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Point of no return

IlseVdG

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I woke up half in the night and I started writing this post very early in the morning. I’m in some sort of ‘crisis’ and I ‘should’ be panicking right now, but I’m actually feeling a bit lightheaded. I don’t deserve your reply, because I haven’t taken any visible action yet, to follow my entrepreneurial dream. But this day might become my point of no return. Well… it has to become it. I just have no other options left. It’s very simple. It’s not even a decision anymore.

I’m finding myself in this loop of repeating history, and although it’s very tempting to react to the same circumstances in the same way all over again, I’m at a point right now that I’m so desperate, that I might as well let go of all this conditioned reactions that give me nothing more than a false sense of power. I’m a lawyer. I can make a case and I can plead a case. But what can I really do, when all that I have to offer, just doesn’t get accepted in the firm (correction: ‘firms’; cf. repeating history) that I work for? Do I make a defense, all over again, and invest all my energy in this, all over again? Or do I finally make my escape from this matrix? Let me see. I’m at the age of forty-one... Counting lifetimes now… Oops, it says: 1. I guess the answer has to be yes.

The last few months I have spent all my free time (apart from doing overtime for my boss) at trying to find ways to get out of my mindset of perfectionism, which is nothing less than a form of internalized slavery. As long as I’m in that mode, there’s really nothing that I can do as an entrepreneur. I wouldn’t even know how to begin. Too scared to fail, too scared to even think about not pleasing others. I’m very grateful, not only to the Fastlane books and other books that inspire me to get out of this, but also for this repeating history that I’m complaining about in this post. It’s a repeating lesson that’s hitting my head every time and it has pushed me to make some undeniable progress over the years… but now it’s time for exams.

I’ve been notified by my boss that after my leave (which is actually sick leave because I took the leave out of exhaustion, my nerves cry for rest) he and his boss will have a chat with me, because they are very disappointed in my results. I will have to improve, or otherwise it’s not going to work. The chat will take place on Monday 4th or Tuesday 5th November. I can fill my head now with all my defense against it and believe me: I have so much to say in my defense.

In short: I’m delivering quality, because that’s the way I’m wired. But with far too little staff to maintain that quality, guess who’s the black sheep? The one who still tries to deliver quality, no matter what. In the end, it’s too confronting for the bosses who are also just people trapped in this matrix, and they are also very easily helped by people who feel threatened by my work, to spread negative rumors about ‘too detailed work’ and thus ‘inefficiency’. That’s an argument that can serve as a passe-partout to kill anything that’s done right. All it takes, for the bosses, is some lack of specialist knowledge + finally, when they are confronted with too much negative rumors over longer periods of time, some willingness to believe the critique.

But really, when you really look at it: what it all means, is that the person who tries too hard… gets the critique that he tries too hard. All in all, it’s fair. I’m using my abilities the wrong way. I’m always proving myself. I have to stop that. It creates allergic reactions with coworkers and bosses. I have, damned!!!!, so much talent, but what do I do? I throw it in the face of people who can’t manage that. I cause problems, instead of solving them. I have to get out of my own way, do something under my own responsibility, and stop blaming others.

So what? So my boss apparently has chosen to forget that, for example, although I have no training whatsoever in this area, I have created an ‘algorithm’ (I didn’t even know what an ‘algorithm’ was at that time), just by playing with possible solutions, whilst standing in a crowded, full train, writing on a paper against the wall of the corridor. It’s nothing much. But it’s a small set of instructions that solves a problem that apparently didn’t get solved by the technical department for five years now. A problem that was already known long before my arrival in the firm. There are errors in the app for calculating the legal notice period (getting the irony?). Now, for the kind of firm that I work for, the calculation of the notice period is one of the most crucial, CORE tasks and legal responsibilities the firm has towards its clients, entrepreneurs. Faults in calculation can lead to serious damage claims. As by wonder, there are none as yet, at least, not at a judicial stage.

