Life lessons from "The Office"

Mother Nature Network (mmn.com)May 23, 2013 

TV-The Office Ends

Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, in this scene from the final episode for “The Office,” was involved in just one of many office romances on the show. A lesson learned?

CHRIS HASTON — The Associated Press

After nine seasons of workplace pranks and clandestine romances, we're finally saying goodbye to "The Office." The show was a comedy, but within those boundaries, it found ways to be sweet. Thanks to a well-rounded cast, we got to know the real, flawed people who worked there - and in some cases, we even learned from them.

Here are a few lessons to take with you.

1. KEEP YOUR WORK LIFE, LOVE LIFE SEPARATE

This might be controversial considering how much people love Jim and Pam, but while their marriage endures, that's not the norm. Look around this fictional office and see the many failed romances: Dwight and Angela, Kelly and Ryan, and Jan and Michael are all examples of bad coworker relationships. Just because one couple managed to defy the odds and (mostly) make it work doesn't mean that dating your coworkers is likely to last - and it will definitely be awkward at some point.

2. DON'T ASSUME THE WORLD STOPS TURNING WHEN YOU'RE NOT THERE

Ed Helms' character Andy left the show for a few months this season so he could film "The Hangover 3." When Andy returned to Dunder-Mifflin, he was surprised to learn that everything had continued right along without him: Erin moved on with Gabe, and Andy was demoted to a lesser job and almost got fired.

Remember that the things you do - particularly at the office - affect other people.

3. CREATE YOUR OWN OPPORTUNITIES

When Michael started to feel marginalized at work and couldn't deal with the pressure from the head office, he created his own rival company, the Michael Scott Paper Company, and hired away some of his Dunder-Mifflin employees. Though the project didn't last long, it gave Michael a boost of confidence and eventually helped him get the attention he craved from his Dunder-Mifflin bosses.

4. DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU

In season 3, one of the big mysteries was who would get the corporate Dunder-Mifflin job that Jan was about to lose. Andy, Karen and Jim all interviewed for it, but the big job went to - surprise! - Ryan. Though Ryan started off as a temp and everyone dismissed him as being too young and inexperienced, it turned out that he had an MBA and was more qualified for the job than anyone else. Everyone in the office was blindsided, but they wouldn't have been if they'd paid more attention to Ryan from the start.

5. ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP PLAN

Jim and Pam's wedding in Niagara Falls should have been a sweet and happy day. But then Michael slept with Pam's mom and Andy got injured and the big day is almost ruined. Luckily, Jim was aware of his co-workers' potential to wreck everything and had a backup plan: a small, secret wedding for him and Pam on the Maid of the Mist, the boat that goes under the falls.

6. IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO CHASE DOWN A DREAM

Pam started out as a receptionist, but she had always harbored a dream to become an artist. Pam spent three months in New York City taking art classes. After she came back to Scranton, got married, and had kids, she still found ways to keep her hand in art and even got hired by Angela to do a mural for a public building. Though she isn't going to be the next Picasso, Pam found a way to pursue her creative outlet and kept it going.

7. BE THERE FOR YOUR FRIENDS WHEN THEY REALLY NEED YOU

As much as Michael sometimes drove Pam crazy, he was a true friend when she needed one. Pam was depressed about Jim's relationship with Karen and was on the verge of breaking down at her art show because no one from Dunder-Mifflin came. Then Michael showed up, bought one of Pam's pieces, and told her he was proud of her. It was a sweet moment in an often-ridiculous show, but it showed that Michael understood Pam and knew that she needed support.

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