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Patience is a Virtue. Even in the Workplace.

November 10, 2009 2 comments

In every job that we take on – both professionally and personally – there is a bit of a learning curve. There is a time where we struggle, where we feel awkward, and where we could really just give up entirely. Gradually, if we stick with it, we learn and it becomes more comfortable than it was before.

Usually, this requires the patience of others to wait while you learn. The boss has to give you some time to get adjusted. The friend has to understand if you need time for your new relationship.

Nowadays, we have all been faced with the unfortunate reality that the only real thing we can control is the stuff between our ears. Our brains. Our careers are not fixed, our degrees are not as well-counted, and our experience is constantly shifting. Our resumes are not determined by what we are doing in life, but by what we are questing for – if that is even a term.

The reason I thought of this is because of the amount of people I see who have such a burning desire to help in the nonprofit world, but who are relegated to administrative, nonsensical tasks for eternity. They lose that drive, and perhaps even turn to another sector because of this idea.

There is no one there telling them that they are worth the wait. It will take time for them to adjust in their duties with a higher degree of responsibility, but why shouldn’t someone give them a shot?

Doesn’t passion matter?

In today’s world, it is hard to hold on to what you believe, and even harder to find those with patience to hold onto it with you. That is why in my life, the people I value the most are those that allow me the time to make mistakes, to try things out, and to recognize my flaws – both at work and at home.

If there were one message I could deliver to the nonprofit sector “Gods”, whoever they may be, it would be this:

Don’t walk around with blinders. There are tons of inspired, visionary young people who are waiting for their chance to change the world. We would all be better off if you let them.

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Categories: Career, Challenges

Can We?

November 4, 2009 Leave a comment

obamaToday is just one of them days. Remember that song, by Monica in the mid-90’s? If you’re a girl I bet you do. Today is one of those days where I got to work and felt like I had just swallowed mud. Like if all of the computers suddenly crashed and the internet failed and I could go home, I would celebrate.

We can’t always be happy with our jobs. Or our world. Today I also woke up to the news that gay marriage has been deemed illegal in Maine, two Republicans have taken back Democratic seats, and all the media seems to want to talk about is whether Obama’s “charm” has worn off. It seems like the world is calling for me to be in a bad mood.

What do these large political decisions and ramifications have to do with work? Not a lot, at least in the more immediate sense. But in the American sense, I find a lot of tangible connections.

1) At many nonprofits, the bottom line has become a major concern. We are a nonprofits by name and tax status, yes, but ultimately, the vibe has become to answer to whoever holds the funds. Some programs have become slaves to foundation dollars. What happened to hoping?

2) There is less of an emphasis on team building or personal connections, and more of a “let’s get it done” mentality.

3) Many believe that those in senior positions always know best.

One thing I have learned from blogging is that  it is important to express when one feels like their work environment is just oblivious to the role it plays in the lives of those that work there.  What about the simple act of caring for one another? Has this really been swallowed up?

The New York Times ran an article this morning on the ramifications of office gossip. What does this say about our society as a whole?

I am working hard to recognize the good and bad in everything – and ultimately, this means putting up with annoying things at work.

How do we make work a little more personal, and ultimately, should we?

 

Categories: Career, Challenges

Hopelessness and the Washington Monument

October 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Washington_Monument_Dusk_Jan_2006Last night, I had a hopeless moment as I was running past the picturesque skyline of Washington, DC. The city is so impeccably designed, that sometimes it feels like you are traveling through some sort of movie set. You are constantly moving and the buildings just get grander and grander, until you are in front of the Monument itself. In all its’ glory, it should evoke some sort of awe and wonder – and it definitely does. It also makes you think of your size, and the size of all of the problems in your life and if they are really big or small.

Career problems, family problems, friend problems, problems that you can see within yourself. Their size is all measured as you are jogging past the monument, trying to keep your breath even and ignoring the pain in your knee and shin. This was me yesterday. I was a ball of anger.

Runners World Magazine recently had a spread on how running while stressed is actually a bad idea because of the risk of injury.I bet I was a walking risk last night. I had had one of those days where everything was negative, or at least my view on it was. It had started at work, but it had lingered in my 10 minute walk home, and remained as I begrudgingly put on my running shoes and headed out the door.

My husband can always tell when I am frustrated, and usually he knows it has something to do with work, and he is usually the voice of reason and positivity in the throes of a negative panic.

We go for the run because I am training for a half marathon, and because without running I most definitely feel worse. Running takes me away from the things that I am dwelling on, and gets me out of my neighborhood. I never run with music, so it gets me more into my head, or at least just the sounds that my body makes.

Last night those sounds were angry. As we ran along the mall, past the Monument, and towards the Lincoln Memorial, I couldn’t handle the silence between us. I knew that I was angry, and that the thing in my heart that I just couldn’t say was: Am I really where I need to be at 25? Do I make you proud? Am I moving in the right direction, or is my life a perpetual treadmill.

Instead I remained quiet until I erupted into some bitchy remarks and snide comments about how positivity is too much of a challenge, and that there are no things left to write about. Maybe this is too vulnerable a blog post to be considered “career related.”

