3 Career Lessons We Can Learn from the Three Stooges

Most of us begin learning career lessons while we’re still very young. In elementary school, we’re taught to be punctual, work in teams, use time wisely, and complete assignments in an allotted period. These are all lessons we need to be successful in any career. As we get older, we may obtain additional information on how to perform in the workplace from college, from watching our parents and teachers, and even from movies and television.

When we think of the Three Stooges, many of us think of silliness, slapstick comedy, and overall hilarity. Their clever skits and mild violence are enough to make anyone laugh. But the trio does illustrate some classic workplace etiquette at times, and we can learn a lot from them on what to do and what not to do in our careers.

1. Be Assertive

Although we have labor departments, labor laws, equal rights laws, and unions to protect us from unfair labor practices, unethical work environments and poor worker treatment is still a common problem. Workers at manufacturing plants complain of long hours, and some workers — specifically those in retail industries –are paid low wages.

What if we could just handle these situations like Moe? Imagine a workplace where a quick bop on the head could solve common grievances. Perhaps problem solving would be more efficient. All joking aside, while Moe may take the “Don’t take any crap from anyone” philosophy to the extreme, perhaps we can learn from his straightforward approach. Although, of course, we have to keep our hands to ourselves.

2. Know When to Cut Your Losses

The Stooges seem to have little trouble cutting their losses and running. In the video above, their ill-attempts to sell farm-raised salmon are thwarted by their own ineptness, patrons, and police. In spite of their time and monetary investment, they hit the road and move onto a different endeavor. Perhaps ignorance is bliss.

When you’ve put everything you’ve got into your career or into some sort of business venture, it’s hard to let it go sometimes. But, when a career endeavor is consistently costing you more money than it is gaining you, it may just be time to move on. The Ivey Business Journal published information on a study that examined how we react in situations where it’s best to simply cut our losses. Our sunk costs, as well as an inability to face the fact that it’s not working out, both play a role in how difficult it is for us to move on from such business ventures.

Using the NBA draft as data for analysis, scholars determined that the more money a team spent on a player, the longer they were inclined to hold on to that player, even if letting go is the ideal decision. “They found a negative relationship between the cost of acquiring a player and the probability that the player would be traded or released by their original team at the end of any given year. … Staw and Hoang concluded that this negative relationship provided evidence that player utilization in the NBA depended upon ‘sunk costs as well as performance criteria.’ Put another way, general managers and coaches in the NBA have a very hard time admitting that a projected star has turned out to be a flop,” said the publication.

Imagine if we could all just pick up our stuff, dust ourselves off, and metaphorically run to the next chapter in our careers, just like the Three Stooges.

3. Follow Instructions to the Letter

These days, the work environment is dynamic. New technologies emerge regularly, and employers expect employees to keep up with all of the changes. Training is fast paced and sometimes, a slideshow presentation or short seminar is the extent of the training materials. Sometimes, the remainder of training is on-the-job. It’s essential that we make every effort to follow all directions without fail.

While Curly takes instructions in the most literal sense, we can still learn something from his attentiveness and the enthusiastic attitude he displays when given a task. Certainly is his response to most requests, as he appears to truly give 100 percent effort. You rarely hear a complaint, and you seldom hear a statement of discontentment. Sure, he may fall a few times along the way, but he gets back up and is ready to try again.

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