Why We Need to Stop Being Super-heroes!

No More Super-Hero

No More Super-Hero

Are you a Superhero at work? Not sure?
Well, are you the go-to person that everyone relies on?

Years ago, I read many articles lauding becoming the go-to person at a company, as a way of creating “job security” when the economy was nose-diving and people were losing jobs left, right and center.

The idea was to become so good at not only just the job you were hired to do, but to become the company super-hero… the problem solver. This was a great concept, which I embraced, as did so many other people.

Employers were ecstatic! …For a while at least! Then our wonderfulness wore off and this super ability became the new normal, so instead of being perceived as being very valuable, and being great contributors, we had become to be perceived as being a dime a dozen! Employers had come to expect super-human efforts as normal behavior from their staff, and the go-to person was rewarded with getting all the tasks that no one else wanted!

Becoming the go-to has other negative side-effects, which is to create resentment and discord with our co-workers who perceive us to be the boss’s pet, and which ups the expectations also being placed upon them!

So the end result of this work experiment has been to create unrealistic expectations in the workplace, to alienate co-workers, and for the unfortunate go-to person, physical and mental burnout trying to keep outperforming their last heroic task.

Another unforeseen result from this experiment, has been to make the go-to person un-promotable! Does this seem to be counter-intuitive to what we set out to do?

Well, why would a manager wish to have their super-hero move up to a different job or challenge, thus leaving them in the lurch with no one to solve their problems?

Am I advocating not caring about doing your job properly, or not going the extra mile when it’s called for? No, not at all. I’m advocating returning to healthier levels of productivity, which are sustainable in the long-term.

A work career isn’t a sprint, it’s much more like a marathon, which if we balance ourselves with energy we put out to what is replenishing us physically, mentally and spiritually, we’ll be able to last through our work life.

The myth of becoming the super-hero go-to person who will be cherished by all in the workplace has proven to be false, when tested in the real world!

So where does this leave us?

I guess being good or great at what we do is perfectly fine, as long as our own life isn’t thrown out of balance, or if we’re needing to sacrifice our relationships with co-workers to be seen as the savior!

Being part of a team is a delicate balance. If you have become the go-to person for your company, you may or may not be happy with the situation you have helped to create. If you aren’t happy, you may need to look inward to see which of the points I’ve made apply to you, and to take personal responsibility for your part and to try to discover the areas you can change to improve your work life.

Sometimes we need to take a step back to be able to move forward.

These are all issues which I’ve had to look at within myself, and I realized that I had been very susceptible to flattery from employers to allow myself to be manipulated into believing I was creating a wonderful position for my future.

In a recent job, part of this manipulation started right at the job interview phase, when the employer held out a tantalizing title for me to work towards: “Art Director”, and all I had to do was to prove myself! I threw myself into my job with gusto, and did everything I was asked to do, even though it placed undo pressure and resulted in staff in the home office becoming resentful of me. A huge part of this resentment was created because the employer never shared his expectations of me with any of his managers. No one had any idea the reason why I was doing all these extra projects was because he had asked me to, and was supposed to prepare me to run the marketing department.

Red warning flags were waving in my head that I was working in an unhealthy environment, but I was afraid to say no to any projects my boss asked of me, because I saw that he had a huge staff turn-over rate, and I didn’t want to become one of the fallen. I held onto the false hope he had set up within me, that I would be awarded a prize position.

So, what happened? What were the results? I was fired for not learning the new version of a creative software quickly enough! I had exceeded expectations over and over again, meeting one impossible deadline after another, but unfortunately, I couldn’t rush the rate at which my brain was able to absorb new information, even though I was right on schedule with all the tutorials I had listed on my action plan.

After being fired, (a first for me in my career – apart from being laid off due to economic downturns, so this was a huge ego blow), I did a lot of soul searching so that I could move beyond being resentful that all my well intentioned actions and hard work were not only not appreciated but cast aside.

I finally came to a point that I could recognize my part in the whole unhealthy scenario, and be able to reset my internal boundaries, but I struggled with my own feelings of self-doubt and inadequacies.

I put into action the tools I had previously learned the hard way in my life, about separating my skills and abilities from who I am as a person. I worked to remind myself that this work experience was just a short-term glitch in my overall work span, and didn’t indicate I was a poor performer or employee.

When we get caught up in an unhealthy or toxic work environment, part of living within it can entail absorbing this unhealthiness inside of ourselves, so when we find ourselves now on the outside, we need to do the inner work to restore balance and harmony inside of ourselves, or we risk carrying these learned attitudes and behaviors forward into the next company we work for.

It can be deceptive to think that all we have to do is find a great place to work and that when we are in a new and healthy environment, we will then absorb this great work culture into ourselves and be healed and become awesome again!

Unfortunately, if we don’t do the inner work first, we’re likely to seek out exactly the same scenario we had just left, because that’s what our spirit has come to recognize as being ‘normal’!

There’s no company in the world that can do the inner work for us, any more than there is a new life partner who can heal us and make us whole again after we’ve left an abusive relationship!

Please don’t despair! All isn’t lost! You will become awesome again!

It just means that we each need to do the inner work inside to prepare for the next phase life will bring!

If you feel you could use a little help or support learning these tools, the book “On Becoming a Lemonade Maker” can be just the thing to help!

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