Jeff Foxworthy has made a career out of his, “You might be a redneck if…” jokes. Besides giving rednecks more jokes than they know what to do with, these jokes reach a bigger audience because they are relatable. We see ourselves or someone we know in some aspect of these jokes. “You might be a redneck if your salad bowls have Cool Whip stamped on them.” I always wondered if you were a redneck if it was only the extra guest bowls that had the cool whip stamp? Regardless, if we look closely at some of the fun poked by Foxworthy, we might also detect a theme of complacency—always settling rather than striving to better ourselves.
So picking up on Foxworthy’s method of using humor to look within our lives, I wanted to do a blog series called, “You might be a Cruiser if…” As professionals, we all cruise at some point in time or in relation to things that we find painful or not yet worth the effort. Cruisers, a term from David Maister’s book True Professionalism, are fully competent, work hard, do good work and take care of clients. They are professionals who are comfortable and living life in their comfort zone. Cruisers rarely work on new things and they certainly don’t seek them out. Cruisers view their work as a job and do their best to live off of their existing skills.
This doesn’t make anyone a bad person—in fact, they are known for good work. But cruising causes us to work at what we are already good at and cling to a low-stress, comfortable work style. Maister also points out that cruisers demonstrate very little passion. This lack of passion and satisfaction with “just doing my job” has worked for many years, but it is far from true professionalism as defined by Maister. Cruising has become very dangerous today as pointed out in a recent blog by Seth Godin, The computer, the network and the economy. The rate of change is causing professionals to risk losing relevancy and be commoditized very quickly.
Let’s be honest, if we look around, just like the redneck jokes, we can see a lot of cruising—in ourselves or someone we know. We ALL cruise sometimes, but if we could have more self-awareness and laugh about it too, we might push ourselves out of that comfort zone.
Let’s help each other shed the “cruiser” mentality and work on being dynamos. A dynamo is a professional who is passionate about their career, continually developing new skills, growing new knowledge as well as challenging and growing those around them. Dynamos use their passion to grow themselves, their team members and their firms. And each of us has what it takes to be a dynamo.
In this series, we will share some jokes, Foxworthy style, to help us reflect with humor on where we are in our career. Are we cruising or are we working on being a dynamo? Please join the conversation and share your favorite “You might be a Cruiser if…” jokes each week. Here are my four for this week:
- You might be a cruiser if your clients never call you before they make a decision unless they are looking for a fourth person in the local charity golf scramble.
- You might be a cruiser if you have (or want) an office sign that reads, “Just Let Me Do My Job.”
- You might be a cruiser if your client Christmas card list has been the same for three years running.
- You might be a cruiser if you plan a luncheon for all of the firm leaders you developed and the caterer delivers one turkey BLT in a paper sack to your office.