Letting Go

So the Internet can connect anyone in the world right? Right. But does it? Well, say hello to Diane Lee. I don’t know how long I’ve known Di for, but on Twitter she’s one of those people who gets involved in conversations and is a good person to have in my timeline. And she’s from the land down under, which is pretty awesome. She writes her own blog and often talks about everything from love, life, the universe and everything in between.

I’m not a girl who likes conflict, even though the face I present to the world suggests otherwise. I present as a feisty woman, willing to stand up for myself and others if principles like unfairness, injustice and hypocrisy are at stake.

These days though, I find most of my conflict is work-related, and is mostly linked to a clash of values, and is generally as a result of what I perceive to be poor leadership. Unfortunately, my feistiness means that I speak up where others – generally quite wisely – keep their own counsel, even though it is clear that there are issues that need to be dealt with, and aren’t. To my mind, sweeping things under the carpet has become a major activity in many organisations.

It is my contention that workplaces should actually be called shouldplaces, because there is a lot of shoulding that goes on. There should be inspiring, emotionally intelligent leadership in place; a strategy that is monitored and reviewed, with accountability for deliverables; clear and honest communication; engaged and motivated employees; work that is innovative, interesting and rewarding; excellent pay structure and career advancement; recognition for a job well done; and invigorating and stimulating professional development. You get the picture. A lot of shoulds that rarely happen in the one workplace. If you are lucky, you get might get two, three at the most.

All those should that never happened used to make me really angry. I left jobs and workplaces because there were so many shoulds that should have happened and didn’t. I became very disillusioned with work, and the difficulty has always been that – as a sole parent – not working is not an option. So I sucked it up, but moved when all the shoulds that didn’t happen got too much to bear. Needless to say, I moved around. Lots.

But one of the biggest – and most helpful – things I have learned in the last few years is that the shoulds will always be there. And it’s been a gradual awakening. I realise now that I can’t control the shoulds, so I generally don’t try. I can’t live my working life as an ideal: I have to live it as it really is, with all its ugliness and unfairness and hypocrisy. For me learning to be more zen and “meh” about most work situations has made me a better employee. I generally concern myself with issues that are only in my dance space. Anyone else’s dance space – those bigger leadership issues, for example – are not on my radar, unless I’m asked directly to intervene.

Sure, they still bother me, and I still want to change what needs to be changed, but it’s about putting my energy where I am going to get the best return on investment. Myself. So unless the shoulds directly affect me, my work and the outcomes I am expected to produce, I have learned to let things go.

And I am the happier for it.

(Short bio: Diane Lee lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has post-graduate degrees in Communication and Education and has worked in both those areas. She is a travel addict and budding photographer, and blogs at The Diane Lee Show. She is totally addicted to Twitter.)

Over the month of February I am hosting guest blog posts and the invitation is open to all. If you’d like to take part, the question you have to answer is: What has been your biggest learning in life?

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

6 thoughts on “Letting Go”

  1. Well written and good advice. Dealing with something similar here myself… but the one thing I’ve learnt is that speaking up when your gut tells you to is worth all the discomfort and awkwardness in the workplace that follows. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

  2. Great lesson Diane. Your “letting go” & “speak up” has loads to do with my own discomfort “being afraid of being wrong”. I guess letting go is the thing that helped me to move on from one failure to another. To be honest however, I am not the best example of letting go as not always it is easy for me.
    Great post from you and excellent opportunity from Sukh for many of us to share our learnings.

  3. Love this Di especially your phrase “shouldplaces” – even that framing gives a different perspective doesn’t it? Funny how organisations don’t help their people learn how to deal with these issues… how would that have helped you earlier in your career I wonder.

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