After I explained my proposal of solution – explained it in a very nervous way, frightened to get another critique of my boss that I had wrongly invested my time, I mean, this wasn’t even my area of expertise! - the responsible technical director was very quiet, he immediately left the meeting room, by saying: “OK, now we know what to do.” When I proposed to e-mail the solution to him, he answered very swiftly: ‘No, that’s not necessary!” He just took a photograph of the blackboard and made himself disappear. My boss who was also was present in the meeting, was baffled. He was very proud of me. Now, almost half a year later, the technical director still hasn’t implemented the solution in the app. He says he has found a better way, but he still hasn’t found the time to explain it to his staff. It’s the same director that’s blocking all my other joint projects now, with endless and senseless critique or refusal to respond to my e-mails with questions. And now, almost half a year later, my boss blames me for not having good results with these projects. My boss, he has a very hard time, with too little staff in his department, with people leaving all the time (who wouldn’t?) and with people going on long sick leave for burnout (I mean not me, but other colleagues. I’m just getting fired up J, with just a little hick up right now, because I’m tired and I have spasms in my face, my left hand and leg, from too much built-up stress).

So, what are my options?

1. Fill the coming days with making a defense dossier for my bosses, preparing my plea, not resting at all, exhausting myself in defense;
2. Trying to find another job where history can repeat itself, and not resting at all, exhausting myself in trying to sell myself once more;
3. Resting, energizing myself with physical exercise, reviewing my way of looking at things, do some introspection, let it all go and wait for inspiration to come;
4. Complaining on a beautiful forum like this, hoping for help in some way, but if I'm honest: I'm not yet with the big league, the people who are doing it. I'll first have to earn credits to get help;
5. Take action for long term solution: my own business, although I have no clue what this will be exactly
6. Trying to seek for a healthy combination of the above mentioned?

I’ll let you know what has become of the following days. The few things that I already decided on are these:
- I will NOT let my mind get clouded once again with endless angry defense thoughts, walking around like a zombie, and getting nothing done. I will take the necessary physical exercise and do whatever it takes to stay out of this numbing state of victimhood.
- I will look at long time solutions. I already took books out of the library, but never read them, on coding. Today is a good day to start. I’m certainly not a math wonder, I have more talent for linguistics, BUT I have a set of brains, and I have curiosity and passion for creative solutions to problems, and I have the determination to learn what is necessary to create solutions that can be duplicated!
- I will not invest too much time in looking for repeating history (looking for another job) although I might as well have to get one in the end to support myself. But as long as I’m not sure that I will be laid off, I think that I better invest my time on long term solutions.
- no more working overtime for my boss, no more weekends filled with study for my job, no more stress, letting it all go, so I can spare energy for my own studies, for my own business. I thought that I was being smart, working away, thinking that I was creating a basis of trust, so that in a year or so, I could stop doing overtime because I would have created enough expertise in the fields that I’m responsible for. But I have to finally admit that I can’t control this thing called job. Because I am not born to have jobs. I’m born to create independently.
- trying to get help and contacts - please? - because I have no clue. Hence this post.

Any comment is very welcome.

Ilse

PS if I wrote this on the wrong forum, please correct. I'm new to this. Thank you!
PS 2 I'm aware that I'm not much of a help, more of a help seeker right now. But be sure that I will do my share when the time comes.
 

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Ernman

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Welcome to the forum Ilse! Your comments suggest you've read either TMF or UNSCRIPTED - maybe both. So you know the answer. The question becomes, will the meeting with the boss be your FTE? Remember, a true FTE means fear no longer gets in the way of your decision to move on.

As for repeating history. A lot of us have been there. Some of us still are. We know what we want to do - but "damn that paycheck is instant amnesia." (sorry MJ, I can't remember which book that was in)

Don't worry about not being much help. You'd be surprised how just sharing one's situation can help others. And when you are successfully on the Fastlane, you'll be here for others.

As for your meeting with the boss. I recommend you NOT build up a script or get defensive. If you've already made up your mind to leave, than what good is all the negative energy. Instead, just go in and listen. Please don't take this personally, but one of the hardest things for most humans is listening to criticism. Usually, it's because those delivering the criticism are doing it for the wrong reasons (not really trying to help us improve, but build a case for termination). But that doesn't mean that there may be some nuggets of real value where we can improve - IF we truly listen and not immediately put up the firewall.
 
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IlseVdG

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Welcome to the forum Ilse! Your comments suggest you've read either TMF or UNSCRIPTED - maybe both. So you know the answer. The question becomes, will the meeting with the boss be your FTE? Remember, a true FTE means fear no longer gets in the way of your decision to move on.

As for repeating history. A lot of us have been there. Some of us still are. We know what we want to do - but "damn that paycheck is instant amnesia." (sorry MJ, I can't remember which book that was in)

Don't worry about not be much help. You'd be surprised how just sharing one's situation can help others. And when you are successfully on the Fastlane, you'll be here for others.

