Pausing My Life, Part Two

When I left off at the end of part one, my boss was becoming very ill but was still at work.

Her decisions had started to become dodgy and unreliable, a complete reversal of character and ability for her.

I needed a rest from the demanding situation and took my summer holidays, and while I was away, she suffered an embolism and was suddenly gone. It was extremely and very mercifully quick.

I rushed back to a funeral, a dazed and grieving staff, including three new hires, and a huge workload.

Despite the fact that everyone knew she was terminal, people were shocked; many had bought into the notion that she was curing herself through traditional medicine, a modality in which she had such complete faith that it bled over to others. (I believe. Do you believe? Or something like that.) The new hires were more shocked than anyone, since they hadn’t been aware that she was sick.

As a group, we started putting one foot in front of the other, and got on with it, in spite of feeling sad and stunned. We got going again; we had to. The work carried on.

I was placed in an “acting” role and I set about the business of wrapping my head around all the things that needed to be done. There were a lot of them.

In the meantime, however, a coup was fomenting. A couple of people who were “grieving” on the surface were planning to put their chosen candidate into the head role – a chosen candidate whom they could control.

20 days into my new job, I was sitting in my temporary new office at my temporary new desk, bordering on letting myself slide into a private little collapse. I perched on the edge of my seat, white knuckling the desk’s edge, breathing hard and teetering on the verge of just walking away.

I had a few hostile employees who wanted to replace me. Others were angry at my boss for dying, and for telling them that she was getting better when she wasn’t. We experienced all the stages of grief like we were on a rocket sled.

No one had any idea how much had to be done, the timelines involved, and the contingencies needed. People kept materialising out of nowhere, demanding everything and taking responsibilty for nothing. Criticism hung on the air like a fog. And, there was the imposter factor. I kept thinking that I didn’t know what I was doing, that I was a know-nothing kid dressed in her mother’s work clothes, that I was in waaay over my head.

So I did. I pressed pause. I shut the door to my office. I set the phone to voice mail. I sat, and I meditated.

After I got rid of the ex-narcissist out of my life, I had learned meditation from my counsellor, and in this maelstrom of work and emotion, I had stopped doing it. I needed to get back to it.

I took a break, I re-grouped, and I fought my way through it, day after day and week after week.

I focused on what was going well: top notch support from head office, a supportive spouse and friends and faith in myself.

I won the permanent position. I got my staff in line; the ones who are discontented are moving on, and new ones are coming in. But it was a hard slog and I had to get tough. The staff who failed in pursuit of “their” candidate were angry and bitter.

It’s getting better now. The learning curve angle is beginning to soften, and a good team is starting to develop.

But pausing my life? Yes. It’s necessary. Sometimes you have to stop, take a look, and decide if this is where you should be, if it’s for you. A realistic self-examination is key, not just for yourself but also for those you work with.

That’s something that I learned from this, both by watching it and by experiencing it myself. Being able to recognise your weaknesses and consider them is not shameful, and being realistic about your strengths isn’t shameful either.

What is your opinion?

24 thoughts on “Pausing My Life, Part Two”

  1. You certainly did the right thing, Lynette. Hitting the pause button is a wise move, especially when you’re surrounded by people who like to push your buttons. Congratulations! I’m sorry about your boss.

  2. A pause was certainly needed to clear all the clutter and allow for better focus and avoid all the office dramas when there is work to be done. Congrats for coming out the other side, Lynette. Allan

  3. When you say you hit the pause button, what did that look like? Did you take a holiday? Did you just shut the door and not listen to anyone but yourself for a while? If so, for how long? Did you meditate the once, or have you continued to do it?

    The reason I ask is, it sounds like whatever you did during that pause, worked. It’s always good to know for inspiration.

    My husband recently won the manager’s job of his team. His situation didn’t sound too unlike yours, except his boss didn’t pass away, he was fired. He’s got his team in line now, and I’ve never seen him so confident. I knew he could do it, but he always questioned himself before.

    BTW, I love that line, “I was a know-nothing kid dressed in her mother’s work clothes.”

    Congratulations. Keep up the good work. You’re doing great!

    1. Hi Lori, thank you for the vote of confidence – much appreciated. 🙂

      No, I didn’t take a holiday. I literally just took about 20 mins with the phone on voice and the door locked. I have done at least 10 mins of morning meditation for a long time, but in that high-pitched situation I lost track and stopped. I realised I had to carve out the time for it and make it important. I still do it, and the importance of it was a case in point today. It was one of those days where nothing was going to be smooth. Lots of mechanical issues, tech issues and complaints. I almost got highjacked, but I took my 10 mins anyway and felt better for it all day.

      Glad to hear about your husband. 🙂 Getting everyone in line is so important. My husband has also remarked that I seem to be more confident, and I am. It was a difficult transition but very professionally rewarding.

  4. the human need for control is always such a undying art form. Doing the best with what you have is what it is all about. Always listen to yourself even if you end up being wrong…..that way you don’t have to listen to someone else.

  5. Congratulations on pulling it all together, Lynette. It’s never easy to suddenly be thrust into a role even if one is more than half prepared for it. There are always so many others in the equation and one has to take some time out for things to settle and take a step back to assess exactly what the situation is. It sounds as though you did everything right. I’m happy for you and applaud you for making such wise decisions. xx

    1. Thank you for your support! 🙂

      This situation really proved the reasons why I need to look after myself, to just ensure a little time is there so that I can catch my breath and let my thinking coalesce. It was a difficult road but worth it in the end.

  6. Absolutely agree! How can we make a clear examination of our lives, in whatever capacity they are being lived, without reflection? Otherwise we only react to everything tossed our way. So happy to hear that you took a pause, thought through everything that was going on, so that you could more clearly make mindful, deliberate decisions both for yourself and your work.

    1. Thank you very much. 🙂
      I am very much a muller, and sometimes I need a little time for that. A pause is a good thing, yes, to reflect and absorb. You are right, I was very much allowing myself to react instead of making deliberate decisions.

  7. Thank you so much for this story–It’s really hard sometimes, in the face of conflict, to remember to gain the presence of mind to meditate and draw on strengths and interests. There are so many times when I plain forget to do this when there is stress and conflict in my life. This story is a great reminder. Congratulations on the permanent position!

    1. Thank you! 🙂

      I am glad that I finally re-gained perspective and acted on what I needed to do. In our work lives we can get swept along so quickly and it can become just survival.

  8. Totally agree. This is something many of us need to learn – that recognizing our strengths and weaknesses isn’t arrogance or humility – it’s just recognition and acceptance. As I often tell my daughter, the yellow flower doesn’t wish it were red, it simply accepts that it’s yellow and it tries to be the best yellow it can. 🙂

    I’m glad things have worked out. That was a hairy road, but it sounds like you navigated it pretty well. 🙂 xoxox

    1. Thank you for your supportive comment. 🙂

      That day was the worst. And I guess you have to hit that bottom in order to make up your mind: am I going to dig in or am I going to leave? At the time it didn’t seem like very much was going right, but it got better.

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