Working full time at the bottom of the corporate ladder can really take its toll. There’s many great parts: great learning opportunities, corporate perks of free food and free booze, working with the best, and minimal responsibility at times when you really appreciate not bearing the burden. It can be glamorous and fun and interesting, and you’re surrounded by impressive, interesting and stimulating people, who push you and challenge you and make you into a success. Most days this is inspiring and you find yourself doing your best, almost by accident, riding the wave of motivation and inspiration. But some days, and sometimes for many days in a row, you slump. You forget how to work, or how to work hard. You let one small misstep blow out to redefine you as inadequate and incapable, and you use this new paradigm as an excuse to let yourself perform at much less than your best.
This slump can be almost impossible to shake off. I’ve felt myself in a work slump for a few weeks, and struggled hard to find a way to release myself from my new personal definition of ‘fine is fine’. I don’t like to hand in fine work, and my job doesn’t demand fine, it demands perfect. I’d let confusion and lack of confidence take the reins in my working day; which is odd, because outside my 9 – 5 (cute summary of standard work hours), I define myself by willpower, motivation, commitment to succeed and confidence in the abilities of myself and others. Somehow, the corporate ladder had crushed me a little, and I couldn’t work out how to straighten out again.
It took a very embarrassing performance review and a long conversation with my supervising partner to realise that not only did I feel a bit crushed, but that other people had noticed I wasn’t up to scratch. After dwelling and mulling and crying in the shower (such a tragic move), I realised that my perspective had shifted. I felt like I was freed from feeling lost and alone and underneath a big pile of crap. I felt like I could go back to seizing opportunities and turning them in to something great, instead of continuing to work at a sub-standard level, feeling generally like I was under-performing and too stuck in my ways to do anything about it.
It’s a new morning, and a new day. I took a little longer getting my game-face on, I took some time to reflect on what I want to achieve today. I decided I wasn’t going to let the corporate ladder wobble and let me fall on my face. And I decided that each piece of work, no matter how small or how complicated, is an opportunity to rebuild my old brand, of commitment, perseverance and excellence.