Sunday, May 06, 2012

Hunters of Heads

Let's say I get an annual report card as this is not inaccurate and I've just admired Little Ones marks for this year as she completes here 1st grade studies. 

There are, more or less, four areas of assessment in my particular area of Industry.  We could call them Major Projects, Taxes, Soft Skills and Overall Impression.  Now, regardless of how depressed or miserable, unmotivated or self-destructive I have been, I get stuff done.  So whether the projects are high profile or menial labor, I score reasonably high on the first two. 

The Overall Impression, it turns out, suffers a bit when you're miserable and self-destructive.  Perhaps you don't show up at work for a day (or week) or two.  Cancel travel at the last minute because you simply can't be bothered.  Roll your eyes at meetings and sigh over assigned tasks, correct in your predictions that none of this is going to matter anyway.  And when you're unhappy and (mostly) sincere, people - whether external collaborators or high-level executives - notice that you think most of this is bullshit. 

And then you get a Poor on Soft Skills, even though you're capable of cashmere-quality soft skills, which triggers (despite reasonable scores elsewhere) Plans.  Formal Plans.  With deadlines and reviews and everything. 

"I actually prefer this," I told Adam when he told me.  Then I got viciously angry, feeling terribly betrayed, and decided I'd just leave.  And that would show them.  Train someone else!  Start from scratch!  Even though I can do most of this even while I think it's sucky and stupid!  "At least I'll know what you want and how to execute on a plan - I've been asking for a plan for ages."

But as I spent time with my parents and increasing amounts of time in prayer, the anger - as requested - eased.  Acceptance of how badly I'd performed in some instances and what I wanted from my professional life occupied enough of my attention that when I returned to the office, I felt stable and strong and productive.  And though I wasn't necessarily happy and hopeful - flitting about like a happy fairy among fields of delicate flowers - I was quietly encouraging and focused on steps we could reasonably take. 

And the official form for the Plan began to turn green as the leaves budding on trees.  I showed up when my calendar indicated I should.  I spent lots of time at my desk and even more moving around between labs and conference rooms, visibility a clear goal.  When I needed breaks, I went for lunch or to run an errand rather than fleeing home to pajamas and nap time.  I stopped wincing every time my phone rang.  I caught up on emails I'd not wanted to answer and started managing various tasks through happy spreadsheets and pretty PowerPoints.

"It's going so well," Adam mused as we last chatted.  "I'm really pleased so we've shortened the duration of the Plan and we'll have this out of the way in no time."

"Great," I smiled, relieved even as I was puzzled by how easily my formal Plan could morph and shorten in my favor.  I shook my head over how very much power Adam has over my career and thought back on the conversation I'd had with Friend on how boredom seems to set in after 3-4 years.  How it starts to feel like you should be doing something different, new, challenging - this quest toward eternal youth by way of novel places and projects.

So I've been thinking - a lot, actually - about what comes next.  Do I stay, satisfied that I've corrected past mistakes and doing something that I'm absolutely blessed to do?  Or do I leave, returning home in a different industry, unrelated to my education and background.  I have zero desire to return to academic research - even looking at job listings makes me shudder with distaste.  But I can do office work - manage projects and handle customers and make nifty lists and pretty presentations.

"Someone called when you were asleep," Dad informed me on Friday.  I rubbed at the headache my nap hadn't eased and swallowed a Tylenol as I checked my messages, blinking with surprise.  "Who was it?" he asked, ever curious.

"It was a head hunter - my first head hunter," I grinned, absurdly flattered.  "A competitor is interested in my background so she wants me to call back to discuss opportunities."

"Ask them to give you lots of money," he advised and I smiled and shook my head.  I have more money than I really need.  But I should identify what qualities matter - how I can feel productive and peaceful and happy.

In the meantime, Mom's breast surgery is tomorrow morning - 7AM Central time.  If you could send prayers and thoughts and strength to us, I'd be grateful.     


JaneB said...

Prayers - and thankfulness that being on a Plan actually helped. I do hate vagueness, and seem to swim in it at the moment...

Anonymous said...

Thoughts and prayers out to you and your family, Katie. Incidentally, I've been having similar career thoughts as you.

Gorgeous flower photos, BTW.


Anonymous said...

Thoughts and prayers. Stunning flowers btw.

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