There is someone I used to work with that always tells me he is so proud of me. He says I’m one of the most brilliant women he’s ever met in my industry and I impress him. He also says he recognizes and has seen firsthand that I’ve been taken advantage of, had my ideas stolen, not been recognized for my work and have been put in a position where others didn’t back me that should have. While these are not positive experiences, he tells me each time to never settle. Keep doing what is right and using that brilliant brain of mine to do good things. Some day someone is going to recognize it like he has and be in a position to make great things happen.
I appreciate those words. Here is someone that has seen me be kicked down at work and is there to help me stand back up. He gets it and encourages me in the best way he can. A friend and coworker that we all deserve to have in our corner when things get rocky. Though not in a position to change the circumstances, he is there rooting for me all the time. Even when we no longer work together because we’ve moved on to other companies, I can reach out to him and he will say these things to me. His belief in me is astounding and at times many times more stronger than my own in myself; especially when I’ve been knocked down again.
I don’t believe the misfortunes I’ve had in my career have anything to do with me being a woman. Maybe the do but I don’t feel that way about it. More than anything I have seen men and women treat each other poorly in the workplace. Most companies are setup to be highly competitive and title driven so anytime there is power, money, position and ego involved there is going to be political games played for the advantage. It is the core of how corporate America works. We put up with it of course because we rely on those incomes to support our families.
When it comes to settling, I have done a fair amount of that in my career out of necessity. We do what we must to take care of those we love and we sacrifice a lot of our time, energy and talent to accomplish that. I have however settled at those times I didn’t have any more fight in me and needed rest. It feels all too often corporate work runs us hard until we have nothing left and we reach this place of settling and giving up. We settle for jobs we tolerate and just do what we need to until we can log off for the day. We give up the idea we can meaningfully make a difference, present ideas that will be accepted and have potential to move up. It’s no longer worth it at a certain point we all seem to reach.
Some would call it burnout. That point where you are exhausted, overwhelmed and unable to continue pushing ahead. Perhaps that’s where it starts but when you reach the point of settling I believe you are past the burnout stage. You have tried recovery from it and it just keeps coming at you. You realize there is more to life than continuing to fight this battle that isn’t even yours to fight and you seem to be the only one that really cares. You let the corporate bully win and go find a quiet space to bury yourself in work and focus on other things in your life that do bring you joy. Work is work and no one is happy doing it so why should you be any different?
In talking with the people that reported to me at the time I felt this most recently, I realized they were at this point too. It wasn’t my management style or leadership approach but rather it was the environment we all tried to swim in. The turbulence in the water that made the wave so large they were impossible to fight so we had to flow with them to avoid drowning. It was just time to not bother anymore because whatever we did wasn’t helping make it better. Whatever we wanted to change wasn’t being looked at as aligned with leadership who really didn’t understand what we did anyway. So why bother? Let’s just do what they ask and go home to our families.
This all sounds so deflating doesn’t it? That feeling of dread for going into work day after day to float until we don’t have to be there anymore. The recognition that company values and messages of caring are just expensively written words that have no meaning in the day to day execution of work. Thriving together, collaboration, trust and loyalty are propaganda meant to give you that false sense of security that your opinion matters. It doesn’t. If you’re not in the club of special leaders who wield the power of decisions then you are usually wasting your time. It is the same corporation after corporation. They pat you on the head, tell you good job and then go back to what they were doing and deciding.
We settle for that treatment too. We give up the power that we have a choice in that situation because looking for another job that does the same thing to us is just as exhausting. So we settle where we are and try to make the best of it. We try not to let them get to us and pack away our inspiration, creativity and hopes for better quietly away as we hide in our gray cubicle to work. Oh the times I have stared at those gray fabric walls and wanted to yell! Yet I just held it in true thick skinned way we are taught and waited for the clock to click 5.
If we want to truly change the situation of settling we have to change our path. We have to completely stop going from job to job thinking one will be different than the other. We have to stop giving away our power to corporations praying one day we can rise above to the special leaders group and finally implement what we know is right. We have to stop wasting our brilliant brains on companies that are intimidated by us. We have to stop giving up and settling.
My friend is right that I should never settle. Even though I put up with corporate life now I have found a new way to fight. I have forged my own path to lessen the dependency on corporations who force me to settle. I have found a way to manifest into reality the ability to use my brilliant brain in ways that do create good in the world. Anyone who starts their own business while working in a job they have been forced to settle in knows what I’m talking about too. Even if you are selling a product you captured that faint streak of hope you can change the game you are forced to play at your settled in job.
Don’t settle. Never settle. It won’t be easy and you’ll have to balance both for a while but don’t give up. You can overcome this deflating situation and reclaim your ability to live as you were meant to and have work that encourages you. Work that fills your soul, gives you purpose and independence. Anything that gives you that level of energy is worth pursuing. Granted we all have to work in this life so why not work at something that you can pour your gifts into? Your creativity, innovation and all the things that your job doesn’t appreciate and holds you back on.
If you’re ready, chat with me at dragonspitapothecary.com and let’s get you started.