Not your monkey, not your circus


I made a huge mistake nine months ago when I sold my business to a large national firm. I didn’t realize they were crooks. When they wooed me, they made huge promises, none of which they’ve met.

I suppose I could sue them for fraud — except that would tie me up in legal hassles for years and cost thousands in attorney fees. Also, they’re skilled liars and have three full-time lawyers on staff. Not only have I been had, but I’m stuck.

One of the worst parts is I report to an idiot. He’s the son of one of the three partners, which means I can’t complain to anyone about him. He’s arrogant and smug. Worse, he’s incompetent.

Although I’ve experienced plenty of hard times in the 22 years I spent building and running my business, I’ve always had energy, motivation and determination. I’ve worked hard because I’ve wanted to. I’ve enjoyed planning how to make things better for my customers and my company.

Now I drag myself to work. I don’t want to give my best, because I don’t want my idiot manager to take credit for what I produce. I could probably endure all the rest of it if it wasn’t for him. I open a countdown calendar in my computer at the end of each workday so I can see how many months, weeks and days I have left. My anger and frustration permeate every aspect of my life. What can I do?


If you’ve accurately assessed that you can’t reverse the sale, stop focusing on the company you’ve joined and the incompetence of your immediate manager. They’re not your “circus” and he’s not your “monkey.”

Stop letting disappointment and disgust take over your life. You know how to build and run a business, and how to apply energy and determination to achieving goals. Decide you’ll build something new, something for yourself. Then, create three to five goals.


One to two of your goals can relate to what you want to learn and do while you’re with this company. What’s a work challenge you’ve never tackled because it felt too risky? Perhaps you can experiment while you work for a company you don’t fully care about. Alternatively, what experience do you want to provide your customers and yourself during the workday?

Use the next 15 months to plan your future. You sold your business because you wanted a next chapter in life — what do you want to happen in that chapter? Create two, three or more goals for your own future. If you allow yourself to plunge 100% into this “envision and create my future” project, you may discover that during your intense two decades of effort devoted to building a business, you narrowed your vision to your work or to one type of work. What more do you want to achieve in the years you have left?

Once you do that, strip your countdown calendar from your worksite computer. It only serves as a depressing daily reminder of the months and weeks you remain in a problem situation. Worse, if you work for sneaky crooks, they can potentially use that calendar against you. Don’t give them any ammunition. Fifteen months from now you want to leave them far behind.

Finally, you acknowledge you made a mistake. You’ve already paid a hefty price. Don’t pay double, which is what we do when we beat ourselves up over the mistakes we’ve made. Instead, focus on your future, and don’t give your smug manager the power to cloud your life. In the long run, he doesn’t matter. He is someone else’s problem.

Lynne Curry | Alaska Workplace

Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of “Navigating Conflict,” “Managing for Accountability,” “Beating the Workplace Bully" and “Solutions,” and Submit questions at or follow her on, or @lynnecurry10 on X/Twitter.