Everything I do, I do with passion and integrity. Work, life, everything. I find it is impossible to disconnect myself entirely from who I am as a person versus what I do for a living. For that reason, I have decided that no matter what, I will always honor myself and my integrity above any job that I may do. No matter how much I may need the money.
For the past 15 months, I have been doing contract work for a company I used to work for several years ago. When they first brought me in, it was so I could help them resolve a very specific software programming problem they were having. It did not take me long to discover that this company had a much bigger problem than the one they were asking me to solve.
I really liked the people I was working for and I knew that they respected and valued me highly. It was because of this that I ignored many of the little warning bells that kept going off in my head over the next several months. These warning bells are the same ones that everyone gets when they sense danger and feel anxiety. They are the same warning bells that our ancestors used to keep themselves alive as they hunted and foraged through the forests.
6 months ago, I got to a point where I felt like I could no longer ignore the warning bells. Of course, by that point these warning bells were more like really obnoxious warning sirens and they screamed at me all day and night. I had reached my breaking point. As much as I liked the people I worked for and really wanted to help them solve the technical problems they were having, I felt as if I could not continue working in an environment that I felt was highly dysfunctional.
We are all used to talking about dysfunction in our relationships and families, but we rarely speak of the dysfunction that can and often does happen in the work place. We may laugh at TV shows like “The Office” and think that it is highly exaggerated, but the reality is that most offices are highly dysfunctional. The one I have been working in for the past 15 months was no exception.
So there I was 6 months ago – at my breaking point. Turns out, that it was actually a bending point. I say this because, despite my very clear suggestions for improvement, very little action on the part of my employer was ever made. In the end, I was the only one that was compromising.
Last week I came to yet another, “breaking point”. I still valued my employment, but I was sure that all the stress I was inadvertently bringing home with me at night was not worth it. My body was really talking to me this time. The warning sirens in my head were replaced with migraine-sized headaches that made me feel sick to my stomach. Panic attacks were happening almost daily and I knew that if I did not do something to stop it, my body was going to start shutting down a little bit at a time. This was simply NOT acceptable.
After much consideration, I crafted a very straight to the point email that explained my position and concerns and gave my employer a very generous 90 days notice. Yes, I know. Who gives a 90 day notice? Well I do, of course.
I sent the email in the middle of a crisis, so I was not expecting an immediate response. Of course, everyday is a crisis in a highly dysfunctional work place.
I was pleasantly surprised when the owner of the company came to my office and sat down to talk. He began by apologizing for the fact that things got to this point. He assured me that he understood my concerns and that in fact big changes were coming for the company. He was sure that I would be pleased, but he needed for me to be just a little more patient with him – to give him 30 more days. Of course, I agreed. After all, I did give him 90 days in my notice.
At this point, all the stress that was eating me up has gone away completely. I know that I have done everything to the best of my ability and acted honorably – not only to myself and family, but to my employer as well. I am hopeful that the next 30 days will bring about a remarkable changes. But if not, I will not hesitate to stick to my original notice and walk away with the knowledge that something else truly wonderful will be waiting for me.
Wish me luck…