Career Killers

The holidays are tucked away for another year, we have survived the family gatherings, company parties, and our own inability to refrain from the decadent food stuffs.  Now, I’d like to help you survive in your career.

Writing is a business with the author at the center and just like any other business can be enhanced or broken by the CEO.   You as the author are the CEO of your business and your career swings on your decisions and actions.

With a well-kept secret degree in Organizational Management and a Nursing Specialty in Psychiatric Behavior and a writer by choice, I am in a unique position to give you some pointers on how to conduct yourself as a professional and bring life to your business of writing.

Watch out for these three career killing characters.

Self-fulfilling Sally

Dear Sally is an amazing writer, but she doesn’t know it.  She struggles with self-image and sees everyone as better, brighter, more polished. Her peers have poured praise into her, and she loves it, but deep inside, Sally knows it isn’t true.  She works hard at writing and has some amazing stories under her belt, but Sally won’t move forward.  She is stuck.  She may send something off to an agent or publisher, but something is always wrong with it, ensuring the self-fulfilling prophecy of rejection.  She is disgruntled and overly sensitive, and undermines her own credibility, setting herself up for failure.

Be aware of your own self sabotaging behaviors.  If the same outcomes repeatedly happen to you, take an inventory.  Make a list of behaviors that you may be rehashing and actively seek solutions to rid yourself of them.

Unprofessional Ursula

The life of the party, the class clown, or the easy breezy Ursula is the girl everyone wants for a friend.  She is funny, witty, and blast for girls’ night out.  With a ready quip, she keeps groups from becoming too intense. But Ursula can really bend a phrase and speckle it with interjections that aren’t appropriate for business conversation.  She types her email responses in all caps screaming at her readers.  She speaks/reacts before she thinks and puts words into the internet ether that she can’t bring back. If you follow her blog or Facebook account you will be inundated with her constant complaints of this person or that person or how she has been mistreated here or there. All those typed words, all of those status updates and blogs are read by friends and business acquaintances and they work to undermine her credibility and professional image.

Keep this mantra in your head.

“Don’t type it, post it, or say it until the emotion has faded.”

Another good mantra is

“Respond, don’t react!”

Even the most reasonable of us can be tempted to rattle off a response in an emotional knee-jerk reaction.  Make a habit of stepping away, pulling your hands away from the keyboard and not falling into the unprofessional trap of public ranting.  Spoken/Posted words that you can’t retract will crash your professional image if you aren’t careful.

Codependent Carl

Carl is a classic rescuer.  He doesn’t know it.  He thinks he is helping, assisting, teaching, or just being a good guy.  He will constantly go above and beyond the call of duty to win the praise and gratitude of his coworkers and friends. A People Pleaser with a capital “P,” Carl loves to be the hero and come up with fantastic and creative solutions to the group’s problems.  All is fine and well until his co-workers don’t respond to his helpfulness in the way he expected.  Then Codependent Carl crashes into a mess of “I don’t understand, I was just trying to help! I did it all for them! How can they treat me that way?”  It is a cycle that merry-go-rounds throughout Carl’s life, because he doesn’t know his behavior is codependent.

Whether you collaborate in a blog like the Blue Monkeys or coauthor a book, or manage a team of editors, proofreaders and betas, you are going to come across codependent behavior.  Maybe it is you. Maybe it is Ursula or Sally, but at some point it is going to be crucial that you recognize the codependent cycle and step off the merry-go-round.

Key emotions will flag that you have been sucked into a codependent cycle.

Need to Please:  an intense need for affirmation leads to over and above behaviors with a secondary gain of acceptance. The difference between an exceptionally productive employee and a codependent personality lies in the secondary gain.  Does the outcome equally benefit the entire group or mostly bring acclaim to the employee.

Guilt: even though you did not appreciate what your coworker did, you now feel guilty for stating your opinion.  A codependent personality cannot take “no” for an answer.  Anytime constraints are placed on their wonderful idea, they will have a meltdown.  Accusations, innuendo, and right out name calling will commence.

Shifting Loyalties:  Factions may emerge; this side against that side.  That is the greatest indicator that your team is about to blow up and take your career down the tubes. Stop the tidal rush to divide into sides.  Begin peace making speech. “There are no bad guys here.” “Everyone’s opinion matters.” “We can agree to disagree.” The best one I’ve found. “You are right. Let’s step back and take another look.”

Break the Cycle


Recognize the behaviors and step out of the cycle.  Prevent emotional hostages from being taken by closing down the rant asap.  Don’t apologize for having a contradicting opinion. You are allowed to voice an opinion with firm and polite conviction.

Step out of the cycle at any point to break the chain.


Managing a business can be time consuming and energy draining, especially for creative types. You have the power to make your career as a writer or break it.  Keep a watchful eye out for Self-fulfilling Sally, Unprofessional Ursula, and Codependent Carl and you will be on your way to managing a successful writing career.

What other issues do you see as potential career killer?  Share with us your insights on how to keep them out of our professional lives.

(Previously published on Read Write Muse’s former site.)



LaDonna Cole RN CM, CART, is a Registered Psychiatric Nurse and Care Manager, she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management from Covenant College and Nursing Degree from Midwestern State University.  Over the years she has Coordinated and Managed several fine arts programs, music departments, and nonprofit organization staff.  She currently resides in Tennessee and writes fiction as a second job to her Nursing Care Manager position.


2 thoughts on “Career Killers

  1. Oh, sigh. Self sabotaging behaviors! The scary thing about them is that we rarely recognize them in ourselves, you know? Sometimes I can see what I’m doing, but most of the time I’m just afraid that I’m doing the same thing without realizing it because I’ve just become so used to it.

    Thanks, LaD. This helps me step back a little bit and take inventory. Which is always a good thing!


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