As for your meeting with the boss. I recommend you NOT build up a script or get defensive. If you've already made up your mind to leave, than what good is all the negative energy. Instead, just go in and listen. Please don't take this personally, but the one of the hardest things for most humans is listening to criticism. Usually, it's because those delivering the criticism are doing it for the wrong reasons (not really trying to help us improve, but build a case for termination). But that doesn't mean that there may be some nuggets of real value where we can improve - IF we truly listen and not immediately put up the firewall.
Thank you so much, Ernman, for this valuable feedback! I will do it like you said. I know inside that you're right, even if it's hard. Thank you. I needed this.
 

Suzanne Bazemore

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So, what are my options?

1. Fill the coming days with making a defense dossier for my bosses, preparing my plea, not resting at all, exhausting myself in defense;
2. Trying to find another job where history can repeat itself, and not resting at all, exhausting myself in trying to sell myself once more;
3. Resting, energizing myself with physical exercise, reviewing my way of looking at things, do some introspection, let it all go and wait for inspiration to come;
4. Complaining on a beautiful forum like this, hoping for help in some way, but if I'm honest: I'm not yet with the big league, the people who are doing it. I'll first have to earn credits to get help;
5. Take action for long term solution: my own business, although I have no clue what this will be exactly
6. Trying to seek for a healthy combination of the above mentioned?
Welcome to the forum, @IlseVdG. I think you already know what to do, because you have organized your options in order from least desirable to most desirable. I believe that you have already decided against options 1 and 2. 3 and 4 are the steps you are taking now, and these steps have given you clarity. Options 5 and 6 are where your future lies. There is nothing wrong with having a job - everyone needs to pay bills - but maybe you can reduce your bills and take a job that will allow you to stretch for option 5, establishing your own business.

The question becomes, will the meeting with the boss be your FTE? Remember, a true FTE means fear no longer gets in the way of your decision to move on.
It's interesting how fear gets removed after the FTE, or multiple FTE's. Age doesn't matter, @IlseVdG. I am older than you. I don't think anyone cares how old you are. I believe that no one knows how much time they have left, whether they are 17 or 70, and life is too precious to waste achieving other people's goals.
 
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IlseVdG

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This exactly. I recently posted a thread on here too about quitting my job at the end of the year.

I have no fear anymore about taking this step. That's one reason I knew I was ready.
Thank you, ravenspear, I found the thread: "I Made It To The Top Of The Slowlane But I Still Want More"
-> I will read this!
 
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IlseVdG

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Welcome to the forum, @IlseVdG. I think you already know what to do, because you have organized your options in order from least desirable to most desirable. I believe that you have already decided against options 1 and 2. 3 and 4 are the steps you are taking now, and these steps have given you clarity. Options 5 and 6 are where your future lies. There is nothing wrong with having a job - everyone needs to pay bills - but maybe you can reduce your bills and take a job that will allow you to stretch for option 5, establishing your own business.


It's interesting how fear gets removed after the FTE, or multiple FTE's. Age doesn't matter, @IlseVdG. I am older than you. I don't think anyone cares how old you are. I believe that no one knows how much time they have left, whether they are 17 or 70, and life is too precious to waste achieving other people's goals.
Thank you so much, Suzanne. Wow, you really get me. I never thought that this post would be read with so much attention. This is such a beautiful gift that I'm getting here today!! Now I'll definitely have to keep you guys posted. And do something. :) Thank you for your suggestions!
 
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IlseVdG

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Hi guys, just want to let you know that the meeting I had yesterday, was very cold. I'm betrayed by my own boss. He lied and lied... And I didn't go in defense. It's a lost case to me, anyway. Psychologically, I'm already let go of. I'm out. I'll give more details this weekend... or maybe that even isn't necessary. More importantly: I'm thankful for a lot of lucky coincidences and a lot of moral support of people around me these last days. Far more than I expected. I'm actually feeling alright. A lot more relaxed then the last few months. I have nothing lined up yet. No new job, no business (but I'm looking around and I'm getting myself out there, of course). I might get fired, or not. They actually need me there and can't afford to fire me, but on the other hand, there are so many strange things happening, that it's difficult to predict. It's weird to say, but amidst this termoil, I'm just feeling that I'm finding myself so much more. In my mind I'm already so much more free. This feeling was already building before I was informed about the 'meeting' with the bosses. It's as if they 'smelled' it, and want to give me a hand now ;-). The only thing I hope for, is that it doesn't come to a dismissal and that I can quit myself.
 

