I have written recently about my concerns at work.
I suppose I have always been an ambitious person. I was the first in my family to go to university. My plan from being a little girl was to work hard, be successful and look after my mum and dad.
And I did it, you know. Somehow I got a good degree, a job.. A career. I looked after my dad.
And I have worked my way up the ladder – almost without a plan at times. My focus has always been on the role at hand. I’d work hard, enjoy the feeling of success when the hard work paid off and then realise that the only way to experience that again was to go higher up the ladder.
My strengths at work are also my weaknesses. I’m hardworking to a fault – pushing and pushing myself until I reach success. I exhaust myself in the quest for success and self satisfaction of a job well done or a problem solved. I have a high emotional awareness to the extent that I’m perhaps too sensitive to other’s feelings. It’s nice that people want to talk to me about their problems, but it can be draining too.
All this leads to bouts of illness or, more seriously, burn out which I experienced a year ago.
My Dad’s death has fundamentally changed me. For once my hard work has not ended in success – I couldn’t have given any more time or hours to my Dad but even if I could, it wouldn’t have helped.
My emotional sensitivity hasn’t helped with the crushing grief I continue to experience. I was once very good at hiding my own emotions. Not any more. Staff I manage are asking me how I am, sympathetically, that look in their eye and that tone in their voice.
I’ve reverted to type this week though.
There have been some management changes this year. Two of my colleagues – both male – are vying for prominence and career enhancement. Unfortunately, my recent circumstances have left my role wide open for a takeover and a chance for them to prove themselves and their ambitions.
I’ve fought back, of course. That inner strength that has disappeared since Dad’s death has reappeared in one way or another. I’ve worked hard. I’m proving my worth again. Reminding people, and perhaps myself, what I can do.
I’ve listened to advice though too. I can’t pretend to be or feel something I’m not. I’ve been genuine and not tried to hide my pain or the changes this has brought about. I am what I am at the moment. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t work hard.
I don’t blame my colleagues for wanting to develop their careers. But I would never do what they have done. My career is not as important as it once was but at the same time it is something that I – and my Dad – was very proud of. I’m not giving that up, not without a fight. Not until I choose to anyway.
I don’t know long I can sustain this work ethic either. But I know I have to try until I feel secure in my role again. My Dad never gave up on any job and neither will I.