Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Sunday, September 11, 2011

To Be or Not To Be

     To be or not be...that certainly is a good question...

     I mentioned before that I read a lot of Shakespeare as a kid...I'm surprised more of my blogs don't start out this way.  When starting his "to be or not be" soliloquy, Hamlet is going through an inner struggle. Does he display courage meaning avenge his father's death or does he just live with what happened? He also wonders whether it's better to live or, shall we say, "sleep."  The kind of "sleep" that is final and ends "the heartache and the thousand natural shocks."

     I'm not so sure that the daily struggles you or I go through are always that dramatic, but don't we ask that question every day essentially?  To be or not to be? 

     I made reference in my last blog to the fact that I had to make a lot of decisions about my life.  One of them involved decisions about my career path.  There are things I really love about accounting, and, as my friends will point out to you, it has nothing to do with math.  I love puzzles.  I feel accomplished when I find issues in a spreadsheet or with a report.  I also love improving communication between different departments and accounting.  When you can explain to your "internal customers" what's going on and how things in that particular organization work, everyone is more amicable and better able to work together to avoid internal bottlenecks.

     So, I do understand what I want as far as my career goals go within accounting and operations.  Unfortunately, I've had positions that have taken me so far off the course due to reductions in force, that I was getting stressed by the situation.  I felt that my career plans were dying.  My career paths coming to a dead end.  Add onto that long, and somewhat unnecessary, hours, well, I had to ask, "to be or not to be..."  That was the question.

     Don't get me wrong when I talk about the hours.  I like to work hard.  I want to be busy from the time I get there until I leave.  I am absolutely thrilled by deadlines. However, I was finding that I would actually feel guilty leaving at 5:15 p.m., even if I arrived at the office before anyone else and many times worked through lunch if others were still working.  Even if I found a way to work, as the saying goes, "smart," by improving processes in order to be more efficient, I felt that anything less than 10 hours a day is an indication of laziness. 

     "To be or not to be..."

     It's hard to ask that question.  You start to wonder if maybe you are lazy.  You start to feel that maybe you aren't good enough to do the things you want to do with your career when you keep getting pushed back to the beginning.  I will say that self-assessment when you get to this point is better than just giving into low self-esteem.  If you saw yourself in this or any of the last two paragraphs, I urge you to really take some time for yourself and not to let a hospital visit, like I talked about in the last blog, force you take that time.

     I was watching "Tomato," another NOOMA video from Rob Bell.  He said something that really struck a chord with me.  "We pick up from young age, from the world around us, we pick up that it's about winning.  It's about impressing.  We pick up that our worth and our value and our significance came from how good we are, how smart we are, how skilled, how better, how competent..."

    Wow...where do I start processing that statement.  I see now why those long hours at work seemed so important.  Those I felt I needed to impress operated on a value system so far and different from mine it's no wonder I was stressed.  I definitely needed to, and do now, take greater responsibility for my own self-worth, which eventually lead me to think, if this is the way of the world, why not go for a position that does fit within my value system?  Somewhere that values my particular skills and competency?  An environment that isn't counting the hours, but recognizing the talent and the skills I have necessary to make significant contributions? 

     Grabbing the proverbial starfish depends on your ability to see yourself as good enough, smart enough, skilled enough and competent enough.  What can you do?  What skills do you have?  How do you put those to work? Wait...I've got it...  

     "...What will I be, and what will I not be."  Now that's the question.

     Happy Fishing!