Suzanne Bazemore

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It's good to know where you stand, in my opinion, so taking action regarding this job lines up with what you want to do, anyway. Good luck, though, with handling it and I hope you get to be the one to make the decision.
 

Neng Her

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Quit.

First 2 weeks one company did the same thing to me. This must be your FTE. Best feeling ever when I left. It was scary but I it opened opportunities.
 

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IlseVdG

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Thank you so much for your comment! I'm so looking forward to be there with you, on the other side, in the independent's club.

Now one thing is also for sure: I will do nothing hasty and I will make a plan. It's just that I'm so anxious to get started. There's never been a time when I so much wanted to be free, than right now... Right now, I'm getting so disgusted thinking about the madness of letting other people tell you how to spend your time. Your time, your life!

Yesterday I bumped on this thread: "How To Stay Super Sharp After A Soul Crushing Job?". Very interesting. It’s actually what is happening right now. If you want to start something of you own, it all starts with taking the necessary distance from the soon-to-be-old job, so you have enough energy left to start to build up your own project. Not easy for a person with perfectionist tendencies. Unless of course... that person has a boss that does litterally anything (including lying) to encourage her not to care so much for her job anymore . It's all so perfect.

So, I am quitting my job, but for now, it's just the fase of quitting in the mind (which is already a huge deal for me, it has created a huge shift in how I feel, even physically). As long as I've nothing lined up to replace the job (i.e. another, less demanding job to combine with the startup, and/or the business itself), I'll keep at it. And of course, I'll keep that preparatory time as short as possible. The latest signals that I got at the office, is that the chance that I will be fired, is fairly small. So it seems that I will be able to leave on my on time. If I play it right.

The thing about not rushing to quit the job is also, that you can't skip lessons. There are reasons why I'm in such a pickle and I have to learn from that. Otherwise, it will keep coming back to me, hitting me in the face. I'm having a lot of interesting conversations about that with some lovely colleagues who are on my side, but who also help me to see the lesson to learn, the opportunity to take something from it that, something that will be useful for anything I will want to do in the future. Also my closest friend, and @Ernman on this forum, have kept me on my toes about that. I'm still very thankful for this, it also helped me to prepare for the meeting with the bosses.

Basically, the lesson for me is this: I have to learn when it's time to shut up, to stop being so deadly honest, and to start to play as if. It's not in my nature to do that, but I have to grow up. Being frank all the time is ok, as long as you can make it on yourself. Being insecure about standing on your own, is ok, as long as you can stand a boss. But being frank all the time and at the same time still depending on others to take the responsibility: that's deadly.

So as long as I have a boss, I have to act in accordance with it and play the game. Suck up my righteousness, even make a show if I need to, spare my energy where I can, and spend all the saved passion, sincerity and energy on my own thing. My boss is acting like an a$$ right now, because I have irritated him enormously (even though I was right as hell! ;-)). Now I have to pick up the pieces.

@ravenspear : I’m curious about your extra advice, if you have it. In any case, I will keep following your adventures. I'm looking forward to your next post!

To anyone else here, reading this: if you have any advice for me, practical or otherwise, please give it to me. In any case, I will get familiar with your opinions as I start to swim through all this information on this forum, and as start to find my way in it. (Frankly: it's a bit overwhelming right now.). To anyone who has already commented on this thread: thanks so much for your support!!
 
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IlseVdG

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Yes!!! :-( Thanks so much for your concern, Liam. What can I do. I have no money cushion. So I need a plan. I don't know what to do. Everything I do right now (taking courses), has only a long term effect, not a short term effect. I need an income. Or else I'm not seeing something. I'm looking for other jobs that hopefully will not kill me. But if I can find a way to stick out this one for al little longer, it will take less energy to stay there, than to make the transition to another job. It takes a lot of energy to begin another job. I want to come to the point where I can minimize the energy I put in my job, so I have enough left for enterprenourial action. But you might be right, you know! In any case, I'll think about it!

