Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finding Inspiration and Staying Positive Even When You Hate Your Job

I came across a question this week in my Facebook newsfeed asking, "Who has influenced you in your business?"  As I thought about the many people I have encountered throughout my working career the person I came up with was the one I least expected.

In the 90s, I was steadily climbing the non-profit organization ladder eventually becoming an Executive Director for a national non-profit group.  Most of my 10 years there were about absolutely LOVING what you do more than the paycheck.   Because I loved our mission and our purpose, my work reflected it and so it quickly transitioned to an executive position.

In that promotion, love shortly grew to a 9 to (way past) 5 drudge.  The mission turned into hiring, firing, accounting, documentation, managing, reports and pretty much a lot of stuff that had very little to do with the mission itself.   My only consolation was that if I didn't keep things running like a smooth-oiled machine, the organization and it's employees could not continue to work on the actual cause.

The executive position meant direct interaction with the board of directors and their office politics.  If you've ever seen Apprentice with Donald Trump, then you can understand a bit of my cut-throat experience in the board room.  In that interaction, more than ever before, I had to work closely with someone who...well...I'll just say it like it is...was a dirty, morally corrupt, sexually driven, mind-game expert who loved only himself and his ability to manipulate--a narcissist.  (I will call him Joe for the purpose of this blog).

Be that as it may, Joe had a passion to write and (of course) to see his name in print.  His passion was so much so that along with his own law firm, his active volunteer-ship as a board member, he also taught English Composition at one of the world's preeminent universities.   During my time at the organization, Joe asked me to write a news-release regarding a study produced by one of our advisors. What? Me?  "I don't write." I told Joe.  "Yes, you do" he said, "you express yourself beautifully, now just do it on paper."

I was shaking in my boots.  For sure, this was going to be the end of my career. Joe was going to see exactly how dumb I really was.  A flood of memories rushed over me from my school days when teachers, students and even my own family members poked fun at my writing.  I was criticized so much so that I believed writing was something I would never master.  It's like loving to sing with all your heart and soul in the shower but you would never do it in public.

Horrified, I turned in my news release with a warning that I was not one to write such things.  I recommended he choose someone else for the project so that it is done well and for "the greater good of the organization." Hey, it sounded good!  Joe took my draft and I left his office only to be called back in 10 minutes later.  He said to me, "I am going to work with you.  We will do this project together and I'll teach you exactly what I teach my students."  Huh?  I turned into his little pet project.  Even though I knew this was purely feeding his own ego--I was just happy I wasn't fired. Things were looking up.

"Energy flows where attention goes." -- James Arthur Ray.

What does energy have to do with hating your job?  Everything. Going to work and hating the environment, your co-workers, your job description, your boss (or some or all of these things) only keeps the negative energy flow in motion day after day and slows you from moving forward in your career.  Appreciate, appreciate, appreciate. I see now that people and experiences are brought to you divinely and with purpose. We may not be able to see it right away, but it's enough knowing that it is. It will reveal itself when it is divinely meant for you to see it.  Sure, I could have quit the moment my job turned into a drudge or because of one narcissist. Then what?  The action of quitting would have been because I was feeling unappreciative and negative about the moment and the person--and as energy likes to do--it would have continued it's same path elsewhere.

I eventually left that job, but it was never because I hated it.  I left for different reasons and with a deep sense of gratitude for all that I had learned there.  I sit here writing in awe as I think about life's twists and turns.   In the past, writing for a living was a pipe-dream.  I had no confidence in myself or my ability to even consider this venue for myself.  I am deeply appreciative of Joe.  He helped me to write and most important, Joe reignited my childhood dream of writing.  Today, I am constantly composing something in my head when I catch myself drifting in a daydream.

Blogging is essential to what I do and aside from all of Joe's issues in the office (and my constant effort to stay away from it), he turned out to be a valuable asset and the one I think about most as I consider who influenced me in my business.

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