Do Epic Sh!t: 4 Unexpected Lessons From The Office Space

Dr. Jamie Schwandt
Apr 4, 2018 · 8 min read

It’s unusual for a person to break away from self-made mental shackles.

Yet, here’s the deal:

We can!

In contrast to worrying about the thoughts of everyone else around us, there is a way to escape. Seldom do we learn the skills necessary to focus on our own thoughts and feelings. Instead, we hang on every comment made by those around us.

So, how can we achieve this powerful shift in mindset? How can we stop giving a f*ck about what everyone else thinks so we can start kicking a$$?

How can we achieve an “awakening” allowing us to focus on Doing Epic Sh!t — Instead of caring about other people’s Sh!t?

What’s the answer?

Watch the movie Office Space. And yet, watch the movie as a creative and critical thinker.

In the movie, the main protagonist Peter has an “awakening” moment after his hypnotherapist drops dead during a session. At that exact moment, his perspective about life radically changes. He realizes life is short and there is no time to be miserable.

With your creative and critical thinking hat on, start looking for ways you can create your own “awakening” moment without having to kill your hypnotherapist!

So, ditch the TPS reports and grab your stapler. Here are 4 ways to set the building on fire and Do Epic Sh!t!

1. Become Who You Are

Bob: “Looks like you’ve been missing quite a bit of work lately.” Peter: “Well, I wouldn’t say I’ve been MISSING it, Bob.”

Let’s examine Peter’s “awakening” moment. Watch the following clip:

Peter: “So I’m sitting in my cubicle today and I realized that ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So it means that every single day you see me, that’s on the worse day of my life.”

Dr. Swanson: “What about today? Is today the worse day of your life?”

Peter: “Yeah.”

Dr. Swanson: “Oh, that’s bad stuff.”

Peter: “I’m sorry.”

Dr. Swanson: “Ok.”

Peter: “But is there any way that you, you could just sock me out so there’s no way that I’ll know I’m at work? Right here? (points to his head) Can I just come home and think I’ve been fishing all day or something?”

Dr. Swanson: “That’s really not what I do, Peter. However, the good news is, I think I can help you. I want you to do something for me, Peter. I want you to try and relax. I want you to relax every muscle in your body, from your toes to your fingertips. Now I want you to relax your legs. You’re going to begin to feel your eyelids getting heavy as you slip deeper and deeper into a state of complete relaxation. the air of concerns to you is disappearing. Deeper, way down, your concerns about your job melts away. Way, way down. Now when I count backwards from three, you’ll be in a state of complete relaxation. your worries, cares and ambitions will be gone. And you will remain in that state until I snap my fingers. Three. Deeper and deeper. Way down, way down. Two. Way down. One. He faints out of the chair and everyone rushes to his aid.”

The scene ends with Dr. Swanson dying after counting to one, yet he never snaps his fingers. So, Peter is left in a state of hypnosis. All his cares and concerns are gone: his concern about his job, life, etc. are all gone. He leaves in a state of complete relaxation.

So, how can you achieve this same mindset without having to be hypnotized, thus killing your hypnotherapist!

What’s the answer?

Focus only on those things that are important to you. Those things you are passionate about.

Ask yourself one simple question:

What pisses you of the most? The answer just might be your passion!

Ironically, it is more about giving a f*ck, then not giving a f*ck. Use the advice offered by Steve Jobs,

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Or as Friedrich Nietzsche famously said,

“Become who you are.”

If you really think about it, you know what’s most important in your life. For me, it’s my wife and daughter. Those two beautiful ladies are my priority and everything else takes a back seat. They provide me a purpose in life. Those two girls allow me to become me.

2. I Believe You Have My Stapler

“And if, if they take my stapler, I will, I will set this building on fire.” — Milton

In Office Space, Milton is an iconic character. He was essentially let go, yet he was never told he was fired. He just keeps showing up to work and his desk keeps getting moved. When his paycheck stops and his stapler is taken… the line has been crossed!

So, what does Milton do?

He sets the building on fire!

What’s the point here?

Don’t take Sh!t from anyone! You are in control of your life. You set your path.

Imagine Milton’s stapler is like your confidence. You must protect your confidence and find ways to boost it. Find ways to invest in yourself; thus, you will invest in your confidence.

Why do we need confidence?

So we can Do Epic Sh!t!

So, hold onto that damn stapler.