The thing is, I've already bailed out from law jobs in the past, and it was very hard at the time. I had no compass, didn't really know where to go, ended up having some other shitty jobs with shitty bosses, next to some creative, acting career that didn't really launch, and I had financial stress. Not a good place to be in. Now I have more of a compass (my enterprenourial dream), more energy and confidence. I'm learning a lot and I'm so happy to be able to ask questions here. But if I quit my job right now, I will have not enough money to be in circumstances where I don't have to worry about basic stuff, where I am in a quiet neighbourhood, not bothered by noisy neighbours, for example. :) That would kill me too. Some adventures in the past have already brought me in such circumstances, it was hell.

Thanks again, and please feel free to post your comments if you think I'm wrong. I'm just explaining my situation.
 
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IlseVdG

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Look at the stress, pain and suffering your current situation is causing you. This shit is killing you, its time for a change
I will make that change. I'm liturally praying for it, constanty, in the back of my mind. I WILL find a way. Thanks so much for your support, it means a lot.
 

FierceRacoon

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Learn to live on less money. Many people can live on 1/5 of a lawyer's salary. Even if you have to endure another 1-2 years of another job, with enough dedication you can save enough for a few years' worth of experiments. So at the very least you will have a financial cushion next time. And right now you have to be SAVING.

Now, if you need the psychological push of having no security, then quit. But otherwise it's a long-term game, and you will need to eat something while you are learning. So unless you need the psychological push, don't rush to quit. But in that case, again, you have to be saving a lot, and you have to be spending time working on your dreams — at least 20 hours/week, I'd say, and you have to be working at it as hard as you are working on your job. You can get up at 6am and start the day by working on your dreams if this is what it takes, you can do it every weekday, but keep your job for the time being.

I have to learn when it's time to shut up, to stop being so deadly honest, and to start to play as if. It's not in my nature to do that, but I have to grow up. Being frank all the time is ok, as long as you can make it on yourself.
Well, let me tell you something. Being frank all the time is a terrible idea. Imagine the CEO of Google being frank during an earnings call. "How are you doing?" — "Well, I've just had some indigestion from old yoghurt, so I feel disgusting..." Or imagine a child asking, if the Santa Claus is real; are you going to be frank?

There is a fine line between being a very honest person and being a know-it-all a**hole that nobody can get along with. More likely than not people who are always "honest" are either deluding themselves or live in a siloed environment where their beliefs are never truly tested. Similarly, there is a fine line between being a perfectionist and doing a lot of unnecessary work (and trying to get credit for that).

I would suggest reframing "I am being deadly honest" as "I don't know how to interact with people". When you see yourself as deadly honest, since honesty is a value that many hold very high, it is very difficult to change. However, what good has your honesty accomplished in this case? Is the company doing much better than it would without your honesty? Is your boss any happier? Are you any happier? For many, there is an even higher value called "kindness". If honesty and kindness come into conflict, choose kindness. Now, you may be worried that doing so would erode your values, but at your age it is unlikely. Most probably your "honesty" includes 10% of the good stuff and 90% of the bad stuff that has nothing to do with integrity and is just a habit of irritating people that you label as honesty.

So what? So my boss apparently has chosen to forget that, for example, although I have no training whatsoever in this area, I have created an ‘algorithm’ (I didn’t even know what an ‘algorithm’ was at that time), just by playing with possible solutions, whilst standing in a crowded, full train, writing on a paper against the wall of the corridor.
To me, this also looks like a case of misplaced expectations. OK, you have made a contribution in an area that is not your job. Great! But it is not your job. E.g. if you are a janitor and you got to fly the plane in an emergency, great, but you are still expected to do the janitorial work. Unless, that is, you want to rise to the level of creating algorithms as your day-to-day work. Then you have to pitch this idea to your boss or your boss's boss, and they have to approve. Otherwise, while it's unwise for them to not acknowledge your initiative that has benefited the firm greatly, and while it may mean that your opportunities there are limited, it's hard to blame them on those grounds alone.

And now, almost half a year later, my boss blames me for not having good results with these projects.
I've had a similar situation myself more than once, with different bosses. In retrospect, it was a case of poor social skills on both sides. That is, the boss is bad at communicating, and the employee is equally bad at communicating. When the things go south, as they eventually will, the boss blames the employee. Being insecure doesn't help either. Say, you see that there is a problem, but you can't explain it to the boss assertively. Then 6 months later the project fails. It could've been prevented if the boss had been a better listener — or if the employee had been more persuasive. Some environments are awful, others moderately so, but it is probably also a symptom that your communication could improve a lot.

