for being anyone other than yourself!!!! I’ve participated in multiple conversations over the last week that reminded me of this.
On Sunday, I got to represent STEM for HER at the She’s the First American University Chapter “Day of the Girl Summit” on their Women in STEM panel. During the event, one of the other speakers shared their experience with convincing themselves to speak up in meetings and make sure their voice was heard. Another panelist identified the problem as one of keeping women in STEM, rather than focus on it as a pipeline problem. Throughout my career, I’ve made it a point of always speak up. Even at my shyest I felt it was important to have my voice heard. This might not have always won me any favors, but it’s part of my principles. I pride myself on my honesty and loyalty. This means that the people I work with and for can trust me to tell them the truth as I see it. If I’m granted respect and trust in return, I can be very loyal. This same comfortableness has guided my decisions to find my own way when I wasn’t getting what I needed from different jobs.
A second conversation occurred with a former employee of mine. He is still at the company where I left him, and is doing quite well as a technical operations manager. He was expressing his thoughts and considerations about bailing out of technology to do something manual like build fences. When he asked how things were going and whether I enjoyed what I’m doing, I talked about consulting being a place where I fit in well. People hire me because they know me and know what I will accomplish. This gives me the forum and format for sharing my expertise, giving my opinions and getting the job done.
I don’t apologize for who I am. Years ago my brother said that “I needed to learn to play office politics and get along with people.” The implication was that if I didn’t do those things, I would be un-hireable. It took me many years, but in some ways he was right. If playing office politics and getting along with people means that I’m trying to withhold my opinions or manipulate the situation to get what I need, then I’d rather not participate. I want to work with places and people who encourage and support me for what I bring to the table…my honesty, loyalty and ability to get the job done.
Each of us needs to look critically at ourselves and figure out who we want to be and what we need to be successful. Once you’ve determined that, it’s a lot easier to figure out if your current situation fulfills you. If not, it’s your responsibility to fix what’s broken or find something else.