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Swimming against the tide

January 13, 2012
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I’ve been asked to do something that was difficult for me this week. To go against my better judgment. My career is at a critical juncture now. It’s sort of like I can see the great ocean of opportunity ahead before me (like in the photo via creative commons). The conventional advice would say that you never say no to opportunity. So of course I didn’t say no. When someone up in your chain of command (or even someone else’s) asks you to do something you don’t say no.

But I didn’t like that there was already a set of expectations. This idea that I should already be responsible for work before it’s even been assigned to me goes against my working pattern. I’m a pretty hierarchical person. When someone becomes my boss, even if they were my friend and confidante before, I find that I naturally begin to put some space along with deference to their position over me. If my boss hasn’t specifically asked me to do something, and in fact has resisted my attempts to get information or get involved on the project, I generally defer to that direction even if it is implicit.

It’s natural to take on increased responsibilities. But when those responsibilities are sort of a whole level above you and when you’re not even be asked, just told that the powers that be are disappointed you didn’t already take on these tasks, well it can be deflating. You see I’ve been through all this at Mega Corp many times before.

It’s pretty difficult for me to be excited to play the game when I’ve had the ball scooped up from me so many times before. Certain folks I’ve worked for have been like a demented Lucy. Every time I ask for the next step. Every time I ask them to put me in the game. Being put on the bench, or worse, getting ignored or sometimes even humiliated, really removes your motivation to play the game again.

But I have to. So I didn’t say no. However I suspect my reaction was still unwelcome. Too much of the “thou dost protest too much” kind. And I need to work on that. Try to be brave and confident going forward. Will it be different this time? Will I watch them trip me again? I have no way of knowing but if I’ve tried and tried so many times in the past and been undaunted then by failures, so why am I afraid now?

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