Jul 15, 2010

Ambition or Pride or whatever else gets in the way

I don't think of myself as ambitious. I've never wanted to be the CEO, or even a very senior manager. But whatever job I'm doing, I always want to do well. More than well. I want to be impressive and have others look to me with awe and respect and gratitude for the wonderful work that I do. I want to be sought out for opinions and correct process, esteemed for my knowlege and liked and respected for my ability with staff and customers and projects and getting things done. I can't help it. I can't switch it off. And I don't know whether it's pride or ambition or work eithic or just plain fear and insecurity (hello again you two...).

I hate the thought that someone at work might be less than pleased with the way I have handled something; get anxious when I feel things turning out less than ideally through a combination of rush, resourcing shortcuts, systemic complexity, corporate bureaucratic madness or some other not-my-fault insanity. It's important to me to do a job well and to be seen to do a job well.

So lucky me - I don't have enough of whatever-this-is to propel me into senior jobs with more money - just enough to keep me anxious and competitive and hamstring my efforts to scale back and achieve some modicum of "work life balance".

Exhibit A. Since I started at my company, my workload has been insane. Since making "Vice President" (whoo-hoo) my workload has been insane AND bonus! carries ten times the responsibility and visibility along with it (and thank you GFC, no real increase in salary). So recently this all came to a head with my boss and I having something of a showdown which was not only cathartic but beneficial - because in the following days, she re-arranged workloads, scaled back demands and created a restructure to balance the work more fairly across the management team. All this is good right? And it's what I wanted and needed. AND YET! As she's talking through all this and going out of her way to involve me and ensure I'm OK with it, some words start coming out of my mouth. I'm concerned what this means for my position, my staff numbers are smaller than the other managers, am I still responsible for the same areas, blah blah blah blah what?! Even as I'm talking, I am listening to myself and thinking, What are you doing?! shut up you idiot!

Is this normal or stupid or both?!


  1. I'd say it's a bit of both. You've been working at 150% for more than the last ten years- it's going to feel strange when your perceived responsibilities have lessened. It's not a put down as you head is yelling at you.
    It's a lesson in learning how to be kind to yourself.

  2. Thank you Pand, a very timley reminder! I think I'm just a big dork when it comes to work. Sigh.



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