satisfies both takes some searching. A recruitment agency might be discussing vacancies with us – many of which might not be quite right. And the time we have to check for suitability – the interview – is too brief. Pressure comes from impulse, or the agency to take a job (like the store clerk, they’re on commission) and we are faced with a decision that will have a considerably longer consequence than it takes to make. We take steps to check the job is suited, ask questions in the interview, but we won’t really know until we start the job, or wear the shoes, if it will really fit.

First Day – First Wear

We put on the new shoes, and at first, they lack comfort. The shoes are not yet moulded to our feet, and the folds, creases and seems rub. Our feet may even sweat and the odd blister form. It’s likely that we might be walking slightly different to our normal gait, to minimize the rub. But people notice our new shoes and congratulate us on our purchase. Interest and intrigue results from friends. We tell our friends how comfortable they are, to convince ourselves. We persevere, telling ourselves that soon, they will be just right, but truthfully, we are not totally confident that they will be.

Much like the first few days in a new pair of shoes, we won’t be comfortable. We feel inflexibility because we haven’t worn the new job in, or have put enough miles to make it flexible. We may behave slightly out of character to ‘fit in’. We don’t know for sure, but we believe that the new job will come good  once we have been in it for long enough, and will put up with some pain, for now. We tell our congratulating friends how wonderful the job is, to avoid awkward questions that we have to face up to.

Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world – Marilyn Monroe

Comfortable Job – Comfortable Shoes

After a while, our shoes have been ‘broken in’ and we are enjoying the comfort. We try to keep them in good condition – and will buff and polish them to keep them nice and shiny. The shoes slip on easily in the morning and we forget we are even wearing them. There are many good months of wearing ahead.

Much like worn-in shoes, after a while we settle into our jobs and it begins to feel comfortable. Our next job is the furthest thing from our minds. We maintain pride in our job and our work. Our friends stop asking us about the job. Getting to work seems like second nature, and we can even forget the journey, as we arrive. The job doesn’t feel uncomfortably challenging.

Stagnating Job – Old Shoes

We know when we need to get new shoes when the old ones begin to look tatty. Perhaps the inner-sole has worn away and the outer-sole is leaking in heavy rain. Polishing and buffing won’t make any difference. The shoes are like slippers, most of the time, but we’re not proud of them and wouldn’t wear them on a date. Really, they should be used only for digging in the garden.

Much like old shoes, a job can become comfortable but falling apart at the seams. We know that it doesn’t look good on our resume, and no amount of re-energizing will change the fact that we have been in the job for too long. We don’t brag about our job any more. We have outgrown the job, and it’s time to visit the job ads again, much like a trip back to the shoe store.

What shoes are you wearing?

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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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