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Nothing's changed, but everything feels different

A red neon sign saying "same shit, different day". January has been an interesting experience - it should have gone to shit, but in the end I had a really good feeling. How come?
January has been an interesting experience - it should have gone to shit, but in the end I had a really good feeling. How come? | Credit: Pexels.
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// Every month, I send a text born out of my experience and my reflections - like this one. Sometimes with learning and sometimes with unresolved dilemma, I share how it feels to be a corporate activist. If you'd like to receive the next ones directly in your mailbox, here is where to subscribe - it comes with a no-spam promise  😇 // 

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Hiya my friend,

 

The first month of the year is gone already!

 

Interestingly, I have experienced this month in a completely opposite way to what I had expected. 🤔

 

I had been apprehensive about January because the end of last year has been SO demanding and I entered the Xmas break feeling SO exhausted.  

 

And knowing that 2020 would be no different. Or even worse.

 

The business results would remain a source of pressure on the teams to deliver as quickly as possible - forget about acceleration, crash mode is the new normal...

 

The workload to resource equation would remain a tension point, with ever more priorities coming through but no cavalry in sight to help.

 

The challenging people around me would still need extra attention and energy. It is easier when everybody is rested and at its best, but tensed situations don’t change because of 2 weeks holidays...

 

If that wasn't enough as a dooming perspective, I also knew that there were a couple of additional challenges to be taken care of as from 1st of Jan. 

 

For instance, there is a new team reporting into me but with many vacancies and no managers left to take care of the daily routine.

 

So I conveniently ignored all of this for a while and I had a lovely holiday break, full of sleep, family time and a whole lot of not taking any decisions for a change...🤣

 

But the Sunday before back-to-work, I had a frantic house cleaning frenzy. That’s what I do when I feel stressed and out of control. It’s apparently a very common coping mechanism to direct your attention to what you can control.

 

Although I wasn't able to articulate it on the spot, my bad mood and sudden desire to tick off all the chores on the to do list on the same day was a clear sign that I was dreading going back to work.

 

So I entered my first day and my first week with apprehension, yet at my great surprise I ended it in a pretty good mood. 

 

I thought that it had to do with the fact that I had a full day of face to face meeting with my team that week, and since we can't do that very often, it always gives me energy to see them. And not everybody was back on the first week, my boss wasn't back yet for instance, so we were not back to full speed mode yet. Or so I thought.

 

But then I also felt that good after the second week. And also after the third, and the fourth.

 

Despite the travelling, the stress, the disruptive last minute requests, the budget changes and other annoyances coming from the uncertainty of an organization under reorganization - I was coming back home on Friday night with a good feeling. 😏

 

It was so unexpected it got me curious, where was this coming from? I was working just as hard as the month before and the job was just as challenging - if not more - but my experience of it was radically different…

 

How come? What could I learn from it?

 

I started reflecting on what that good vibe was made of - I felt satisfaction, I felt pride. An energizing feeling glowing in the tummy, compensating for the tiredness and putting a smile on my face. 

 

I started analysing my weeks - where was the energy coming from? What was making me proud? 

 

I realised that the difference was not in how hard I was working but how impactful my work was. I was not just delivering slides, analysis, projects in a reactive and painful way, but I was investing in new ways of working that set us up as a team to be one step ahead of the game.

 

I realised that my team was taking on new ways of working, new mindsets, new reflexes, new postures, and that would help us increase our credibility and ability to shape the future we'll have to deal with in 6 or 9 months.

 

The pride was coming from the satisfaction of seeing the change you have triggered. It’s the pleasure of witnessing the power of transformation and seeing its positive effect. 👀

 

THAT is the difference between the energy draining, running behind the facts approach of last month and the energy generating, response to transformation of this month. 

 

My month was hard and challenging and complex and uncertain, like I had expected. But it was also sweet and satisfying, and after thinking about it I realised it was because it wasn’t only costing me energy, in a perpetual attempt to fill in a bottomless pit. 

 

This month I had energy come back at me when I witnessed the effect of my initiatives trigger positive change. I could see the impact of the changes I set up. And it made all my efforts and frustrations worthwhile. 

 

It reminded me that I can't control how much work is coming to me, but I can control how I deliver it. It does not change how much I need to work and work remains demanding and tiring, but I can take action to trigger energy coming back to me. 

 

I've made a commitment to myself to wake up earlier next time I am stuck in a downward energy draining spiral, and to take action sooner to trigger initiatives that fill me with positive feelings. 

 

I might just have stumbled onto the spoonful of sugar that makes the corporate medicine go down.😆

 

Let me know if you've been through similar experiences - being surprised of how good it can feel to go to work, despite all odds! What did you learn from it?

 

And don't forget - be well, be strong, be you. That's a great place to be.

 

With love - always,

Marie