Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Plate Analogy

I have always worked hard for the things I have sought to achieve in my life because this is what I was brought up to believe is the right thing to do. No 'getting handed stuff on a plate' - a sense of entitlement is baffling and almost offensive to my ethos. Where can the sense of pride be when you have not strived for or legitimately worked towards the achievement? Personally, my conscience would not allow it if I did not think I had earned whatever the achievement or advancement was. 

I think this message was hammered home to me by my high achieving mother who taught us that nothing was out of our reach in life but that to work hard to get to where you want to be makes the achievement worthwhile and validates the success. I watched her do this all my life. I still watch it now.

So, when I wanted to progress in my previous career at University of Wolverhampton I had to apply myself, work hard from the bottom up and achieve the necessary recognition to move forward - a process which felt both organic and appropriate. When I left I was managing a team I had built and developed from scratch and I had the full belief and support of my Dept Head/Manager - one of the most inspirational mentors (and women) in my life to date. It felt right and walking away from it to come to Australia was incredibly difficult because of that. 

Similarly, when I decided to do my MBA whilst working full time it required dedication on a level I was not aware existed previously and on many nights I sat at the kitchen table between 7pm-3am typing, reading and trying to keep on top of the mammoth amount of coursework. It was a test of endurance as much as an application of knowledge and it made the finish line all the sweeter when I finally crossed it.

Over the last few weeks I have discovered quite unexpectedly that fairness and equality are MASSIVE drivers for me. I never quite realised to what extent I am personally appalled when a decision is handled without an ounce of objectivity, consideration or forethought, when it is made for convenience and with no element of a fair process in place. I guess this is why I have been starting to consider a slight change in career path - because the processes around fairness and people are the ones which at this point in my life inspire a passion and a new-found area in which to apply myself (should I ever get the chance).

This diagram kind of sums up my current mindset really:

Simple but so very true.

I don't hold much truck with folk who continually whinge about how unhappy they are but just never do anything about it and it certainly is not my style. Over the last few weeks I have combined previously learned CBT skills (how many times a year am I grateful for those tools!?) and the above analogy to figure out a plan to get me past how I feel right now. 

I feel pretty positive about the new plan so I guess I should feel grateful (almost) for the way in which a shitty situation has left me feeling, now that I have fully processed the negative emotions and learned the lessons that they have taught me.

The below diagram is not just an awesome example of typography (taken from a rather amusing list of things designers wish their clients knew) but it also represents a core belief of mine and one which I now know I need to cultivate further as a central part of my decision making going forward.

One lesson which rings true for me again and again is that when something makes you react emotionally it is pushing your buttons for a reason - to teach you something. I struggle sometimes to reign in the desire to let that emotion get the better of me, though I am getting better at it as time goes on. 

For now, I am planning, soothing myself with good things in life and looking forward with a familiar old mindset firmly in place - determination. Onwards and upwards and no dwelling on the past - karma always catches up so I am certain that at some point I can look back on this time and see it as a wonderful catalyst to a better point.