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TT&S Weekly

TT&S Weekly (9/12/11)

Topic of the Week  Higher Ground: How to Fall Up at Work

  • Adversity.
  • Belief.
  • Consequence.
  • Disputation.

We've all fallen down at work, what if the next time you faced a big challenge you could actually fall up? Not just survive it, but actually thrive from the experience? Which reminds me of Zhou Xin, 68, who was a contestant on "China's Got Talent," a reality TV show. Zhou is a practitioner of one of the "72 Shaolin skills," namely "iron crotch gong." He displayed his talent by stoically whacking himself in the testicles with a weight and then with a hammer. This might be the first time that I've actually appreciated American reality TV shows for their discretion.
What does this have to do with work? Most of us have whacked ourselves in our private parts at work, I manage to do it monthly. So how can you fall up at work? I'll provide the A,B,C and D below. For more, check out Shawn Acher's book, "Happiness Advantage" (Crown, 2010).

Adversity. Despite our best efforts, and sometimes because of them, adversity happens. Beating yourself up is a total waste of time. I do think it's important to spend some time sorting through the what's and why's, but only later once you've addressed the crisis. Never have faced adversity at work, then you're playing it too safe.

Belief. How you react to an event is often more important than the event itself. For example, I was disappointed when the first newspaper that I talked to about this column didn't offer me a full time job as a writer. But they did hire me as a freelancer and allow me to syndicate my content, which turned out much better for me. I don't want to sound like a Pollyanna, but often when you are up to your neck in alligators you can make lemonade (pardon me, but I just love to mix and match my metaphors), but you can only do this if you are always focused on learning everything you can from the good, the bad and the ugly at work.

Consequence. If we see the adversity as short term and as an opportunity for growth then we can maximize the chances for a positive outcome from what happened to us. Sure there could be some negative consequences, but usually they're manageable as long as you learn something in the process.

Disputation. Okay, maybe it's just because I'm from New Jersey, the land where disputing is a way of life. Stephen Anchor believes that we need to avoid being dragged down a more pessimistic path so we can avoid helplessness and inaction. That's why he believes it is so important to psychologically dispute what happened to us, to not allow ourselves to fall into victimhood. Note this is the last step of the process, again you don't want to drag yourself down in the middle of a conflict, but you do want to not let any of the bad stuff stick to you either.

Follow these tips and the only gong you'll hear is from your victory lap at work.


Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

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""Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." "

–Thomas Edison

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