I’ve never really thought of myself as a “management type,” so it came as something of a surprise when I transitioned to a new job a few years back and found myself surrounded exclusively by managers and leaders. This turned into a fabulous education, I’ve met fabulous mentors and friends who have taught me things about office leadership and working as part of a multi-disciplinary team that were so new and revolutionary to my ways of thinking that I’ve accidentally developed skills I didn’t even know were learnable. (Seriously, the first time I learned that there were STRATEGIES you could use to facilitate meetings it about blew my mind.) I’m beyond grateful for everything I have learned here, but I’ve also begun to question if this is really how I want to spend my career.
[when]I feel in my element. There’s a natural rhythm… a flow, a palpable buzz.
One of the most fascinating revelations I’ve had in my adult life is that you really do continuously rediscover who you are while continuously choosing who you eventually want to be. I think we all secretly think there’s going to be some sort of “arrival” where you’ve become who you’re going to be and you can just kind of coast through the rest of life with this knowledge you are now in possession of. Since I didn’t develop into a smooth, confident leader by my mid-twenties that must not be in the cards for me, right? I’ve always really admired people with those skills (what I sometimes refer to as “real grown-ups”) so I’m pretty jazzed to have learned that I do have some capacity to DO this kind of work and project that kind of demeanor. At the same time I’ve come to see that I don’t really like doing it. A lot of the necessary skills of management feel like something I have to FORCE myself to actually do, I’m THINKING then DOING, like translating from a foreign language and that is EXAHUSTING. It also has the result of making me feel unconfident in my abilities, even when things are going well.
When I am working on a creative team either doing something actually artistic, or just developing strategies in a communal setting, I feel in my element. There’s a natural rhythm that we find, a flow, a palpable buzz. My ideas bounce of their ideas and together we make something FUN, or INTERESTING, or HELPFUL. I leave these sessions feeling INSPIRED, ENERGIZED, CONFIDENT. Then I compare that to the way I feel after a typical day at work; off-balance, exhausted, unsure. I have to question, are these normal growing pains you must suffer through to learn something new? If they are, is this where I want my focus to be? Am I doing what I want to be?
I’m grateful to be developing my leadership abilities, these are the types of skills that are great to have, no matter what your focus. But at the end of the day I’m a person motivated by what I create and build. To be able to create and build things I’m proud of I need to focus on that, and on surrounding myself with people who support and inspire that kind of growth. If I’m going to do something 8 hours a day, (and think about it even more than that) I want to DO something I value. You can think as many things as you’d like, but in the end you are what you do.
I want to be someone who creates art with awesome people, so that’s what I’m going to do. What about you? Who do YOU want to be?