I was chatting to a friend recently who said she had this guy at work keep bothering her requesting tid-bits of information, which was starting to annoy her because his project seemed unimportant and he was wasting her time. I asked her if he was working on the Penske File. While she had never heard of the Penske File (she wasn’t a Seinfeld fan), she knew exactly what I was talking about. She felt that he was given a boring project and he was doing his best to justify his position in completing it.
For those who don’t know it, according to the urban dictionary, the Penske File in an ‘imaginary/non-existent project, used as a cover for goofing off at work…’ derived from an episode where George Costanza was ‘busy working on the Penske File.’
Consider for a moment, where in your life are you working on a Penske File? Working on a project where you are justifying your position or purpose? A job or project that absolutely bores and does not challenge you, yet you drag it out because you are too scared to ask for a new challenge? Or perhaps you are completing mundane tasks as a way of procrastination to do something you really want to do, but are overwhelmed or fearful?
I have certainly worked in many environments where employees and managers have made ridiculous requests and changes in the workplace that made no sense, nor improved efficiency, however, realised that they were simply justifying their worth, without really looking at the bigger picture.
I worked with a new colleague recently who was extremely talented, had many ideas about how to develop the company he worked for, however, his current position was repetitive, and I felt that he was bored. I suggested that he create his own new responsibilities, and take on ownership of areas that he had identified as lacking in which the company didn’t have the resources to cover. Not only does it show initiative and generates an opportunity of up skilling, in a way, you are giving yourself a mini-promotion. He was enthusiastic to the idea.
If you are working on a Penske File, ask yourself, what am I really doing here? Am I bored? Do I feel undervalued? Do I feel disempowered? Am I seeing the bigger picture? Am I using it as an excuse to avoid a bigger responsibility? Or even confrontation? Am I procrastinating in following my passion, just incase it doesn’t work out? Maybe you like doing as little as possible and that is totally okay as well!
While it’s nice to work on a Penske File from time to time just to enjoy a little space, too much time on it may lead you feeling stuck and disempowered.
Ask yourself, what’s really lying underneath? What is it that I really want to achieve? What actions do I need to take to get excited and passionate?