I feel so grateful to have been invited to participate in September's CFWIT Career Panel alongside accomplished women from our community. While the feedback we received indicated that many of you found this event to be educational, fun, and motivating, I want to make sure that you know that it was all of those things and more from the other side of the table as well! I am truly inspired by the high caliber of women in Wilmington's tech community - their work ethic, their stories, and their vision.
As with all good times, it felt like it had to end way too soon. We had so much to share and so little time. So using this post as my follow up to the event, I wanted to touch on some of the questions that we did not all get to and give a little more insight from one remote worker's point of view.
Being a Leader vs Being a Boss
I used to think that leaders were the people in charge of what happened, and everyone logically went along with what they said because they were in charge.... and then I grew up. On my journey of growth, both professionally and personally, I have come to realize what leadership is, how people who are not the boss exemplify the qualities of a leader, and how people with the title "boss" have not learned how to lead. It has been shocking, enlightening, and, sometimes, a little scary.
Basically, what it boils down to in my mind, is that a leader is someone who INSPIRES others to take action, gains their confidence and trust, and remembers that they are responsible to serve their teams. Leaders help their followers grow and succeed. Leaders know their people and their focus, keep a keen eye on strategy, and steer the ship ever so slightly through the course.
Sometimes we get lucky and the person we call "boss" is also an amazing leader. But we have to remember that by no means does someone have to be the "boss" to be a leader - leaders exist at all levels of an organization and true leaders lead, both by example and in practice, when their strength is needed and because they know it adds value. I feel that every woman who attended this recent event is, at least in some capacity, a leader in her own respect - even those who may not realize it. Taking the initiative to spend your free time to build something better in your life and the lives of those around you is leading, and I think that is what all of us are here to do.
Keeping Passion In Your Work
Keeping passion going day-to-day in your work is something that can be tricky, even if you happen to be doing the job you always dreamed of. There are always some aspects of a job that feel more work-like and less "woot!"-like. That said, I feel like life is too short and work takes up too many hours of it for us to be constantly committed to things for which we hold no passion.
For me, a big part of staying passionate is driving my own career while continuing to learn and grow wherever possible. I have found that I can take ownership of my work and direct its course while fulfilling the needs of the organization and delivering what is required of me. The more I reach out to my peers and my leaders to voice my recommendations for improvements, the more I realize that my ideas are exciting to them as well and helpful for us to achieve mutual success.
I would highly recommend that anyone who feels like they are burning out on work ask themselves a few key questions:
- Am I being productive, or just busy?
If it is the latter, then re-evaluate your priorities. If you spend all day spinning your wheels with nothing of value to show for it, it's pretty hard to be excited about your career or life in general.
- Is this just a job to me, or did I love it once?
If it is just a job, make yourself a clear plan to get on a career path that you can be excited about. Sure, we all have to pay the bills, but that doesn't mean that you can't be building the map to your next great adventure in the background.
If you loved it once, what changed? Think about how to get back to that.
- Am I working somewhere that is a good cultural fit for me?
The world's most prestigious job for one person could be utter torture for another. If you are a person who enjoys an environment that fosters collaboration and growth, and you find yourself in a company that encourages competition and hierarchy, perhaps all you need is a better cultural fit to bring out that passion inside you.