My good friend Christine Martell shared a wonderful story of career mentoring with me the other day. A woman was being sexually harrassed at work and went to see a labor attorney about it. After a few minutes of discussion about the situation, this was the conversation that followed:
“Karen, I’m going to talk to you like we’re having a glass of wine, okay?”
“Okay, I like those conversations,” I responded with a small smile. Then she looked at me quite calmly and said,
“What the f*$% are you doing?”
Huh? It’s not often that I’m dumbstruck. The look on my face must’ve relayed my shock.
“What the hell are you doing?” she repeated. “Clearly this organization is showing you that they don’t value you.”
It was like getting cold cocked right on the side of the head.
“Here’s what you need to do. First, you need to have a better understanding of what your compensation really is. Fix that. Then, every single day, do something to get yourself out of there. Every. Single. Day.”
I love this story for two reasons. First, is the absolute clarity that comes when you ask a question like "What the F*#& are you doing?" It cuts through all the crap and gets right down to basics.
When someone says this to you after you've gone through your tale of woe, it pulls you up short. You say to yourself, "Yeah, what the F*%# AM I doing?!" You need that periodically. It's a reality check that puts everything into perspective.
The other reason I love this story is the attorney's advice at the end--to do something every single day to move out of the situation. Every. Single. Day.
It's easy to get stuck in complaining or worrying about your dysfunctional career situation. But this doesn't do anything for you in the end. You're still stuck. You need to focus on action--moving yourself forward into something new and much better for you. Doing something daily not only creates the forward momentum you need, it also gives you something else to focus on besides how much your situation sucks.
So. What the F*$# are YOU doing? And what are you doing each day to move your career forward?