Unless I have had the opportunity of meeting you in person or communicating with you via online discussion I do not know your individual story or where you are in your individual career life cycle however if your career story is anything like mine you have had some good, bad and down right ugly times in your life and career. There is no judgement, just a hypothesis based on ones’ personal experiences and those of clients one has helped over the years.
So often we get caught up in the should’s of life and our careers, which basically translates into us placing expectations on ourselves, that we lose sight of are the bare basics; simply put that life and our careers come down to two fundamental aspects – experiences and relationships. Be it the relationship we have with ourselves and/or others or the experiences we crate or are presented to us in order to grow, develop and evolve as human beings.
Thus, when you look at the purpose of your career it really comes down to simply determining what you perceive as meaningful and worthwhile, your personality, career interests, aptitude, strengths, your essential and desirable criteria, development requirements and opportunities you can create or capture to provide you with occasions to experience life and relationships in different forms whilst been remunerated (paid) for it on a regular basis in order to enable you to create the life, experiences and relationships you want personally.
Therefore, as I have told many clients over the years, whilst you may perceive an aspect, experience or incident in your life is good, bad or ugly and yes whilst you may or may not like what is occurring and be experiencing a range of emotions that affect you now and potentially for some time to come there is always something you can take from the situation and apply it to your career or future moving forward.
Take for example a situation that occurred to me in the mid-late 90’s as a 20’s something; I was working for a female employer at the time who provided finance to a well-known global real-estate brand across Sydney. At the time this female employer said to me in front of the whole office “Oh you will never be as good as Nicole or Graham”. At the time this 40’s somethings comment really upset and humiliated me; it added another scare to an already battered sense of self and effected my confidence and self-worth for a considerable period of time both in conscious and subconscious ways.
Shortly after the initial ego bruising subsided, I started to utilise this comment as motivational fuel. That is, it made me more determined to prove this individual wrong and whilst I already had my Certificate IV in HR and other qualifications, I turned this around by saying frequently to myself “I will prove you wrong xyz” and “just you wait and see I will show you”.
The point is you have a choice you can either take on board other peoples nasty, toxic comments, (which let’s face it are coming from their own insecurities, lack of self-worth and belief and are projected onto you so they have a sense of feeling better about themselves – not healthy at all) and let it erode you or you can harness this into positive energy, intention and action and utilise it as fuel to motivate you to achieve your goal(s).
From a day to day career stand point, these experiences and relationships provide you with challenges to surmount, insights and key transferable skills – yes you heard me. Take a step back and think about what you have learnt and can take from this experience for example communication, assertiveness, conflict resolution, managing difficult people and behaviours, coping strategies, stress management and relaxation just to name a few.
The question then becomes now that you have had a chance to debrief, step back and reflect on the experience and/or relationship do you want to use these insights and skills in order to develop your career; the choice is yours and it must sit comfortably with you.
As for me, as a Career Development Specialist, Counsellor and Human Resource Professional I choose to utilise these skills and experiences to help others through the good, bad and ugly times that they are experiencing (when relevant/appropriate to disclose of course). For me it is all about context, intent and how you pull everything together that will determine if you make a success of your career.
In closing, if you have experienced workplace abuse or bullying please note that this is not OK and that one encourages you to open up and discuss this with a trusted friend, family member, mentor, Counsellor and or appropriate professional to help you through this difficult time and the recovery process. It’s not easy but if you are brave enough to look in time when it does not hurt so much it is possible that you may have learnt something that you can capture and apply to your career moving forward.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (2018 Version)
Katherine is the Founder of Blu Ripples a specialist Career Counselling and Consulting practice located in Port Stephens NSW. Katherine is a nationally registered Career Development Specialist and Counsellor; is a Professional Member of the Career Development Association of Australia, Member of the Australian Counselling Association. Former CDAA NSW Committee Member; Graduate of RMIT and AIPC.
Katherine has worked in private practice since 2003 and prior to that worked in the corporate sector for a period of 12 years predominantly in Human Resources and Administration.
© 2018 - Katherine Foster T/as Blu Ripples
Updated Version 7 Oct 2023; Originally Posted 19 March 2018
Katherine's Photograph: 2023