Does Your Day Job Have You Feeling Like a Robot or Zombie?

One of the top reasons why bright and talented women often end up disliking what they spend their day doing for work is because companies want robots, not people, and they manage in such a way as to create zombies. What happens is that otherwise intelligent, top performing women head off into the work world with dreams of making a difference and being wildly successful and instead after years of working their butt off wake up one morning with dull ache where their passions used to be. A dull ache of apathy or not quite knowing what happened to the zest, panache, and spring in their step.

Today I read a post by Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users that sums this phenomen up in pictures in a way I never could. I’d like a poster size of these images! They really rock. Hop on over to the article and take a deep look at the first two. Basically, why do companies hire bold, creative, smart, passionate, and independent people when what they really want are status quo, obedient robots? Here’s why, according to Kathy:

Why Robots Are the Best Employees

1) They don’t challenge the status quo

2) They don’t ask those uncomfortable questions

3) They’re 100% obedient

4) They don’t need “personal” days.

5)… because they don’t have a personal life

6) They never make the boss look bad (e.g. stupid, incompetent, clueless, etc.)

7) They dress and talk the way you want them to

8) They have no strongly-held opinions

9) They have no passion, so they have nothing to “fight” for

10) They are always willing to do whatever it takes (insane hours, etc.)

11) They are the ultimate team players

12) They don’t complain when you micromanage (tip: micromanaging is in fact one of the best ways to create a robot)

13) They don’t care what their workspace is like, and don’t complain if they don’t have the equipment they need

14) They’ll never threaten your job

15) They make perfect scapegoats

16) They get on well with zombies

She then goes on to create an awesome chart depicting the Zombie function. Basically it is what happens when an otherwise talented human is micromanaged to death. Hence, the word zombie. I mean, what talented person wants to be micromanaged? No one. And, my opinion on the micromanagers I have worked for is that they are so insecure and fearful of their own self and abilities that the only way they can feel secure is by tightening their grip and micromanaging. That’s an illusion of security if ever there was one. Micromanaging is like trying to control a cup of jello by tightening your fist around it. Go ahead, try it out…and let me know if you’ve sufficiently controlled that jello.

So, what can you do if you feel this dull ache and find yourself stuck in a world of robots and zombies? First, don’t despair – there is hope and your awareness of your dissatisfaction is the first step in creating a new situation that is fulfilling. Start with the following:

  • Make a list of what is missing from your day to day life.
  • Explore the question — what am I most passionate about? And, how have those passions gotten lost in the course of my day to day living? (Don’t worry about shoulds and don’t beat yourself up. Just write freely and openly over the course of several days.)

Once you get a sense of what is missing, you can start exploring ways to put these critical pieces back into your routine even if just in little ways at first. For instance, if you miss the freedom you once had (before you took a particular job perhaps) you can reserve one evening a week just for you to do whatever you choose and start experiencing a little freedom right now. What you’ll find is that as you start incorporating more of what really matters to you, even if only in 30 minute increments, you will start to awaken the person hidden behind the robot garb that you have unwittingly donned. As you start to wake up and reclaim some of this lost energy you can set about making even bigger changes that will put you on a path that excites you rather than drains you dry.

Not sure where to get started or overwhelmed by what you might discover? Contact meĀ  to learn more about how I work with people just like you to move beyond the daily grind.

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Google+ Comments


  1. Lyle Lachmuth - The says:

    Robots. Drones.

    Remember "The Borg".

    Corporations settle for the consistently adequate because we inconsistent, brilliant ones are too freaking hard to manage. Think herding cats!!

    I've consulted to very creative organizations — ad agencies — and even there they tend to settle for less.

    My cut on it is that if you are brilliant, eclectic, &/or multitaltented your future lies outside the corporation!



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