For me, not much else makes or breaks me than the worries in my head about my life’s direction. It is the difference sometimes between an amazing run and a bad one, one with knee pain, and one that is pain-free.

All the time my husband runs beside me, waiting for me to come out of my shell, or off of the rage treadmill I have been on.

He definitely doesn’t have all of the answers – and most of us out there really don’t. We have ideas and we have theories, but mostly we are mirrors to each other. My husband would be a very good mirror if it were a career path.

When we read these blogs and we connect with people in a virtual network, we are really saying “Yes! I have also been where you are, and have been on that run, and have felt those things too.”

For me, the blog is becoming a mirror of the way that I feel about things, and most importantly, is allowing my head to figure things out for itself, so that I will be much less torturous to be around on those runs.

When we got home, after a brief continuous rant, I realized that we weren’t running anymore. We were in our studio apartment, and that the emotions and the frustrations were feeling quite suffocating in here. We weren’t under the open space of the monument, and so our conversation ended. Maybe no less closer to the answer, but certainly a lot more ready for the next race.

Categories: Career, Challenges

Taking That Deep Breath

October 13, 2009 1 comment

Yesterday, my lovely and awesome husband tricked me into running  a long way. 6 miles to be exact. We are training for a half marathon, and he decided that the best way to do this was to suggest a route for the run, instead of a distance. This way – we would just get there instead of counting mileage.

He was ABSOLUTELY correct. We took a nice job down to the Washington Monument, then over to the Lincoln Memorial, then back up through Rock Creek Parkway to our neighborhood. It was lovely. So lovely in fact that I didn’t check the pedometer once. Not ONCE!

For me, this was quite the feat. My knee was hurting at the end, and my sugar was super low. But, for the most part – I made it. I checked the meter at the end of the run, and was astounded at my own ability.

“You mean you couldn’t feel it when we got to 5K?” he asked.

No. No I could not.

What does this have to do with work, or maybe just with life? Maybe nothing. But it was certainly an interesting concept. I had tricked my body. I had tricked it by just allowing it to do its’ thing, and not think about the long term.

Though I was able to do this last night, it was truly miraculous. That is not the type of person that I am. I think about things too much. I plan careers instead of next business moves. I plan meals 5 days ahead of time. I plan vacations months in advance. I am a long-term thinker.

I have recognized in this, a terrible weakness. Every day at my current job is a step not taken in this so-called “long term” direction. Every encounter with my boss is like another dose of “wrong path, wrong decision” pills.

This mentality has overpowered the day-to-day tasks of this job (most of which I find un-fulfilling and ridiculous.) Why is it that we can be so positive in one aspect of our life, and not in another?

Is it possible to just take a deep breath and move on, and IS attitude really everything?

Each and every day I learn more and more the truth that resides in our mentality shaping our destinies – more so than anything around us. This is the lesson that I know, but one that is hard to ascribe to.

Deep breathing is a very difficult skill.

Categories: Career, Running

Loving MM?

October 12, 2009 Leave a comment
Mr. Moore promoting his newest film "Capitalism: A love Story"

Mr. Moore promoting his newest film "Capitalism: A love Story"

This past weekend, I went with my parents and my husband to see Michael Moore’s latest film about the great beast: capitalism. Now, I should qualify this post by saying that I am actually a fan of most components of socialism – but I have grown up my entire life in an extremely capitalist household, and it has influenced me.

Before I get to what I think about the film, I will begin by saying that the last time I saw a film with my father, it was Evita. You know, the four hour long one with Madonna in it. He sang through the entire film, and I couldn’t take it anymore so I got up and left the theater.

He is also one of the most frustrating people in the world to talk about life with. He is a Democratic, who hates democrats AND republicans, and thinks very highly of himself and his political views. So we went to the movie with the caviat that we wouldn’t really talk about it afterwards.

Of COURSE this didn’t happen. In the film, for those of you that haven’t seen it, Moore recounts many instances where capitalism has failed, and many where people have developed articulate and smart alternatives to it. It is, in my opinion, his best-researched film to date. It still has clip reels of funny people to move the plot along, but it has real interesting content, and a first person view of a union strike at Republic Windows and Doors that is extremely inspiring.

Overall, I liked the film, but at many parts I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into the seat, as I thought about what my father must be thinking about it.

Our generation HAS to be full of risk takers. Without this fact, we simply won’t survive. But I have been taught my whole life that it is scary to take risks. It is too hard and too difficult. You should stay in a job you hate even though you hate it – Because it is good, honest work.

After the film, my father echoed this sentiment by explaining that the problem with the world today is that we no longer operate on “ANY VALUES WHATSOEVER!”

Now, I tried to argue. It never works. So it certainly didn’t in a car at midnight. What happens to us Gen Y people that are trapped between the risk and the reality?

Moore explains that we live in a world destined to fail. But where is the encouragement from those older and wiser than us, telling us to make a change? It certainly is not in my parent’s generation.

Is it in yours?

Categories: Career