One of the LinkedIn groups to which I subscribe recently prompted its readers for some discussion on the topic of being confronted by and surviving a wake up call. The Kathy Caprino, the moderator asked, "Have you had a wake up call that changed your life?"
Indeed I have. If you've read my blog in the past you'll know that I explored the years 2010 and 2011 closely in my heart, mind and soul. I have more distance than when I last visited this season of my life and today I was tested again in how I choose to respond to the call.
I attended a workshop at my place of work and as I arrived and started to settle in, so did one of the figures who presented me with a wake up call in the workplace. I am certain that the perspectives on the call vary depending upon the role an individual had. I could sense the tension between us but we cheerfully (yeah) said hello to one another and went our own ways into the workshop venue.
At this time in my life I was managing a series of personal and family crises that I was trying desperately to keep out of the workplace. The individual I saw today in fact pushed me out of the workplace so that I might spend time with my mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and subsequently died. The loss of my mom was a wake up call that is deeply personal and not one I am prompted to revisit here. It's the workplace wake up I received, for better or worse at the time that has my attention today.
In a world where I have been a 'better me' I would never have been the person I was at the time of that call. I was embittered, burned out and without compassion as a result of the work environment I was involved. I cannot blame others for how I treated employees, but I can reconsider how I began my journey down a path that was less than satisfying and left bridges burned and feelings hurt while I worked to defend the needs of my employer and the demands of my administrators. Along with bridges I torched much of my personal integrity.
On the day I had to return to work following my forced, but much appreciated in retrospect, leave of absence, I was called to a meeting by the woman I saw today. It appeared on my calendar with no details of what the meeting would entail. I asked for details so might properly prepare for the meeting and was told I could not have them with a curt, "No."
At that moment I was awake. When I entered the meeting the call screamed at me. When I left and in the months subsequent, I was fully awake and on watch, looking for my call to the next phase of my life. I managed to pull together my professionalism and keep working for my employer. I was no longer responsive to my administrators in ways that were not true to who I am. I was strong enough to attempt course correction with those I hurt through my own mistreatment, and remained true to those I had rightfully worked to bring back to course in their own work.
Many of the administration involved are no longer with my employer. We have new leadership for the most part and the interim administrator was moved to another unit on campus where she remains. Every now and then we are at the same events. Each time I feel a little more at ease being in proximity, but I heed the wake up call I received and remain distant, appropriately so as a professional. I know some day I will be called to work with the woman again. At that time I hope that what I have learned about maintaining my integrity will be strong. That the resolve to do what is right will remain.