Last week I wrote a post on what it’s like to work for a “psycho” boss. If you missed it click HERE. What happened next was sad, and surprising. I normally get a few messages after each of my posts from readers who relate in one way or another. This time I received over 100 messages from people who read the post and related but were too afraid to publicly comment on the article. These individuals still worked for their psycho bosses and were concerned about retribution if that boss saw that they commented or liked the article.

These stories went well beyond tough or even harsh bosses. I heard about bosses having sexual relationships with a manager’s direct reports. I heard about bosses who relished the intentional psychological damage they did to their employees. In message after message I heard from people who are trapped in a nightmare job and have been trying to find a better opportunity, but just haven’t been able to.

So, for anyone in that situation, I have a few tips on what you can do right now to make your daily lives a little better, and maybe improve your chances of waking from your nightmare.

1. Set a goal and accomplish it. Today.


One of the hardest things about living life under the thumb of a psycho boss is the erosion of your confidence and self-esteem. In fact, in order for a psycho boss to “thrive”, they must destroy your sense of self-worth. That’s why no matter what you do it’s wrong, too little, too much, black when it should have been white, white when it should have been black—you’re just wrong. Always.

If this is your reality you need to do one thing right now: succeed at something. If you do 50 pushups every morning, do 55. If you do 0 pushups, do 1. If you haven’t opened that book you planned on reading, open it and finish it. Succeed at something that reminds you that you are mentally strong, physically strong, and capable of setting a goal and accomplishing it. Knowing you can accomplish small goals makes it a lot easier to accomplish big goals.

Like getting a new job.

2. Invest in yourself.


Chances are a psycho boss is not investing in your professional development. That means you need to invest in yourself. In fact, no matter what type of boss you work for, you should always invest in your own professional development.

That doesn’t mean spending $50,000 on an MBA.

Organizations like Coursera and EdX allow you to take a wide variety of college courses for free. Your industry may also offer a certification or other type of credential for professionals like you. Explore informal professional development opportunities like mentoring and job shadowing.

You know that montage in every sports movie where the athlete is down and out and starts bench-pressing concrete blocks in a dingy basement?

Make that accounting class on Coursera your dingy basement.

3. Get entrepreneurial.

You may not aspire to be an entrepreneur, or work in a profession or industry that easily lends itself to going out and starting your own business. That’s okay. But there is something incredibly powerful about earning your own money, even if the amount of money is small. That first dollar you earn on your own is the ultimate confidence builder. It tells you that if push came to shove you can provide for yourself and your family. Hopefully push never comes to shove, but you may just find out you really like what you can do to earn your own paycheck, and that the thought of not having to deal with any more psycho bosses is worth the monetary tradeoff.


Start small. Sign up for eLance. Research small consulting opportunities. Even volunteering your skills on a pro-bono basis to a nonprofit can be a start, and help show you that there is still a demand for who you are and what you can do.

Refreshing your resume, updating your LinkedIn profile, and reaching out to your network are important. However, if you are in a truly awful job it is very easy to come off as desperate, and hiring desperate people is how psycho bosses ensure they can staff their companies.

The last thing you want to do is go from one psycho boss to another, which is easy to do when you wear your desperation on your sleeve.

Kill the desperate you right now. Do some pushups. Run a mile. Sign up for a class. Show yourself that if you had to you could make it on your own.

Rebuild and regain the real you, and you’ll be on your way toward getting rid of your psycho boss.

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