Let’s agree that 2020 is not what we had in mind – like, at all. The plans of diving into a new year, and decade at that, seemed exciting. A new year brings the opportunity of growth matched with a feeling of immense nerves that come with the possibility of the great unknown. But, let's be real, we certainly came face-to-face with the unknown and it hasn't been pretty.
Luckily, that isn’t the end of our story.
It’s the being treated like a KPI for me.
Can you imagine going into work every day and feeling like you don’t fit in? Now, not just feeling like the black sheep in the room, but literally looking around the office to find you are the only black woman there. It’s more appropriate to say my dear friend was a unicorn in an enclosed pasture of privileged livestock, but nevertheless it didn’t get any easier. Especially the day she was let go (during a pandemic). It didn’t make sense for the person who accepted a stretch assignment to be pushed out as soon as things turned ugly… but, that’s life. And just as I expected, she took time to recharge her mind, refocus her career path, and push onward and upward.
When Goldman Sachs invited her for a second-round interview, she politely declined. After the final round (five) interviews in one day led to an offer at McKinsey, she said “thanks, but no thanks.” If you’re wondering “what” “why” “how”, then you may have never been the person in a room who questioned if you belong. After years of working longer hours and feeling underappreciated, she knew this was an opportunity to find the right organization and culture for her. In fact, she did so at Fortune 100 company and found herself in a supportive and inclusive environment that felt right. Not to mention a global leadership role that allows her the visibility she deserves.
It’s the toxic environment for me.
Imagine yourself racing other caterpillars, moving slowly but putting all the marbles in and feeling fully committed. But, as you just transform into a butterfly, you ask “what are all these moths doing around me?” Where were the warning signs? The big red 'exit' button? Or, even, the missed opportunity to #JumpShip?
This next perspective is from someone who recently faced a serious decision, to leave or not to leave. I think the best way to tell her story is through that life and lemons saying. When life gives you lemons, you have a choice. The choice is yours to assess what you have and what you need in your life at that time. When life gives you lemons you can make lemonade, or you can leave those GD lemons behind. And, guess what, she in fact said goodbye.
It’s the gratitude for me.
The unknown is a give and take space. If you accept with good there can be an equal and opposite force to test, challenge, and push you then #kudos for self-preparation. But, can one really imagine three different storms in what already feels like a year of severe turbulence? This is the reality for so many in Louisiana. Specifically, a good friend and his partner faced this harsh reality one too many times this year. When we caught up after each occurrence, it shouldn’t have surprised me, but his overwhelming sense of gratitude was inspiring. Instead of dwelling in his loss, he was grateful to have the things in his life that meant the most. He had his partner, their health, and a company that supported and stood by him through these tough circumstances.
Creating culture isn’t creating conclusions.
The unknown can be scary, intimidating, and disruptive. However, these stories each share a different perspective of people facing the unknown and transforming it into opportunity. There’s opportunity to pivot your career and focus on the things that make you feel whole. There’s the opportunity to jump in the driver seat and chase a work environment that you feel you can spread your wings and thrive. And, the opportunity to accept you cannot control some things, but within gratitude you will find peace.
If you find your organization is reacting before leaning in, let’s pump the brakes. In order to understand what’s really going on with your business, it's critical to listen to your people before assuming you have all the answers in a played-out playbook.