Under promise, over deliver.

From Mike’s Mud Room on Discovery.com

Dear Mike,

I so admire your ability to jump in to any situation and give it your all. You seem so confident, capable, and self-assured.

My question to you would be– In your adult life, is there anything you have attempted, or wanted to accomplish, that you have not been able to complete?

Thanks so much,


(If Mike has already answered this, just point me in the right direction. I did a search but could not find anything)

Hi Marla,

Thank you.

Remember though, I’m working in my chosen field, at a time in my life when I don’t really need to do anything I don’t want to do. It’s easy to look confident in those circumstances, and I guess for the most part, I am. However, I’m no stranger to apprehension and worry, having pooed my pants on several occasions this past year alone.

I honestly sympathize with your present circumstance, and wish I could offer some sensible advice. Alas, I cannot. I can’t presume to know the particulars of your situation, and even if I did, I’d be reticent to offer anything other than a few general observations, along with my sincere hope that you land squarely on your feet. Here are some very general thoughts.

Security in the workplace is an illusion, and it always has been. For a long time, Corporate America was able to perpetuate the notion of security with pension plans and health insurance and 401K’s and matching contributions and company picnics and daycare and profit-sharing and vested options and a lot of other enticements that encourage loyalty, foster dependence, and slowly convince otherwise responsible grownups to view their employers as parent figures. (Parent Company, anyone?) Well, the chickens have come home to roost, and thousands of jobs have gone up in smoke. Thousands more will follow. And thousands more after that.

In my opinion, the workforce at large would be better served by adopting the attitude that all jobs are transitory, and let go of the belief that our bosses owe us anything more than a paycheck. We should all enter the workplace with the expectation of being fired. Like politicians, most workers would benefit from term limits on the job.

The culprit is not Corporate America or Capitalism, it’s our stubborn need to keep up with The Joneses’, and own the material things we are told we deserve, even if it means living paycheck to paycheck. We just can’t seem to help ourselves. As a culture, we proceed as though we are entitled to own that which we cannot afford. We raise families with no clear plan for how we’ll provide for them. We accept debt as though it’s inevitable. We live paycheck to paycheck, and then, blame our bosses when the paycheck goes away. We refinance, over and over and over. We simply need to change the way we think about work, security, money, and debt.

If my opinion was to take the form of advice, and I was talking to a group of graduating seniors, I would say this. Consume less. Pay yourself first. Save more. Avoid all debt. Do whatever you can to make certain your company needs you more than you need it. Under promise. Over deliver. And always remember, all jobs are dirty jobs.


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