Also regarding
In short: I’m delivering quality, because that’s the way I’m wired.
,
if your bosses are unhappy with your performance, and if it's a repeated pattern, are you really so sure of your statement? Quality doesn't exist in isolation. If your hairdresser gives you a perfect haircut, but one that doesn't suit your style nor the occasion, is it still quality? Quality is a good North Star for a student trying to earn an A, but it may be too simplistic and naive for a 41-year old. You are not doing factory production work. Legal work is very nuanced, so what constitutes "quality" is very subjective. Say, you are extremely detailed in your work, cross-check every reference, there are no typos, the language flows, and all paragraphs are organized in a logical fashion. This will certainly earn some points for the firm.

But then, if you are being pedantic when talking to your coworkers, it can introduce little frustrations, which may lead to diminished productivity and ultimately take some points from the firm. Are you really sure that the additional effect of you going the extra mile is really that valuable, compared to tolerating your eccentricities?

As a rule of thumb, if you aren't making people around you feel good, it severely undermines everything else such as skill, work ethic, long hours, because other people get tired of dealing with you, they stop telling you little pieces of information and find other ways of getting things done that don't involve you — and you end up being less impactful.
 

Fastlane Liam

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I will make that change. I'm liturally praying for it, constanty, in the back of my mind. I WILL find a way. Thanks so much for your support, it means a lot.
No worries man. Lets take it a step further, what ideas do you have on your mind business wise? Be as specific or vague as you like
 
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IlseVdG

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I want to create something that is of value. I’m looking around for ideas. Two things are on my mind right now. I want to write and I want to see if I can create apps.

As for creating apps: I’m just at the beginning. Don’t even know it if I can. I just enrolled in Codemy. I think you can compare it to learning the alphabet? It’s fun, but it’s of course nothing like the real work. Thusfar, I like it! I have an idea about a desktop app that want to create.

As for the writing: I have no concrete idea yet. I think that could be a good channel for me to provide value. I just need to get started.

Any comment, advice, alternative idea: super welcome.
 
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IlseVdG

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Learn to live on less money. Many people can live on 1/5 of a lawyer's salary. Even if you have to endure another 1-2 years of another job, with enough dedication you can save enough for a few years' worth of experiments. So at the very least you will have a financial cushion next time. And right now you have to be SAVING.

Now, if you need the psychological push of having no security, then quit. But otherwise it's a long-term game, and you will need to eat something while you are learning. So unless you need the psychological push, don't rush to quit. But in that case, again, you have to be saving a lot, and you have to be spending time working on your dreams — at least 20 hours/week, I'd say, and you have to be working at it as hard as you are working on your job. You can get up at 6am and start the day by working on your dreams if this is what it takes, you can do it every weekday, but keep your job for the time being.



Well, let me tell you something. Being frank all the time is a terrible idea. Imagine the CEO of Google being frank during an earnings call. "How are you doing?" — "Well, I've just had some indigestion from old yoghurt, so I feel disgusting..." Or imagine a child asking, if the Santa Claus is real; are you going to be frank?

There is a fine line between being a very honest person and being a know-it-all a**hole that nobody can get along with. More likely than not people who are always "honest" are either deluding themselves or live in a siloed environment where their beliefs are never truly tested. Similarly, there is a fine line between being a perfectionist and doing a lot of unnecessary work (and trying to get credit for that).

I would suggest reframing "I am being deadly honest" as "I don't know how to interact with people". When you see yourself as deadly honest, since honesty is a value that many hold very high, it is very difficult to change. However, what good has your honesty accomplished in this case? Is the company doing much better than it would without your honesty? Is your boss any happier? Are you any happier? For many, there is an even higher value called "kindness". If honesty and kindness come into conflict, choose kindness. Now, you may be worried that doing so would erode your values, but at your age it is unlikely. Most probably your "honesty" includes 10% of the good stuff and 90% of the bad stuff that has nothing to do with integrity and is just a habit of irritating people that you label as honesty.



To me, this also looks like a case of misplaced expectations. OK, you have made a contribution in an area that is not your job. Great! But it is not your job. E.g. if you are a janitor and you got to fly the plane in an emergency, great, but you are still expected to do the janitorial work. Unless, that is, you want to rise to the level of creating algorithms as your day-to-day work. Then you have to pitch this idea to your boss or your boss's boss, and they have to approve. Otherwise, while it's unwise for them to not acknowledge your initiative that has benefited the firm greatly, and while it may mean that your opportunities there are limited, it's hard to blame them on those grounds alone.


