Years ago, when I was working in business, part of my job was writing texts such as:
Our company, founded on the concept of providing world class customer service which consistently delivers value, has grown steadily while achieving an enviable industry position . We offer our clients superior project management services, unparalleled technological advantage and direct access to some of the most progressive and streamlined design and building engineering processes imaginable, at the same time leveraging every dollar spent and opportunity uncovered to our client's benefit.
Excuse me, my I stick my own finger down my own throat now?
I remember sitting at the Monday board meetings, at which I was an invited guest as the Corporate Marketing Director, and wishing that I could be one thing: interesting. Interesting as in being the person whom people would look at and think, hmmmm, I wonder what she thinks. At that point, I could hardly think of anything of consequence to say, ever, with the exception of sentences which contained phrases like, "I can appreciate that" or "benchmarking the competition" or "I'll get back to you on that ASAP". I fit into corporate America like a big square peg into a tiny round hole. But damn if I did not try, and I developed an uncanny abilitiy to write the most wordy copy with the least possible amount of meaning to prove it. But interesting I was not. And the board knew it. They knew they could make me cry if they looked at me in a certain way, or that I would have to go out to my car to calm myself down after someone had double crossed my efforts to bring in new clients. I was way too focused on justice. I was a what you see is what you get person. Not a good thing to be at the executive level. There is nothing rightous about business. It is all about staking out your position and defending it. It is about saving your job and about combing and massaging your image to management. Sure, doing your job counts, to some degree. But if you want to play with the big dogs, you better be able to piss in the tall weeds. And in the tall weeds I got lost. And that means you get pissed on. Big time.
During this same time period, I attended the Dale Carnegie Training Program in a boring, beige auditorium and had a life altering experience. Toward the end of the program they put us in groups of five and we had to tell the other people in the group what we really thought of each other . This little creepy guy from Montreal looked at me, sniffed and said, "You, you are a - a- how you say- a chameleon -- you so busy changing your color to make everyone like you that you don't know your -- how you say--real color anymore." I gasped. Ran out of the room. Left the building. My memory tells me I threw up, but maybe I just wanted to. The little creep was right. I wanted people to like me. I knew how to say what they wanted to hear.
Did you know that it is impossible to be both a butt kisser AND an interesting person? Those two characteristics are mutually exclusive. Think of all the butt kissers you have ever met in your life? Were any of them profoundly interesting people whose presence you yearned to be in? See what I mean?
How do you go from being a person who changes her colors to make everyone like her to a person who says what she means without worrying too much about who likes it? Without crying or going into a rage or apologizing for her existence? Oh, that is a long, winding road. It means changing. Alot of things.
Luckily for me, my life would not be spent in the playpen of Corporate Kindergarten. Instead, I got to leave that arena and its jargon and dry skinned, hard shoe and big watch wearing managers to go live in Europe with my husband, who stayed in that environment at an international executive level. The Global Corporate Kindergarten. More on that some other day.
But moving to Europe did much more for me than just remove my need to consult my Thesaurus on an hourly level. I was thrown into interesting situations, and had to learn how to react in situations that were out of my comfort zone. Strangely enough, coming out of my comfort zone saved my soul. It took me a long time to realize it, but it saved my soul.
And the work of developing a life which I would consider interesting and appropriate and mine was just beginning.
I am going to be writing more about people who I find interesting and who have had a profound influence on my life. I am also going to write more about situations which I confronted where I chose to deepen my relationship with myself in order to discover what might actually be interesting-- about me.