1. I need to be challenged and learning new things.
2. I need to be paid equitably for working hard.
3. I need to be having fun.
If any of these three are missing, it’s time to start looking for a new job. If two of them are missing, it’s time to get a recruiter and maybe take the Myers-Briggs test (just to be safe). If all three of them are missing, it’s time to walk away, as in, grab your briefcase (or messenger bag or backpack) and your five-minute file, and sprint for the elevator.
As a young employee, I loved the simplicity and elegance of this list; it was a constant and consistent reminder of what was important. Of course, as a seasoned professional (old guy) who is now the employer, I am seeing this list with a different set of eyes. And the term ‘quid pro quo’ comes to mind.
As a couple of young knucklehead Irishmen, Neil and I were always grateful and appreciative that someone actually wanted to pay us to work. So we always showed up on time, ready to work, and we always stayed until the work was done. And in between, we worked our tails off, conducting in-depth research, developing campaign strategies, traveling to client and customer meetings, writing copy, maintaining media relationships, supervising vendors, hosting events, taking notes, teaching and managing juniors and on and on. And we put up with some of the biggest industry blowhards imaginable. We listened to their stupid stories and helped them walk-off their drunken stupors and accepted their asinine business decisions and dealt with their inappropriate behavior.
We worked hard and we bitched all the time and we had so much fun – even when we were typing up 200-page documents on manual typewriters and proofing them ourselves – we had so much freaking fun.
In other words, we gave 100% and more. And in return, we expected 100% and more. We rightfully expected to be challenged and rewarded and gleeful. We earned it.
Anyway, it occurs to me now that Neil’s three laws of professional happiness may have limitations, as they only apply to those who give as much as they take. So if you fit into the category of professionals (young or old… millennials or boomers) who are appreciative, dedicated, hard-working, learning, improving, growing, contributing… and having fun, you deserve all the benefits that Neil suggests… you’ve earned the right to apply the laws accordingly.
On the other hand, if you are just showing up and putting in the time, Neil’s laws will never apply to you. And you would do yourself and everyone around you a great service if you re-evaluated your position.