The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: May 12th, 2013 by bobmorris

Reality-Based RulesThe Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, and Will Make You Happier
Cy Wakeman
Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint (2013)

How to increase one’s value as well as eliminate whatever can diminish it and, meanwhile, help others to do so, also

In the Introduction, Cy Wakeman establishes a direct and personal rapport with her readers that she sustains throughout her lively and eloquent narrative: “I am here to tell you: You are not a cog in a machine — far from it. You have more control than you think. That’s the good news. The bad news is, you and you alone are causing your own suffering. What most of your have lost touch with is that it isn’t your reality that is causing your pain and frustration. It’s the worn-out methods, techniques, and mind-sets with which you are approaching your reality. I’m here to tell you that your suffering is optional. I can help you get back on track so you can find bliss in your work again, while becoming more valuable to your organization than ever before.” Yes, the information, insights, and counsel that Wakeman provides in this book can help a reader to achieve that worthy objective. However, ultimately and (yes) obviously, the reader must be actively involved and fully committed.

There have probably been “reality-based rules” since several cavemen decided to form a tribe. Since then, the rules have changed because the prevailing realities have changed. Wakeman asserts (and I agree) that in today’s workplace, the “rules of the game” have changed and she focuses on five that are reality-based:

1. Your level of accountability determines your level of happiness.
2. Suffering is optional.
3. Buy-in is not optional.
4. Say “yes” to what’s next.
5. You will always have extenuating circumstances.

Wakeman suggests an appropriate attitude for each of these five (Re #5, “SUCCEED ANYWAY”) and has written a book in which she shares everything she has learned (thus far) about how to take full advantage of the opportunities that each realty-based rule has created. As I worked my way through the book, I was again reminded of an observation by Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” In her previously published book, Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, and Turn Excuses into Results, Wakeman explains how and why leaders, especially, must be resilient when adapting to new realities. In this volume, she re-emphasizes that while suggesting that “leadership” is by no means limited to residents of the C-Suite. Indeed, adaptive leadership must be developed at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of Wakeman’s coverage:

o Performance Reviews in Theory, Performance Reviews in Reality, and How They Can Go Wrong (Pages 18-25)
o From Pain to Vision, and, How to Rate Your Future Potential (40-48)
o Five Tactics for Maximizing Your Future Potential (49-60)
o Rating Emotional Expensiveness (65-67)
o Rate Your Emotional Expensiveness (70-74)
o Four Factors of Personal Accountability (84-96)
o The Monster Under the Bed Is in Your Head (103-106)
o Stay in Your Lane (112-114)
o Five New Realities You Can’t Afford to Ignore (125-134)
o The Three Stages of Change (138-147)
o Four Self-Serving but Lame Excuses (150-163)

I wish I had a dollar (or even a dime) for every time I have heard someone say, in effect, “The dog ate my career.” I call these people “crutch collectors” who never take ownership of the consequences of their decisions. They are always victims during tough times but wholly responsible for whatever good happens to them. I agree with Wakeman: “The root cause of everyone’s dissatisfaction is lack of Personal Accountability and lack of understanding of accountability’s true connection to both results and happiness.

“Personal responsibility is the belief that you are fully responsible for your own actions and their consequences. It is a choice, a mind-set, an expression of integrity. While some individuals possess a higher natural inclination toward Personal Accountability, it can most definitely be learned, and it is not only the foundation for all success in work and in life but also a prerequisite for happiness.”

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the quality and value of the material that Cy Wakeman provides. However, I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of her book. Also, I hope that those who read my commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not to obtain and read the book. In that event, I hope what it offers will guide them a better understanding of understanding of how to increase their value, eliminate whatever threatens to diminish it, and meanwhile help them to help countless others to develop that understanding, also.

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