For years I was in Corporate America, and I could never quite get “-ized”. You know, when you work for the big company and must learn to communicate in their language, act a certain way, understand their acronyms and behave as expected. I just never quite got the hang of it.
There was one phrase I heard over and over again: “you are a very strong person.”
It was always stated in a thinly concealed manner translating into a bad quality meaning that I should learn to conform. The hair on my arms would stand up when I would hear that phrase. I heard it a lot in my personal relationships, too.
Strong willed, independent, driven, motivated, unrelenting, committed, tough, dogged – these are just some of the nicer words that were used. The way they were implied was that these were bad things. Shame on me, I should just put my head down, keep my mouth shut and learn to blend.
I don’t blend well. It isn’t who I am, or how I was reared.
I struggled for years that one quality that defined me as an individual was the one quality that seemed to be hurting me the most professionally and personally. I struggled with the expectation and desire of everyone else wanting me to change to fit their expectation or being true to myself.
I won. Finally.
But it took me traveling a strange, tangle path to reach the point where I figured it out.
Long story short the one thing that made me an outcast or un-“ized”-able in my previous positions is what makes me rock in what I do now. Yes, I just made up the word un-ized-able – whatever.
You see, my strength in being straight forward and communicating what people need to hear rather than what they want to hear is a great asset for my clients. That doggedness makes sure that they do not give up on themselves, I’m always here, I don’t give up.
There may be a conflict between who you are and what you are doing and I know the internal stress that can cause on a person. Looking back I realize it wasn’t until just recently that I was meant to discover the connection, the purpose and the value.
I had to go through the torturous activities of failing at being ized-able before I could fully appreciate where I am now and what I have to offer. While going through that process I learned as much as I could and attempted to see the value in where I was at the time because it would only help me moving forward.
I learned finance, management and communication skills from some of the most amazing people.
I learned how not to talk to people and how not to manage.
I learned how to appreciate individual contributors, at every level.
I learned how to analyze and trust my gut.
I learned how to play nice with the big boys and bite my tongue without severing it.
I learned people have different motivations for greatness, and understanding them greatly benefits everyone involved.
I learned that doing the right thing is not always the popular thing.
I learned to apologize and mean it.
I learned to ask questions and not be afraid for my lack of knowledge.
I learned that kindness translates to every level of an organization from the CEO to the mail clerk.
I learned that everyone has dreams, goals and inspirations and none of them are trivial.
I learned we have more in common than we do in opposition, finding the common ground is key.
I learned not everyone cares about what they do as much as you do, and that is ok.
I learned not everyone thinks, learns or performs duties the same way; it doesn’t mean it is wrong.
I learned I always have more to learn.
You may not be where you are supposed to be – yet. But look at it as an opportunity to learn other lessons important for your growth, development and journey. There is something positive about what you are doing, what is it? How are you adding value right now?
And that one thing that gives you the greatest conflict – you will figure it out. Once the other lessons are learned it will all make sense. In the meantime, what can you learn right now?
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW