It’s been a month since my last blog entry. I’m embarrassed that it has been so long. I had such a good, dependable cadence going, and then I lost motivation. Of course what followed next was nagging at myself and creating an even bigger setback because I was falling further and further away from actually opening the laptop. But, what I really needed to do was ask myself why I was suddenly so unmotivated?
I’ve thought about this a lot the last few weeks – what triggered my non-motivation? I could only narrow it to one specific incident, and it happened at work. Isn’t it interesting? I took up blogging because I was lacking the opportunity to write in my new job, and yet that new job has impacted and derailed my ability to write for the past month? It all struck so suddenly – I have referred to it as being blind sided.
Some of my readers may know, but some of you may not – I have been struggling in my new job. Initially – say the first couple of months – I chalked my struggles up to learning new things, working with new people and different personalities, and just overall dealing with change. But as month 4 approached I was beginning to feel like I was barely keeping my head above water. I had gone from “OK, I’m learning new things, there’s some room here for me to feel uneasy and unsure,” to “Holy Mother of God – I think I’m going to cry in the middle of this meeting!” Now, if you asked any of my friends or family…I DO NOT cry at work. I have always followed the philosophy that while work is important, it’s not so important that it deserves an emotion from me such as crying. I would get up and walk around the block out of frustration before I would ever let myself have a good cry at work.
But then it happened. My face got really hot, my heart started racing, and I was booking it to the bathroom so that I could have the most unsatisfying cry I’ve ever experienced in my life. I needed to really let loose, but because I was at work I had this weird sob in the bathroom stall – so needless to say, that still left me feeling awful.
Generally my disposition is upbeat, happy and overall friendly. So when I was asked how things were going I tried to be upbeat and convey that everything was fine. This person knows me well from past work experiences, and called me on my BS immediately and set up time for us to chat. I expressed that I was feeling a lack of direction from my boss. I realized that I wasn’t actually being managed. I was floundering and it was scary. I had never been in a situation like this before. The conversation with my co-worker was really great and completely reset how I was feeling.
Fast forward a couple of months (like month 6), and I was starting to feel like things were no longer working so great, upon which there was some re-organization and a change in management for my team. With the changes, I was asked to meet with some folks for coffee to get a pulse check on how things are going, what I think we could do as a team to improve etc. Again, another very motivating encounter, and I was feeling really good.
This was a false sense of motivation because shortly after that coffee I got sucker punched. Actually, I have called it sucker punched in the gut and then immediately struck across the face (figuratively speaking of course). That’s what it felt like. I had been working from home one afternoon and had a call to discuss some deliverables. The call was great. I could tell that clearer direction was being given in regards to how the team should work, and where we should be concentrating our time and efforts. I was feeling like there might be some hope for this job and me after all!
Then, the conversation took a weird turn. I was told that there had been some talk about whether I was the right fit for the job, that maybe I’m in over my head, and that I didn’t know what I was doing…I will hold now for your stunned reaction. I was floored. I asked where this feedback had come from because I was surprised to hear something like that. The response was, “I heard it from a couple of people.”
Since this happened at the very end of our call, and I had another call immediately after, I had to cut it short. I hung up and proceeded to dial into my next call – with a consultant – not even someone on my team. I told her I was sorry for calling late and that I had been on a previous call. She asked me how the call went, and I lost it. I started crying. I started crying on a conference call with a consultant. I mean, who does that? Her response was very sweet, and she sounded shocked, and I was more than embarrassed, I was mortified. I gave her an idea as to what had me so upset, but really I hadn’t even had a chance to wrap my mind around what I had just been told. As you can imagine, that call ended fairly quickly.
Once I had a moment to think about things I realized that I couldn’t walk around the office the next day thinking that people had that kind of opinion about my experience and my capability to do the job. My company encourages speaking up/out about incidents and issues that are inappropriate. I realized that what I had experienced was inappropriate. I took inventory of what had gone wrong in that conversation:
1. I was given feedback on performance over the phone – that in itself is inappropriate
2. When I asked where such feedback came from I was given a very vague response, when the appropriate thing would have been to give me examples of when someone could have walked away with that opinion of me and how I could fix it
3. The feedback I was provided didn’t match the mid-year review I had just had the previous week, upon which I was successful and on target for the year
I decided that I needed to escalate the issue. This was hard for me to decide to do, which may seem silly initially, but I had never been in a situation like that, and it was very upsetting for me. What if I escalate this, and find out that people actually think that about my capability to do the job?! What if I’m told that I must have misunderstood the conversation? There were so many things running through my head. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I decided to escalate via email. I was nervous.
About 10 minutes after I sent the email my cell phone rang. I was impressed, I was expecting to receive a response via email. The information I had relayed was important enough for a phone call. Needless to say, what I had been told about my performance was not how the rest of the team was feeling and I was assured it would be addressed.
In the meantime, I reached out to the person who has been my mentor from the start (heck, he hired me!) and he always has the best advice. He told me to start looking for a new position, and in the meantime that I needed to work like a rock star even more to ensure that NO ONE would ever believe that something like that could be said about me. He then did what he does so well, and asked me what I was doing as an outlet to work through this. He can be very introspective, and wanted to take my thoughts off of this crappy thing that had clearly derailed me, and so he asked me how I’m coping with it. I told him I started a blog and then at that very moment, I realized that I hadn’t posted anything since the incident. It was an “ah-hah” moment. He made me realize that I was letting what had happened impact the good things that I was doing for myself. Not only had I been unmotivated to write, but I realized I wasn’t working out as regularly and overall had started feeling really down on myself.
Work is work. I have always had the ability to separate the two. This experience has tested me in many ways. It has tested my ability to speak up and stand up for myself. It has tested my confidence – I know that I’m not that person that was described to me on the phone. It has tested my ability to forgive – I still need to work with this person (closely) on a regular basis, and it tested my ability to take a look outside of my feelings (which BTW were haunting and never stopped) and identify why I was feeling the way I was. It made me realize how it was impacting me physically, mentally and emotionally, and what I needed to do to fix it.
Hence, why I’m sharing it with all of you. I went back and forth on this. Is it sharing too much? Some of my readers are co-workers, should I filter myself more? I decided no. I decided that I’m not the only one who has struggled with situations such as this and that sharing is always good and opens the opportunity to communicate and know that you aren’t alone.
So, in the meantime I write on. I kicked my motivational road block to the curb and I’m trying to keep calm through the work-storm I have found myself in. This too, shall pass.