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To Win the Rat Race, Think Like a Rat

  • 2007 24 May
To Win the Rat Race, Think Like a Rat

You may be able to improve your life if you think like a rat!

We talk about “being in the rat race,” but this is probably unfair. It’s actually demeaning to the rats. Rats won’t stay in a race when it’s obvious there’s no cheese. The popular little book, “Who Moved My Cheese” showed how even smart rats quickly look for new routes to follow when the cheese is gone. Humans, on the other hand, seem to often get themselves into traps from which they never escape. Some research shows that up to 70 percent of white-collar workers are unhappy with their jobs – ironically, they are also spending more and more time working.

Jan Halper, a Palo Alto psychologist, has spent ten years exploring the careers and emotions of over 4000 male executives. He found that 58 percent of those in middle management felt they had wasted many years of their lives struggling to achieve their goals. They were bitter about the many sacrifices they had made during those years.

“A man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting his bread.”  Henry David Thoreau

Each week I talk to individuals who feel trapped in their current work.  They talk about being demeaned, belittled, and emotionally abused.  And yet they stay; hoping against all odds that things will magically improve.  Some seem to take a martyr’s attitude that God is working something out or that Satan is mercilessly attacking them.

There is the risk you cannot afford to take, and there is the risk you cannot afford not to take. Peter Drucker

Rats, however, move on once they realize the cheese is gone or perhaps was never there.  Rats would probably be embarrassed to be labeled “being in the human race” for doing ridiculous things like continuing to go to a job that they hated every day.  Take action to move toward whatever is pure, good and honorable – in your life and in your work.

From the Bible:

“You are living a brand new kind of life that is continually learning more and more of what is right, and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you.”  Colossians 3: 10  (TLB)

Direction for Today:

Can you think like a rat today?  What is an area in your life where you need to walk away and seek a more peaceful solution?

Dan Miller is President of The Business Source, founder of "48 Days" and author of 48 Days To The Work You Love and 48 Days To Creative Income. He is the growing authority for creating effective life plans that are achieved by integrating natural gifts, unique personality traits and one's own values and passions. His unique clarification of how God gifts us will introduce you to a new sense of freedom and fulfillment of your life's calling. For more information, visit