Or as Ayn Rand said,

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

3. It’s Not That I’m Lazy, It’s Just That I Don’t Care

“You cannot allow any of your people to avoid the brutal facts. If they start living in a dream world, It’s going to be bad.” — James Mattis, 26th United States Secretary of Defense

My favorite part of the movie is Peter’s interaction with the Bob’s. The Bob’s are essentially outside consultants brought in to decide who to fire. When they interview Peter, they are taken aback by his brutal honesty.

Let’s take a look at this scene:

With your creative and critical thinking hat on, let’s now examine the script.

Bob Slydell: “Aha! All right. We were just talking about you. You must be Peter Gibbons. Uh huh. Terrific. I’m Bob Slydell and this is my associate, Bob Porter.”

Peter: “Hi, Bob. Bob.”

Bob Porter: “Why don’t you grab a seat and join us for a minute?”

Bob Slydell: “Y’see, what we’re trying to do here, we’re just trying to get a feel for how people spend their day. So, if you would, would you just walk us through a typical day for you?”

Peter: “Yeah.”

Bob Slydell: “Great.”

Peter: “Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late. I use the side door, that way Lumbergh can’t see me. Uh, and after that, I just sorta space out for about an hour.”

Bob Porter: “Space out?”

Peter: “Yeah. I just stare at my desk but it looks like I’m working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too. I’d probably, say, in a given week, I probably do about fifteen minutes of real, actual work.”

Bob Slydell: “Uh, Peter, would you be a good sport and indulge us and tell us a little more?”

Peter: “Let me tell you something about TPS reports…”

Peter: “The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy. It’s just that I just don’t care.”

Bob Porter: “Don’t, don’t care?”

Peter: “It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now, if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime. So where’s the motivation? And here’s another thing, Bob. I have eight different bosses right now!”

Bob Slydell: “I beg your pardon?”

Peter: “Eight bosses.”

Bob Slydell: “Eight?”

Peter: “Eight, bob. So that means when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my real motivation — is not to be hassled. That and the fear of losing my job, but y’know, Bob, it will only make someone work hard enough not to get fired.”

Bob Slydell: “Bear with me for a minute.”

Peter: “Ok.”

Bob Slydell: “What if you were offered some kind of stock option and equity sharing program?”

Peter: “I don’t know. I guess. Listen, I’m gonna go. It’s been really nice talking to be of you guys.”

Bob Slydell: “Absolutely. It’s all on this side of the table, trust me.”

Peter: “Good luck with your layoffs. I hope your firings go really well.”

Bob Slydell: “Wow.”

Later in the movie, the Bob’s push to promote Peter as they think he has upper management written all over him.

“I had a chance to meet this young man and boy does he have Straight to Upper Management written all over him.” — The Bob’s

So, what’s the point?

It’s quite simple, be brutally honest without a care in the world. Tell it for what it is. If someone has a horrible plan… tell them they have a horrible plan.

Essentially, live the life of a Maverick!

Innovate, challenge people, be brutally honest, and do great things. You are going to piss people off, but you know what… who cares.

Furthermore, don’t let anyone hold you back.

Should you compromise with a person who seeks to hold you back?


4. Don’t Try To Be Somebody, Instead Do Something

“What keeps you awake at night? Nothing… I keep other people awake at night.” — James Mattis, 26th United States Secretary of Defense

Famous U.S. Air Force Colonel John Boyd used to ask people,

“Do you want to be somebody or do something?”

He remarked,

“To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision.”

What’s the lesson here?

Don’t strive to be somebody; thus jeopardizing your ability to Do Epic Sh!t!

Instead, strive to be a “doer” and do something.

The key takeaway here is to become a carnivore.

In the movie, Peter becomes unable to endure another day at work. Along with his colleagues, Peter takes out his aggression on a printer.

Let’s examine this hilarious scene:

This is where Peter’s colleagues decide to quit being herbivores. This scene represents their transition to carnivore status.

Sounds crazy right?

Who cares… just remember that,

“Carnivores eat Herbivores!”

Here is the most important part of my rambling:

Never look back at an explosion!

This mindset is going to really piss people off. It will set off metaphorical explosions. But you must never look back. Never! Instead, simply smile and try to walk forward in slow motion!

Stop worrying about the thoughts of everyone else around you.

Focus only on the important things in your life and stop giving a f*ck about what everyone else thinks.

Find your “awakening” moment allowing you to Do Epic Sh!t!

And remember,

“It’s not that you’re lazy, It’s just that you don’t care!”

Dr. Jamie Schwandt

Written by

Dr. Schwandt (Ed.D.) is an American author, L6S master black belt, and red teamer.

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