Remember: No Matter What, You're in Charge of Your Career.
I hate to tell you this, but your career will most certainly not go to plan.
You’ll be denied that promotion you deserve. Or maybe your new boss will turn out to be a jerk, or a spineless wimp, or a bit clueless. Or maybe you’ll be saddled with a project you don’t want. Or maybe you’ll have a health crisis that will keep you out of the game for a spell.
None of it will be your fault. But the consequences will be yours to live with.
Ten years ago, I sat in a meeting with two of my bosses (I actually had three at the time), as they told me that a product I built and launched and grew to profitability was being transferred to another division of the company. There were all kinds of reasons that was a bad idea, but when I stated them, I was told that my attitude was unacceptable and that I needed to be more of a “team player”.
Ugh. Not my favorite term.
At first, I was angry about the unfairness of it all, but then, right there in the meeting, something amazing happened. It was as if someone had flipped a switch in my head. I swear I actually heard the click.
I realized: I don’t have to work here anymore.
And suddenly, I was in charge. I told them I understood and left the room. The next day, I began networking. And six months later, when I walked out the door with a package, I had options. Lots of them.
You are not powerless. This is your career. You’re in charge of your experience. You’re in charge of what you take from it and what you give to it. But mostly, you’re in charge of how you respond to its challenges.
Sometimes, being in charge means letting go and moving on. And sometimes, being in charge means digging deeper and making the most of what you have, where you are.
It’s about asking yourself: What can I make of this?
You may have had a project blow up in your face, but you learned a lot from it. Or your financial situation may make it unwise to quit right now, but the experience you're gaining will make you highly marketable in a year or two. It could be that your jerk/spineless/clueless boss is helping to hone your communication and influence skills.
Maybe, just maybe, there’s a hint of possibility, even in the darkness.
An essay by Valarie Kaur has a beautiful line in it that I think about often: “What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?”
In other words, what if the loss loss a product, or a promotion or a job, isn’t about the death of something, but rather, about something new wanting to be born?
So, let me ask another question: What inside of you is wanting to be born?
You don’t have to wait for tragedy, pain and suffering to jolt you into action. Too often we wait for things to be born of necessity. But what if they could be born of love?
Why not? After all, you’re in charge.