Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Being laid back in an aggressive world

I started my career in a leadership development department, got promoted to a project lead soon after and led many projects. Yes there was cutthroat competition, Yes there was backstabbing and sweet talkers, Yes there was gossip and kiss ass giri but I did all that in my own way and still stayed true to who I was. I can still look back on those years and am not embarrassed of anything I see there.

Then I got pregnant, went on my maternity leave and when I came back, I was a changed person. Those four months of caring for that mewing little infant completely changed my priorities. No longer did I yearn for a demanding challenging glamorous job, but I just wanted something with a steady workflow and where I could take days off and go home early. And I did get such a job; thanks to my earlier reputation and success. I was offered a flex time job with Fridays off, leave at three in the afternoons’ kind of deal on a platter and I took it and coasted my days away. If you ask me what I can liken last year to, in terms of my career, it’s like floating on an inflatable tube in the warm waters of the Caribbean. I had a boss with an “It’s my way or the highway” kind of philosophy and I was content to go along with what she proposed. I was a worker bee. I came, I worked and I left to go home and chill out with my baby and friends and family.

So now fast forward 2 years, I wake up and realize where I am, where I have reached, coasting away on the gentle waters and it’s an awakening. I sit up and brush off the mental cobwebs and am determined to find my way back into the action of things. And it’s hard because everywhere I turn to, I have to face questions on: Give me instances of where you displayed leadership, Give me examples of where you resolved conflicts, and give me instances of where you thought outside the box and implemented some ground breaking concept! Well meaning managers and peers dole out advice by the gallonfulls – You should go network, go take so and so out to lunch, go to the bar after work and chat up that group there, go dance for those folks…I exaggerate but you get the gist….Sigh…I realize that I turn back to my earlier job positions for any questions on career and proving myself and when I have made a difference. Honestly the last two years have been all “My baby is my number one priority, my number one job and the rest is all collateral”. And now I am planning another baby while looking for another job at the same time. And am terrified of how its all going to work out and wrong timings and what if I get a new job and find out I am pregnant at the same time…But I don’t know what I want more (Okay I clearly want another baby more but I also want the money and the responsibilities and the career growth)…Keep your fingers crossed for me! I have my second round of interviews this week and hopefully all goes well I will have my second shot at my career!

I really admire people who balance both – work and home and equally admire women who have given up their careers to take care of their house. It takes courage to choose either direction. How do you do it?

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