Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had the “do the right thing” attitude. In fact, the word conscientious appeared quite often on my childhood report cards. I can’t say I was super impressed with the compliment. When I read the definition for the first time as a child it meant nothing to me. But, at that age, I didn’t realize how relevant that character trait would be in the real world.
As I continued living life and entered the workforce my conscientious attitude only flourished. I always put 100% in the work I do. And will often go above and beyond if it means helping the team succeed. I look at the big picture, see the target, and give it my all.
Imagine my surprise when I met with my boss and received my first ever “notice of termination” letter.
I hardly heard the words as he was speaking. I felt a small panic attack as I was sorting through my emotions.
Shocked they were letting me go after I put my heart and soul in to the company.
Confusion over the word ‘restructure’ their reason for my dismissal.
Jealousy over why they chose to let me go instead of someone else.
Sadness because I wouldn’t be able to work with a team who, over the years, became my friends.
Fear of disappointing my husband because I wouldn’t be able to contribute financially to the household.
I received phones calls a few hours later from co-workers and clients as they learned of my dismissal. One by one, they shared thoughtful and kind comments about how they enjoyed working with me. I listened to many words of advice about new doors opening when old doors close. It was comforting and sad at the same time.
The following week I woke up every day and felt a sense of loss because I didn’t have a job to go to. So, naturally, I binge-watched the Orange is the New Black, ate popcorn and drank beer for lunch. A band-aid that lasted 4 days.
Then it hit me.
I am not my job. My job does not define who I am.
That company lost someone who put their heart and soul in all they do. They lost someone who had a strong work ethic, and who was a self-motivator. Someone who went above and beyond and who would continuously work and seek results. They lost someone who has been conscientious since birth.
Any company can hire someone and teach them about their vision. They can teach a new employee about their process, their product, or their services. For the most part, employees will follow what they’re taught. But, what a company cannot do is teach someone good character.
My good character is what provides value to whichever company I choose to work for. Not the other way around.
I got up off the couch, shut the TV off and spent the next week applying to opportunities in my field of work. A week later I accepted a job offer. My friends were right, when one door closed another opened. A door leading to bigger and better things. A door I probably wouldn’t have been ready for had I entered it a few years ago.
Do I continue to put 100% in all I do for my employer? Yes, and to be honest, at times it feels more like 110%. I’m happy to be a part of a team and work toward reaching our goals together. I truly want to see the company I work for and the people around me succeed.
Does my job define who I am? No, and I will never let it define me again.