How Fight Club is your career. So man up!

Fight Club Brad Pitt Subliminal1
'Do you know who this guy is? I don't know him but really want to ask him where he gets those leather jackets" "What guy?"Image by swanksalot via Flickr

I love Fight Club – at times it as though Ed Norton is living out exactly the kind fantasies of extreme honesty we have all yearned for at different points in our lives, with quite apocalyptic results. Despite eventually leading to a quite bleak end, might we all benefit from a bit more of a Tyler Durden approach to our career management?

What not to love about Fight Club? Ok beyond the violence that is. And the random acts of anarchy. And how it glamorises someone who is clearly in a very troubled period mentally in their lives… well look there is some stuff to dislike but overall it’s a good movie, alright?!

The idea of an alter ego driving the actions of some people in their daily lives is reality, so I want to make clear it is not my intention to make light of this in any way. What I am talking about is considering there might be something to us ignoring our inner urges out of fear of judgement from others specifically in terms of career management, and the consequences of embracing what might seem pretty crazy ideas and plots.

But what if you could get some sort of control of the Tyler Durden raging within to use as a resource? Here are some suggestions that will help you do this, though I would like to make clear they are not rules. If they were rules (like in Fight Club) we all know what the first rule would be – and that would make this a very short blog post, wouldn’t it?

1) It’s a tough market so get in shape

Brad Pitt did it for this role, Tom Hardy had to for the upcoming Batman movie – and if I am ever going to make it on to the front cover of Men’s Health in the New Year I will need to as well. What? It could happen…

I am talking about getting physically fit but you need to take the same approach to your career, meaning you need to make sure not only your CV is presentable and up to scratch but all of your personal development plans are too. In a tough market the way to set yourself apart will be to show how you add value or are willing to – showing an initiative in developing your skills and abilities is how you can do this.

So get second opinions from friends and family on your CV and next steps in your development but approach strangers also. When dealing with recruiters and employers this is what you are doing so this is great practice for how to build bridges and present yourself to others if nothing else. Get on forums, blogs, Twitter, social (on and offline) events to do with your field and see if you get some honest advice and reviews from peers

Eventually you might find yourself with a little army of Tyler Durden’s to bounce ideas around with. Scary thought? Maybe – but the thought of not having people to share ideas with is even scarier.

2) Crazy can make you stand out more than straight edge

Often people have fears about doing the above, worried about coming off as incompetent, nervous, shy, rude, or just all of the above in rambling first meetings when trying to get their group of Tyler Durden’s on board.

I certainly have lived out all of those at one time or another in my attempts to network and get advice and, to be honest, I look forward to those times happening again.

Why? Because I am pushing myself to try to make a change that will help me to move forward. Sure there will be false dawns (I once refused to tell a recruiter at interview what my salary expectations were as I thought it would “help my negotiating position in due course” – needless to say I ended up having no position, full stop) but as long as I learn and apply this moving forward it just a temporary bump in the road.

Worried that in doing so you might blow an opportunity? Ask yourself, if you were not practising putting yourself out there and meeting people does this make you anymore prepared to be in a position to embrace other opportunities further down the line?

So don’t worry about being all kinds of crazy, before you know it you will be able to laugh it off. And next time you see your Tyler Durden’s you can ask them what you should have done differently – you might then realise that they once did what you did, and suddenly you realise you are not so crazy after all!

3) Realising your are owed nothing will set you free

You need to accept that you are not owed a living by your employer, that your manager does not live to further your career opportunities, and that the world is not designed to serve you.

Accepted it? Feel a bit more alone? You shouldn’t – you should feel in control. Why? Once you realise that all any of the above happening are benefits and not to be taken for granted you realise that the one person who can make a difference in your life if yourself – and that is in fact a pretty exciting place to be.

Sure, in Fight Club Ed might have to put a gun to his head to realise that he does not need or agree with what Tyler has helped him do – how lucky you do not need to go that far! Take responsibility for what you are doing and realise that you are able to choose your path. It might seem a little daunting at first and you might find yourself second guessing what you are doing in the first instance but this is all part of the fun (for fun please see my recruiter story a little earlier in this post) and developing your ability to judge and self assess where you are currently at.

So feel at ease – all the opportunities are out there for you to embrace. You don’t even need an imaginary friend to help or anything – no matter what Tyler Durden might be saying (shut up internal Patrick Tyler!)


6 thoughts on “How Fight Club is your career. So man up!

  1. Like it! Add to the mix, the confidence to risk failure / making a fool of yourself. We need to encourage risk, and allow for failures, or we never truly stretch ourselves or our organisations. To nick from Magnus Lindkvist, be patient and be willing to recycle failure if you believe the idea is a good one

  2. Recycling failure – I love it! Glad to hear you enjoyed it Bob, always enjoy going with the win big/lose big odds in terms of trying new things. Curious about this Magnus Lindkvist – tell me more!

  3. Mullarkey:
    Though I’ve never seen Fight Club, I still pulled great messages from your post!

    You’re point about not being owed anything is one that is difficult to achieve, but I agree with you, it is liberating!

    Thanks for contributing this post to Career Development Carnival! I’m so glad to have been introduced to your work!


    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Hannah, delighted you liked the post!

      I must get my excuses in now and say if you ever see Fight Club I am sure my post will illustrate how I have misunderstood the subplot and social commentary that was really going on – doh! Nevertheless it is still a cracking movie which is well worth watching.

      Thanks again for letting me join the carnival (my parents would be so proud if I said I was running off to become a ‘carnie’!) – looking forward to contributing to future editions.

      All the best,


  4. Thanks Karla, glad you liked it. Any suggestions of other movies you would like to see used as a framework for professional development advice? I had plans for an Anchor Man post but that felt like it might be too much of a stretch!

    Thanks again for the comment and the retweet.

    All the best, Patrick

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