Friday, February 12, 2010

professional tip #1: put on your big girl panties

At first, my sister's divorce was making my heart pound erratically but now it's work.  And now I carry a bottle of Atavan.

A couple of days ago, emails were colliding in my inbox and it became too much. I busted into BossLady's office and had a mini-breakdown.  It just suddenly dawned on me that there was a LOT riding on my success or failure.  Money, funding, staff, jobs, livelihoods. My chest felt like it was going to burst.  And I felt like there was a big target painted on my back.

"I just wanna know that I'm not on the hook for the whole strategy leading this place," I said. "I mean, I'm not..I can't...I'm not an executive! I'm just pulling shit out of my ass!'

BossLady understood. 'So what are you saying? You're overwhelmed?'

Our COO stopped in. 'What's going on?'

I said, "I'm freaking out. I feel there's a big target on my back and there are a lot of expectations and I can't handle it. This is totally above my pay grade. LITERALLY."

But if I thought there was sympathy from my awesome COO, there was none.

With a voice like a blunt instrument, she said, 'Sorry. We *are* relying on you to provide the strategy. This is what you do and what we need from you.'

'Jesus. I'm about to lose my shit,' I said. 'I am so not comfortable with that. I'm not used to that. I'm used to giving suggestions, advice, throwing in some 'have you thought ofs' - not 'this is the whole freaking plan and it came out of my head'!'

You know what's in my head?  Most of the time, bravado and useless crap!  But apparently, that's my job - to marshall my natural talent for bravado and academic bullshit in order to get what we need to survive.  It was a really heavy moment. My job wasn't a game. There was no room for shrugging and saying 'oh well, maybe next time.' There was weight to it.  And it was hanging around my neck and I was scared.

It's terrifying, sometimes, to see yourself the way others see you.  (And this, one week after bullshitting my way through letter of recommendation! The irony, you know?)

My two bosses were sympathetic but not really feeling me more than that.

The upshot: put on your big girl panties, DeliaChristina.


Joy said...

I have a sign on my door, eye level, so I see it before I leave the house every day. The sign says "work hard and be brave." I think I may have to add, "put on your big girl panties and deal with it" to it.

They hired you because you're talented. They gave you the responsibility because you can handle it. They told you to get it done because you will. The stakes are high, but you are utterly capable.

liza said...

What she said.

They really wouldn't leave it in your hands if they thought you weren't capable. And you are.

Just keep breathing. Remember, being brave and strong is not about not being scared. You can be scared, you just keep going.

Dan said...

It's time to lead.

There are basically two types of leader: the one who says, "go do this," and the one who says, "follow me."

Guess which type is usually more effective? Guess which type you get to be now?

(It's nothing you can't handle.)