Now that I have your attention let me say “Gotcha”!!!!!! Surely you didn’t think I would peck out a post about side-chicks in the urban sense of the term. No ma’am. No sir. Not here. Not ever. This post is for the professional woman who has found or finds herself as the 2nd in command, the behind the scenes builder-upper, the “doo-wop-bop” background girl, the right hand woman, the vice to the president, the assistant to the director, the make it happen helper or whatever the title may be.
While brushing my hair recently, a thought more than 15 years old came to mind. I was reminded of the time I worked as a Special Projects Producer at a local television station in Birmingham, AL and uncovered a development in major, major decades old civil rights story. News of the discovery, which involved a sensitive time in history, spread around the country. Soon national talk shows were calling me. I was excited about the possibility of going to Los Angeles to appear on the Leeza Gibons Show. We were working out the details. My parents were proud, especially my Daddy. Then, out of what seemed to be nowhere at the time, I was told I wouldn’t be able to go to the show, but instead the anchor for which I was writing for and working with would go. The words of the hit Gap Band chart topper “You dropped a bomb on me, baby” rose up in me like too much food at a hot State Fair. I was devastated. I was discouraged. I was angry! I was H-O-T, and, in my less mature stage at the time I probably let someone know it. (BTW…The talk show appearance never panned out, and just a month or so later I found a great, new job.)
I wish I could say that was my first and last dip into the professional pool of “chick on the side”, but it wasn’t. I’ve spent a great deal of time as someone’s second. For seven years I worked full-time in ministry with my former husband. I was COO to his CEO, which meant a lot of my thoughts and ideas were welcomed, implemented and appreciated by some, and a whole lot more of them were not. That’s the skinny on that which I choose to divulge. I’ve done the same in careers more recently and prior to. I’ve been a COTS…a Chick on the Side. The fact of the matter is, it’s hard being the business chick on the side. The responsibilities are high. The pay, at least in my cases, is certainly not. The position can be supported. The position can also feel stifling. The pedestal of expectations is lofty. The path to discouragement at the actions of others can go low. The passion is often present. The motivation to carry on in the midst of madness can fizzle like a bottle of 7-Up with the top left off. The ‘I’m glad to be here” is awesome. The “I’m so over this” is awful. The prestige of the position can be intoxicating. The “real deal, behind the scenes truth” can be suffocating. The love of the people can be uplifting. The loss of that love can be gut-wrenching.
So what’s a girl to do? Glad you asked. Not that I plan on being a COTS (Chick on the Side) all of my life, but if the Lord values my gifts from Him enough to trust me to use them to uplift others then the least I can do is:
- Pray for the leader(s).
- Be grateful for my position, regardless.
- Be grateful that I don’t have to carry the full weight of the job even if it feels like it sometimes, and especially when things go awry.
- Watch out for, try to help avoid, learn from and never repeat the mistakes of others.
- Borrow from the brilliance of others. (No need in being that close and not catching some of what’s flowing from the top.)
- Stay humble. (Pride can attack a COTS like nobody’s business, especially in the area of hurt feelings. Ask me how I know.)
- Develop my passions while trying to help others live theirs.
- Keep the gritty and grimy confidential (a perfect COTS keeps it quiet.)
- Stay motivated for now, and definitely for later.