Show No Mercy: The Benefits of Being Your “Worst Boss” by Joshua Garrin

“When we’re open to learning, the teacher is everywhere. ~ Chinese Proverb

Over the years and throughout my various jobs, my bosses were definitely not what you would call “easy going”. Meeting their demands and satisfying their expectations wasn’t exactly what I would call a “cakewalk”; in most cases, it was actually pretty brutal. No doubt, my bosses expected me to be on top of my game—everyday. They expected nothing short of the absolute best from me—all the time. They were merciless in their expectation of nothing less than greatness from me—no exceptions. Once I started a project, they never let me give up on anything—ever. And on those occasions when I hid under my desk to escape their wrath, I didn’t hold back from calling him/her “the worst boss ever” (under my breath, of course).

Okay, so I never actually hid from my bosses under my desk. In fact, I even wound up taking a page or two out of their books. And why? Ironically, I‘m proud to say that I’ve become “my own worst boss”. And how? In my work, I consistently give my clients nothing less than my absolute best. I hold myself accountable for providing my clients with the highest possible level of care. I make every effort to help my clients to optimize their outcomes and realize their infinite potential. And as they diligently strive to attain their goals, I never give up on my clients…no matter how close they are to giving up on themselves.

As you can see, “be your own worst boss” is just another way of saying “be your absolute best ‘self-boss’”. After all, there’s only one person who’s going to hold you accountable for navigating the challenges and remaining on your path to greatness: you.


Here are a few desirable elements to bring with you on the journey to becoming the best version of yourself… and perhaps, the best boss you will ever have:

Contemplation. Stop what you’re doing and hit “pause”. Take inventory of the awesome things that you’ve accomplished…and get a sense of what you have yet to accomplish as you strive toward your goals. Remember—you have full control over your choices, so don’t hesitate to rethink your strategy and redirect your route when obstacles emerge. As you reflect and introspect on “where you’ve been”, you can get a better sense of “where you need to go” in order to arrive at your destination.

Creativity. Did you know that there’s an artist in you? Well, now you do! When you think of your long-term goals in “broad brush strokes”, you can think of your short-term goals as the little splashes of color that add personality and character to your goal “canvas”. To add more color to your “palette”, take a moment to see the world through the creative lens of others—exposure to different attitudes, beliefs, and perspectives can inspire (and empower) you to push forward on the goal path.

Challenge-orientation. Despite it’s bad reputation, challenge contains a hidden power: Just when it seems that your resources have been depleted and you feel the urge to wave the white flag of surrender, challenge can “fuel” your motivational “engine”. During moments when you feel as though you’re “running on empty”, challenge can be just the thing that inspires you to prove to yourself that you can (and will) succeed…no matter what it takes.

I consider myself lucky. In their own unique ways, all of my “worst bosses” were supportive teachers. They were introspective mentors. They were creative visionaries who had an “outside of the box” sense of how to “get it done”. They were challenge-oriented leaders who had an endless supply of confidence in my ability to succeed. In fact, when fear came knocking at my door, my bosses encouraged me to do what didn’t come naturally to me: let it in.

In retrospect, I now realize that my bosses allowed me to slip, slide, twist, turn, and meander my way toward becoming the best version of me because they trusted me to fall…and eventually, to stand up. Empathic and humanistic, my bosses went to great lengths to nurture my talents and create opportunities for me to flourish.

Yep, that’s right—like a seed waiting to be nurtured, my bosses “grew” me.

As the old Chinese proverb says, “When we’re open to learning, the teacher is everywhere”. So, be open to learning. Be willing to grow. And graciously accept the gifts given to you by your “worst boss”. S/he is in you.

jgarrin-biopic-2About the Author: Joshua GARRIN is one of Your Monthly Mentors, an Award-Winning Health Psychologist, Author of “The I-Way to Well”, Personal Trainer, Health Coach, and Self-Motivationalist. He holds a Ph.D. in health psychology, an M.S. in cognitive psychology, and a B.S. in general psychology and journalism and currently resides in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Following the completion of his doctorate in 2014, Joshua was the recipient of Walden University’s Harold L. Hodgkinson Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research for his inquiry on health beliefs, outcome expectancies, and stress appraisal in college seniors. Read More… 

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