Escaping the Welfare Cheese Mindset

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  • Jun, 16 , 21

The First of My Professional Tidbits Series


During my professional career, I’ve had the opportunity to observe and work alongside many young professionals. (And of course, at the beginning of my career, I was one!)

Often they arrive on their first day with a starry-eyed mixture of excitement and anxiety, determined to exude confidence and competence. Some of them are coming straight from college with an internship under their belt; others have been in “the real world” a bit longer.

As the first days give way to weeks and then months, these eager professionals become more comfortable in their new role. And at some point, concern about a good impression subsides and their true work ethic, habits, and attitudes emerge.

Sometimes, these young professionals reveal what I call a “Welfare Cheese Mindset” that rules their professional lives, sabotaging their career and often bringing negative consequences to their team. It’s important to note that this career-defeating mindset isn’t confined to  professionals from any one socioeconomic  situation.

If a young professional has a “Welfare Cheese Mindset,” you’ll observe in them one or more of the following traits.

  1. Is risk averse - afraid to take calculated risks, even with management approval.
  2. Has zero accountability – it is always someone else’s fault.
  3. Has a poor work ethic – late to meetings, doesn’t meet deadlines, poor quality of work, and takes shortcuts.
  4. Is reactive – has limited to no vision, always waits for things to happen versus making things happen, and are physically and emotionally affected by job events.
  5. Is nearsighted – focuses on the obstacle instead of the overall objective.
  6. Is self-centered – concerned with what is happening to them instead of what they can do to improve the project or team; only cares about themselves.
  7. Is misguided – plans to work harder after they receive a promotion instead of becoming an asset the team cannot do without.
  8. Is sensitive – receives constructive feedback as an attack on their ability and reputation rather than an opportunity for continuous improvement.
  9. Interacts according to stereotypes – searches for or expects the bad from people versus taking time to get to know people.
  10. Is insecure – takes their lack of knowledge as a weakness and tries to hide it versus embracing it as an opportunity to learn and better themselves.
  11. Has an inflated ego – focuses solely on making themselves appear great instead of promoting the accomplishments of their peers, manager, or team.
  12. Has a hard-work-only mentality – believes that their hard work alone will be noticed and result in a raise or promotion, ignoring the fact that some self-promotion and networking is required.
  13. Is peer-driven – places higher value on what their friends and coworkers think of them than what is best for the corporation.

    To be fair, a “Welfare Cheese Mindset” is not confined to young professionals.

    I wonder, do you see any of these traits in yourself?

    Don’t panic if you do!

    We’re human and a product of our upbringing, experiences, and education. The key is to recognize these traits and work to overcome them so they will not sabotage your professional (or personal) success.

    Whether you’re a new employee or you’ve been around awhile, your company has invested a lot of time and money in you. They believe you have potential to be a huge asset for them. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be there.

    While your corporation doesn’t expect you to know everything, they do expect you to keep learning and keep growing professionally. They want you to contribute, and they want you to succeed. Employees with a “Welfare Cheese Mindset” undermine their own success and, in turn, the success of their team.

    Are you serious about career advancement?

    If you’re serious about growing professionally and advancing in your career, Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a must-read for you. And Covey’s book will also help you in your personal life.

    Here’s a quick look a the seven habits. You’ll see they are a far cry from a “Welfare Cheese Mindset.”

    1. Be proactive. Respond according to values, be accountable for your actions, understand and increase your circle of influence, and become a transition figure to benefit yourself and others.
    2. Begin with the end in mind. Create and apply personal and organizational mission statements as constitutions for daily living. Envision the desired results and important values to guide activities and endeavors.
    3. Put first things first. Focus on what’s truly important (i.e., preparation, prevention, values clarification, planning, relationship-building, empowerment). Plan weekly and implement daily based on your mission, roles, goals, and priorities.
    4. Think win-win. Balance courage and consideration in seeking mutual benefit. Ensure win-win outcomes, despite past win-lose conditioning.
    5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Use empathetic listening, paying attention to another person with compassion, feeling, insight, and emotional identification.
    6. Synergize. Explore possibilities that will benefit all involved parties.
    7. Sharpen the saw. Renew your physical, mental, spiritual, and social/emotional lives daily. This will sustain and increase your capacities and help discipline your mind, body, and spirit.

    Invest the time to read Covey’s book. And determine to overcome any “Welfare Cheese Mindset” traits you identify in yourself. You won’t regret it!

    Encourage a young professional!

    Are you connected to someone who’s just starting their career? Do you know a young professional without a strong support system?

    My book, Welfare Cheese to Fine Caviar and the FREE Companion Guide are wonderful tools to help any young professional develop a mindset for success!

    I’d love to hear about your connections to young people who need to hear my story. You can contact me here.

    Together, we can improve society one person at a time!



    What readers are saying!

    I got this book yesterday, opened it and could not put it down. A real page turner. I loved how Thomas shared his past experiences in the chapters then had a reflection questions and prayer to God . Everyone experiences adversity in life. He showed in the book how with hard work, humility, and faith a person can achieve their dreams. Make a decision to be the best version of yourself. God has created all of us for a purpose.” 

    -Darryl W. 

    “I learned so much about myself reading this book, it is a great read that deserves to be recognized on a national platform for young men to emulate.”

    -Tre Hayes

    “This book is one of the best self help books I have ever read. Once I started reading, I found it difficult to put it down. I wanted to learn more of what Thomas went through from childhood to now. Most books I’ve read let you find your own understanding, but this book guides you in so many ways on how to turn things that may to go well around… I recommend everyone to buy this book and use it as a tool for life’s challenging times and how to overcome every situation.”

    -Kevin Mubanga



    Featured in Book Life Reviews, by Publishers Weekly

    "Welfare Cheese to Fine Caviar" is an apt title for this stirring, powerful memoir. Wideman takes the reader on a moving rags-to-riches story, as seen through his eyes: He shares his personal life story of starting out in poverty, being raised by a single mother, and eventually enjoying a flourishing career, a beloved wife, and two sons. For Wideman, "riches" came in the form of personal achievements, a successful family life, and the satisfaction of overcoming obstacles and hardships along the way. Readers looking for inspiration will appreciate Wideman's straightforward account about how adversity only made him push harder to achieve a better life. Read full review.



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