Saturday, October 19, 2013


I was thinking about how my work schedule has changed since leaving my last job. It got me to thinking about the advantages of having worked in a corporate environment that have greatly benefited what I'm doing now.

I have been fortunate in my career to have 1.) Run a company and 2.) Worked for the man , so I have two completely different perspectives.

When I ran a business years ago, working independently with handling everything (except employees, since there were none), I learned about keeping self-imposed deadlines. I learned the importance of managing finances, marketing, and how not to make home feel like work. That sales meant pay and if you didn't sell, you didn't earn, as where a corporate job has a stable paycheck. I learned the importance of benefits, because I had none, nor could afford them. I learned how to manage my time effectively.

So it was a huge culture shock when I left that job after seven years to work for a corporate organization. I began in the file room as a temp and learned how to be humble and work hard. When I got hired, we didn't have training for any of the systems or processes because it was so new. And that was no easy feat. We worked in cubicles and the systems and rules were changing on a daily basis. We acquired new business, our work continually changed, and we had to learn to acclimate and accept change.

As a result of wanting to be the best at my job, I positioned myself as the point person in our area. I made it my job to learn our systems inside out, write training material and procedures, and make sure everyone understood how to do their job and resolve their own issues. I was the SME (Subject matter expert) in our department, promoted to trainer at one point, became a lead, and eventually a specialist. I worked on the most mundane tasks and also multi-million dollar projects within our company, because the manager singled me out as the person who could get it done, and get it done right. I learned that having a job is not about a set of defined tasks, but being flexible to stretch yourself beyond what is set for your expectations, even if it meant working 12 hours a day, including weekends.

The job became overwhelmingly stressful. The requirements were restrictive. The average worker could make a minimum of 500 errors per day, and it only took up to 4 a year to get you fired. Quality was held to the highest standard, but so was volume. Over the past few years, I'd been offered the supervisor position three times and turned it down. It was never about the money for me, but that position didn't offer what I wanted to do. So I learned to never do things for the money. I enjoyed the technical side of troubleshooting our systems, finding defects, coming up with workarounds, and developing changes in the process. those around me said I wasn't valued, that management was taking advantage of me, and I should get out.

Which was true. I shouldn't have been doing all the things I was doing for the amount I got paid. But I wouldn't trade it.

That job taught me a lot of things that I'm able to apply to working as a full-time author that the self-employment job did not. I learned how to troubleshoot system issues. That's key because I not only work on the computer all day, but I work in Word, Gimp, conversion programs, etc. to do my job. I've learned to format and convert my work, develop my own covers, and the importance of backing up files. I've also learned to adapt to changing environments, when to delegate tasks, to strive for high quality and high production, to learn from mistakes, and how to coordinate a project and keep it on target. It also taught me that when I make a mistake, it affects more than my pay or job, but I learned how to take into consideration how it directly impacted our customers.

Maybe things happen for a reason. On my exit, I had a talk with the director. I told him that I believed everything that company gave me were tools for where I was going next. And who knows, maybe what I'm doing now is giving me the tools I need to be where I'll be in 15 more years.

I think that's how we need to look at our life. Sometimes we're in positions that seem hopeless, are working jobs that don't make sense or test our sanity, but perhaps there is something valuable you will take away from that without realizing it. Maybe not until much later, when you are where you are supposed to be in life. It might be something that helps you with your current job, or maybe it helped teach you humility, the value of working as a team, or simply how to appreciate your life when things do get better. Sometimes it's a struggle to wake up and get through the day, but there might be a purpose to it all. Be open to that idea.

It's also a struggle to climb to the top of a mountain. Your life is full of stepping stones, so take a moment to look around as you go and enjoy the view. But keep moving. Don't be afraid to take leaps, and never be afraid of falling. You can always get back up, but you'll never know how far you can go unless you try.

1 comment:

  1. Very true! Since I was six, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. My guidance counselor funneled me through a secretarial program because according to my socioeconomics I would not be able to amount to anything more. I accepted the numerous secretarial classes such as typing, steno, accounting, and various others over the years while groaning to myself of how I didn't need them. However, now, I am so glad I took those classes. They have helped me in so many ways. At this stage in my life, I enjoy being a teacher but I know there is another change in my future coming and I will be embracing it. The key is to have a positive outlook among all the adversity you may face and all will fall into place.