I've had a similar situation myself more than once, with different bosses. In retrospect, it was a case of poor social skills on both sides. That is, the boss is bad at communicating, and the employee is equally bad at communicating. When the things go south, as they eventually will, the boss blames the employee. Being insecure doesn't help either. Say, you see that there is a problem, but you can't explain it to the boss assertively. Then 6 months later the project fails. It could've been prevented if the boss had been a better listener — or if the employee had been more persuasive. Some environments are awful, others moderately so, but it is probably also a symptom that your communication could improve a lot.

Also regarding
,
if your bosses are unhappy with your performance, and if it's a repeated pattern, are you really so sure of your statement? Quality doesn't exist in isolation. If your hairdresser gives you a perfect haircut, but one that doesn't suit your style nor the occasion, is it still quality? Quality is a good North Star for a student trying to earn an A, but it may be too simplistic and naive for a 41-year old. You are not doing factory production work. Legal work is very nuanced, so what constitutes "quality" is very subjective. Say, you are extremely detailed in your work, cross-check every reference, there are no typos, the language flows, and all paragraphs are organized in a logical fashion. This will certainly earn some points for the firm.

But then, if you are being pedantic when talking to your coworkers, it can introduce little frustrations, which may lead to diminished productivity and ultimately take some points from the firm. Are you really sure that the additional effect of you going the extra mile is really that valuable, compared to tolerating your eccentricities?

As a rule of thumb, if you aren't making people around you feel good, it severely undermines everything else such as skill, work ethic, long hours, because other people get tired of dealing with you, they stop telling you little pieces of information and find other ways of getting things done that don't involve you — and you end up being less impactful.
Hi Fierce Racoon

First of all, thank you so much for taking the time for writing this long advice. I appreciate it! The actual problems are more nuanced, but I blame the misunderstanding on my bad English and my omission of details (I already let go of the problems, don’t feel the need to go on and on about it). But anyway: I can see your point very clearly. You’ve shown me what my faults look like through a magnifying glass and I thank you for that. I can use that, and I will act on that! Thank you.

Now, for anyone who reads this, just to make some things clear:

1. The problem with the boss. My name was put under a document that contained so much legal flaws and risk (risk at a legal level but, as a consequence, also at the operational level of the firm), that I couldn’t help but to react on that. How could this happen? In short: politics. My boss, for some reason, felt himself not in the position to stand up against the technical director, mentioned above. So, legal advice on the subject had been overthrown and there’s nothing to do about it. On the outside however, it all needed to seem ‘legally approved’. On the going against legal advice: no problem for me. I know my place. I’ve seen it happen a million times. The problem is however, that my professional integrity was compromised by that communication of the document under my name. That means, that every problem that I foresaw would have landed on my desk and would have been blamed on me. I sent an e-mail to my boss, stating that I had no intention whatsoever to delay the project, or to try to change the decision that was already made. I just wanted to make clear that I didn’t legally approve of the document. Just to avoid misunderstandings. Now, if all that would have been just detail, my boss would just have laughed and gone on. But my boss, even if he’s more on the opposite side of the spectrum of diligence, he’s not stupid. He knew I was right. And so by getting this e-mail, he felt he was forced to do something about it, and to go into another discussion about it with the difficult technical director. Bosses, as a rule, do not like to be forced. I should’ve known better.

My current job, in a firm with a legal staff that is only half of the legal staff of firms of equal size, is asking me to compromise my professional integrity to a degree that I never would accept if I were independent. But being an employee, I have to pay that price now. That’s the lesson. I have manners, I’m quite diligent in my communication and I am protective of the feelings of others. I’m even more introvert than extravert. But I’ve never gone with the group of with the boss, just to save my but, when I felt that would be the less moral or diligent option, businesswise or otherwise. If needed, I can be very assertive (even if my hands are shaking when I’m stating my case). And that’s essentially a good thing. If I were put in an experiment like the famous Milgram experiment or the Stanford Prison experiment, I would be likely one of those who can walk out without being ashamed. But if I set my mind on keeping a job for a while, I have to learn to be smarter about the games being played.

