Keeping Workplace Challenges in Perspective

There’s a reason we call our ideal occupation a “dream” job… It doesn’t exist in our ordinary plane of existence.

A real job is never perfect. But I have a rule that has helped me appreciate the good in my jobs, and draw my own line of acceptable compromise so I can make sure I’m keeping true to what I need. I call it the 85% rule.

It goes basically like this: In any role, if I enjoy what I’m doing 85% of the time, I’m good.

Working with fellow humans will ALWAYS cause its share of annoyance, exhaustion, and frustration. But if I enjoy spending time with my colleagues at least 85% of the time…I’m good!

My most favorite boss ever got a 95%. Dream boss, right? Wrong. I’m semi-serious when I say that the other 5% of the time, I wanted to shake him.

Here’s the thing though: If I had focused on the 5% of unmitigated aggravation my boss caused me, I would have missed out on one of the most important mentors of my career. He gave me, hands down, some of the best career advice I’ve ever received. He modeled the most strategic and savvy thinking I’ve ever witnessed. And he gave invaluable feedback on my potential that boosted my confidence and shaped my professional future.

The benefits of working for him were so worth that pesky 5%.

I’m not saying you should tolerate bad coworkers or toxic bosses. I’m DEFINITELY not saying you should tolerate abuse or discrimination. Far from it! Those factors will tarnish any good that comes with your job, and drive your enjoyment of it well below 85%.

But the 85% rule can help you know where your threshold is, and help you cope when you’re having a day that falls into that undesirable 15%.

A job is a package deal. Contextualize the bad with the good, and look at the whole picture. If it’s 85% positive…you’re probably good!