A recent conversation with a loved one sharing work challenges (i.e. inter-office drama) called forth the simple statement “Work is not your world”. As I listened to the story and shared my spin those words rang true at that moment as they have for me so many times before, “Work is not your world.”
One of the things which can disturb us like few is discord on the job. Whether it be being unappreciated, not being compensated properly, inequity in titles or treatment, being treated unfairly or viewed unfavorably, being overworked, not being heard or well-received, lack of support for advancement or plain ol’ mess with groups and/or individuals, a lot of us spend a LOT of time at work hopefully because something we do is something we love to do. To have drama in the midst of having to do what we researched on, applied for, interviewed for, prayed about, told our loved ones about, posted on, prepared for and committed to show up to do is a bummer, a real bummer.
The good news is, “work is not your world.” It’s as simple as that. Yes, the environment might be uncomfortable. Yes, the people might be “interesting”. Yes, people might be paid more than you for less work than you do. Yes, you might have envisioned yourself being further along or somewhere else way before this point in time. Yes, your boss might be totally wrong in his/her actions. Yes, systems might not be in place which need to be. Yes. Yes. Yes to all of that which might be going on, BUT “work is not your world.” So with that said:
Pray before you go to work, while there and when you leave.
Place your “challenges and challengers” at the top of the list in a sincere, God-approved way, of course.
Do your best, especially in times of challenge.
There is never a good time for slacking, but when trouble is brewing is certainly not the time as you want to maintain your excellence and perception of excellence at all times (in other words, don’t give your challengers or challenges any proof that they were right.)
Get a life…outside of work.
Be sociable, but don’t find all your friends at work. Don’t put all of your eggs in the proverbial job basket.
Learn all you can about what to do and what not to do in leadership while there.
Avoid the water cooler or coffeepot talk about the negative things going on as to not let it further frustrate you.
Don’t get caught up in the unprofessional actions or reactions of others.
Ask God why you are still there and be open to the wonderful reasons why even if they don’t feel like it.
Go home when it’s time and leave work where it belongs.
When challenged by situations revolving around co-workers or work-related scenarios think of your loved ones and who and what really matters.
And MOST IMPORTANTLY….
Do not, I repeat. Do not ever forget that your job is just a resource. There’s a Source so much bigger than your 9am to 5pm, 11pm to7am or 4am to 4pm. God’s got you! He knows what He’s doing, why He’s doing it, what He’s allowing, how it’s working for your good and when He’s going to move you up, move you out or move you right on up out of there.
Let me just say, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for a job. I’m super grateful for a job which offers vacation and personal time. I’m grateful for the last couple of weeks I’ve been off, BUT I feel like someone stole my holidays…and I want them back, or at least more of them.
So in honor of the things I have enjoyed since I clocked out on December 17th I present to you this list of things I will miss on Monday.
Sleeping in, at least until 6am.
Wearing leggings and jeggings everyday.
Waking up to Michael Strahan. *wink, wink*
Planning which Alabama shirt I would wear. #rolltide
Covering my head with cute hats, sans the curling or combing.
Talking on the phone at my leisure.
Listening to Christmas music and my niece’s Wiz CD (Don’t tell them I said that, as I’ve convinced them I’m tired of hearing it).
Watching Lacey Chabert, the girl who stars in just about every, single Hallmark Channel Christmas movie, A Different World in the morning and giggle-inducing Chrisley Knows Best marathons.
Sleepovers at my parents.
ESPN whenever I want it, on TVs throughout the house.
Stealing cheese straws from my mother.
Watching my nieces learn to skate and ride bikes.
Polishing my toes purple in the middle of the day.
Grimacing while riding the treadmill at the Y and not knowing if it was from the three miles I tried to get in or the scary episodes of Law and Order SVU plastered on the big screen in front of me.
Saying “Roll Tide” and “Merry Christmas” sometimes right behind each other.
Sharing HILARIOUS memes and screenshots at random times during the day with my mommy, sister, aunt and cousins.
Lemon Pepper Hot Wings from Alabaster Courtyard.
Family holiday functions and fun with friends of old.
So, as I mentioned, there’s SO much for which I am grateful. I’m also hopeful for the future and the next time of respite and relaxation.
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.)
Let’s face it. That whole separation of work and life can seem impossible at times. Maintaining a sense of professionalism, positivity, energy and gratefulness in the workplace can feel like an impossible and unfair task when there’s a mini or major storm brewing in our personal lives. And still, we’re expected to be present, perform well, play nice (as in get along with others for the greater good), and pretend as if what’s happening outside of the walls of work aren’t happening to the person who just so happens to be within the walls of work.
I’ve had my fair share of days where the mere thought of having to face another human being and represent whichever company I was working for felt like someone asking me to snatch my hair out strand by strand…and I’m talking my real hair. Having to work through years of sickness, pressing family matters, deaths of loved ones, financial nightmares (or so they seemed), and marital issues when said issue was with your (now ex) husband who also happened to be your boss is not for the faint of heart. I mean, who wants to put on make up and a happy face and function in front of thousands on television as I had to at one point in my life or in the midst of any other people? It hurts, frightens and disrupts peace like the dickens to sometimes have to work as if we’re not hurting, frightened or disrupted at least until we clock out for the day or call it a night.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work for 20 years professionally now. In past careers I’ve supervised several interns. For seven years I was the official/unofficial “HR” representative for a staff of up to 25 full-time and part-time ministry workers. I’ve also been able to supervise as many as 40 AmeriCorps members (look us up at www.ywcabham.org/americorps) at one time. One thing all of these experiences and certainly my own have taught me is that humans have issues and sometimes those issues seep into our work or service whether we know it or not, and whether we want it to or not. We all have a backstory that we bring to the big stage of life, even at work. The signs of what those issues might manifest could be change in attitude, calling in frequently, unproductiveness, being present (but not), problems with other co-workers, isolating others, change in appearance, and overall frustration (however it chooses to show that there is frustration).
So what can we do to try to make the best out of some of our bad situations until the bad gets better so that our job, service and sanity stay in tack? Great question. Glad you asked.
Be honest enough to admit there is a personal problem.
Talk to someone at work who can help.
Having someone to vent to and talking to someone who can help are two different things. We should stay away from those in the same situations as we are, or those who are negative who may tend to bring or keep us down. We have to rely on those, like our supervisors or some who have been where we are who can help us strategically cope and continue to function well at work.
Disclose health problems or need for reasonable accommodations.
Take time for self.
A nice walk around the building, a real 15 minute break, an hour at the gym, appropriately timed chit-chat with our favorite uplifting work buddy, or 30 minutes of a meal and 30 minutes of reading our favorite book or watching our favorite Netflix sitcom during our lunch break can mean a world of difference.
Utilize the Employee Assistance Programs or counseling if offered, especially if it’s free.
Daily find things at work for which to be grateful.
We can carry those thoughts through the day and when we return back to what’s awaiting at home.
Get ample amounts of sleep and rest. (There is a difference. You know?)
Keep it positive.
Calming music at our desk, inspiring Post-it notes around our cubicle, refreshing verses we can quickly read when needed at work and a proper mental perspective can help.
Place problems appropriately.
We have to be certain not to take our personal problems out on the people around us from 9-5 or 6-2 in my case.
Our situations will one day change for the better. We want to be certain they don’t leave an inaccurate, lasting impression at work or with anyone.
We should readily recognize the heightened possibility for an increase in anger, sarcasm, laxness, blame, misunderstandings, discouragement or sluggishness and not let that be what others see in us.