Note: the document was adapted afterwards, but not nearly enough. The first problems and complaints have already landed on my desk last week. So my efforts didn’t only come with far to high a price, they were fruitless on top of that.

2. My connection to my closest colleagues, the ones I work with every day, is very good. To a degree that I hadn’t even imagined. It’s in the tough times, that you really get to see that. They’re just marvelous, doing what they can to help me to stay put. The boss, to ‘help me improve’, has now even doubled my tasks (conveniently, in view of the absences and departure of colleagues), but my colleagues are doing what they can to pitch in. They’re telling me over and over about how they’d hate to see me leave. Two senior colleagues in particular have taken me under their wings to help me out on the strategical level, to help me get out of this mess. It’s some of the more distant colleagues, who don’t know me that well, and who have some kind of interest in this difficult situation of overwork and burnouts, to put me in a negative spotlight, who are spreading some negative echoes about my work.

3. My yearly income is roughly 38.000 dollar, so nothing luxurious. I have already tried to get out of the rat race, without success. Afterwards I had to start all over again, at the bottom of the ladder. There’s no built-up expertise that I can cash in on as an employee.

But as I said, all this doesn’t mean that I don’t need to work at my flaws and take the right action, as you pointed out. Again: you’re right. That’s why I started this thread to begin with. Thank you!
 
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IlseVdG

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So, I want to spend as much time as possible, from now on, at going forward with my entreprenourial dream:

I want to create something that is of value. I’m looking around for ideas. Two things are on my mind right now. I want to write and I want to see if I can create apps.

As for creating apps: I’m just at the beginning. Don’t even know it if I can. I just enrolled in Codemy. I think you can compare it to learning the alphabet? It’s fun, but it’s of course nothing like the real work. Thusfar, I like it! I have an idea about a desktop app that want to create.

As for the writing: I have no concrete idea yet. I think that could be a good channel for me to provide value. I just need to get started.

Any comment, advice, alternative idea: super welcome.
 
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Suzanne Bazemore

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Now one thing is also for sure: I will do nothing hasty and I will make a plan. It's just that I'm so anxious to get started. There's never been a time when I so much wanted to be free, than right now... Right now, I'm getting so disgusted thinking about the madness of letting other people tell you how to spend your time. Your time, your life!
One thing that could be helpful is to remind yourself that now you are working for a different purpose - for example, set aside a portion of your paycheck, or intentionally pick up some new skills in your current position for your new adventure. Let the purpose behind staying become the launching pad for your new adventure. For you, it might be finishing those lessons you are learning, and how they can help you in your other pursuits.
 

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IlseVdG

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Thank you so much, Suzanne, that is so right on, from beginning to end! Thanks!! For this weekend, I promised myself to dedicate myself to my coding lessons, because it really makes me feel good, just for the reason that you mentioned. So I'm now checking out from this forum for a while :) Keep in touch? Love your comments. Thanks for the support.
 

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Hi guys, just want to let you know that the meeting I had yesterday, was very cold. I'm betrayed by my own boss. He lied and lied... And I didn't go in defense. It's a lost case to me, anyway. Psychologically, I'm already let go of. I'm out. I'll give more details this weekend... or maybe that even isn't necessary. More importantly: I'm thankful for a lot of lucky coincidences and a lot of moral support of people around me these last days. Far more than I expected. I'm actually feeling alright. A lot more relaxed then the last few months. I have nothing lined up yet. No new job, no business (but I'm looking around and I'm getting myself out there, of course). I might get fired, or not. They actually need me there and can't afford to fire me, but on the other hand, there are so many strange things happening, that it's difficult to predict. It's weird to say, but amidst this termoil, I'm just feeling that I'm finding myself so much more. In my mind I'm already so much more free. This feeling was already building before I was informed about the 'meeting' with the bosses. It's as if they 'smelled' it, and want to give me a hand now ;-). The only thing I hope for, is that it doesn't come to a dismissal and that I can quit myself.
I was in a similar situation a year ago. I wish the agency would have let me go because then I could have gotten unemployment benefits (US) but they never did. I wound up quitting and wasn’t eligible for benefits. I don’t know how things work in your country but it’s worth considering.
 
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IlseVdG

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Hi! What did you do after quitting?
Yes, indeed, that would be the upside to the downside, the unemployment benefits and the freedom to build a business. There are (limited, but definite) possibilities combine those two in Belgium. Thanks for your message!
 

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