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April 10, 2009

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Don't Bring it to Work

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 5:23 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Don't Bring it to Work: Breaking the Family Patterns that Limit Success by Sylvia Lafair, Jossey-Bass, 229 Pages, $24.95, Hardcover, March 2009, ISBN 9780470404362
In my dotage, I have discovered some things—one of them being that, often times, patterns repeat themselves. In Don't Bring It to Work, Sylavia Lafair contends that negative behavior traits at work can often be traced back to one's family. And, though being a jokester or a gossip at work can be fun, it can also be very destructive in a team business environment.
The author identifies thirteen of the character/workplace patterns many of us have seen in offices we have worked in. They include: Super-Achiever, Rebel, Persecutor, Victim, Rescuer, Clown, Martyr, Splitter, Procrastinator, Drama Queen or King, Pleaser, Denier, and Avoider. Now, truth be told, I am not usually a fan of books like this. But when I saw this list and looked back at my forty-plus years of working, I was hooked. She really nails people with these thirteen patterns.
Because she believes that much of this behavior comes from our family relationships—hence the title of the book, Don't Bring it to Work—she believes it can be changed and offers three steps to becoming aware of, and avoiding, these patterns at work.
Those three steps are "The Way OUT: Observe, Understand, and Transform."

  • Observe your behavior to discern underlying behavior patterns
  • Understand and probe deeper to discover the origins of these patterns
  • Transform by taking actions to change your behavior.

In the book, she takes the thirteen character patterns and discusses the "typical family experience" that caused those patterns. What I found fun is that she added some famous figures as examples. For instance, the "typical family experience" of the Super-Achiever is "There is financial or emotional bankruptcy in past generations, a history of failures or losses that instill shame." Examples here include Richard Nixon, William Clinton, and Jerry Lewis.
The author uses some really interesting and remarkable stories to support her ideas and add the connective tissue that a book like this needs to stick. As a result, we're more able to act on changing these patterns at work because we actually remember the stories that support the ideas.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.