Friday, May 14, 2004

An unholy trinity 

Up until now I’ve tended only to post when I had something positive to say – well, most of the time anyway. But you can see how many posts that has resulted in over the last few weeks so I thought I’d try the stream-of-consciousness approach instead.

It’s been a strange week at work. With two colleagues in the US and the third out for most of the time I’ve been sat in the office with just this PC for company. The monotony only interrupted by two meetings, at which I may have said as many as half a dozen words. For someone inclined to be introspective, facing all sorts of Big Questions, being stuck in solitary confinement is not healthy.

There’s been an unholy trinity vying for my soul of late. First, there’s the rational façade. The logical thinker, the one who controls the fingers that tap the keys and forms the words that mediates between this soul and the rest of the world. He’s something of an observer; detached, scientific, but able to hold the façade together. But way TOO rational at times; in the name of realism, this guy is easily convinced that hopes and dreams may be okay for other people, but not for him.

Then there’s the new voice of authentic self. A very quiet voice as yet; uncertain, unsure of itself, not used to being heard. And all but drowned out by the other two.

And finally there’s the killjoy; the inner critic, the one who can always find a reason why things wont work – always on the grounds of realism, but he’s the one who’s determined the rest of us are going to suffer a really bad day. This guy’s really smart – he has an answer that will squash every optimistic thought. He’s a real smoothie too, taking your arm and sweet-talking you round to his way of thinking before you know what’s going on. And with very little to hold him back, he’s had a field day this week.

I’d been looking at future options, job-wise. I was looking at ways of financing counselling training. I tried to keep it as broad as I could, so started with some very simple assumptions - like I need an income. Trouble was, I was using logical, linear thought processes and before I knew what was going on, the logician and the killjoy had teamed up, forced authentic self back into his dungeon and locked the door again.

In the short term, so they said, there are only two options. The do nothing option – stay where I am – or find another role within the same organisation. Yes, I know, there are lots of other options, but these guys had me convinced. Maybe I’ll tell you about the others another time. Now, I’ve been looking for other roles ever since I joined this outfit – this is the fourth job here in seven years – and the message is slowly getting through that I simply don’t have the convincing track record for the kind of jobs I’d really rather be doing. So I was convinced I was left with the do nothing option. And the thought of that was driving me nuts. Stuck here until retirement in a job I hate, in a role that’s a complete mismatch for the person I’m coming to have faith that I am. The only viable way to survive it seemed to be to conform to the mindset that surrounds me. Become just another cynical inhabitant of a Dilbert cartoon, get absorbed in worthless trivia and leave the world to get on with it’s own business. Keep taking the tablets…

I needed a third option. Do this job, but do it authentically. Be all of the person that I hope I am. Now that wont be easy. Surrounded by negativity and cynicism, with a natural tendancy to conform, and with my most positive qualities unrecognised and in any case held to be irrelevant for this job; a job where people are seen are seen as barriers to be overcome. Sorry, my cynicism is showing again…

Hmmm… I hadn’t meant to get so deep here. Not today. This was supposed to be much lighter. Okay, I admit it, that wasn’t stream of consciousness. I ended up structuring and editing. Maybe I’ll do better tomorrow…

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