Unproductive Anger

Today was my first day back at work since finding out we’ll be going to Malabo for our first tour.  Cormac and I spent all weekend looking up things to do, what food is available, and consuming any available information about the culture, economy, and day to day life on the island.  I was feeling great about our next post…

And then I went to work.  And I was surrounded by people who got our top pick posts, or who were complaining about things that seemed ridiculous, or were just in a better place than me mentally.  I got annoyed.  And I got cynical.   And then, somehow, I lost sight of all of the good things I had spent so much time reading about, and somehow let all of the bad things take over.  YIKES!

Hearing the first few speakers talk about how important language proficiency is for our success, when I will receive no language training, was infuriating.  Having someone tell us to get in touch with the Community Liaison Officer (CLO) with our questions, when my post doesn’t have a CLO, was infuriating.  All of the “it depends” answers that we always get, were infuriating.  Forget about the beautiful landscapes and great opportunities waiting for us in Malabo, I WAS MAD!

Thankfully, a good friend saw me getting ready to melt down, and offered up various distractions.  I’m so lucky to have someone supportive with me at work during this transition.

I spent my lunch hour talking to my classmates about all of the great things about my post, and listening to their challenges and hopes for their assignments.  By the time I had to head back to class, I was more or less back to my happy place.  But this morning was a good lesson in the importance of surrounding myself with positive people.  Being mad about something I can’t change won’t make this process any easier, and prevents me from absorbing information that will make this transition run smoothly.  I know not everyday will be the best day, but I can make sure that they aren’t all that bad.

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One thought on “Unproductive Anger

  1. Lauren, trust me when I say this, you will learn so much more than your colleagues who get the “more desirable” assignments and you will get SO much out of this! Over 30 years ago I started as a rookie marketing rep in a huge American computer company, with a boss who didn’t think women could cut it. I had a master’s degree in public administration, a few years in law enforcement, and clouds of blond hair. He assigned me to an engineering and scientific account that hated us and hadn’t bought from us in 13 years, because he figured it couldn’t get any worse so I couldn’t possibly screw it up. I didn’t understand computers, I didn’t understand the commission system, and I didn’t understand my customer’s business, so I figured I’d better be pleasant and friendly, listen really well to my customer, work my buns off and learn everything I could. Within 3 years, I had sold them $15M worth of gear, won every award my company could give out, and within another 2 years I was promoted into management. I had an incredible career, broke lots of records, turned around lots of competitive accounts, started new business areas, and received lots of notice and rewards, and more than 3 years after I retired, they still keep calling me back and making me offers I can’t refuse to do interesting and challenging work as a contractor to them.

    The point is, throughout my entire career, I welcomed every opportunity that I came across to take the toughest assignments, the ones no one else really wanted. There’s no down side. No one is expected to really excel when they get the less desirable assignments, but when they manage to turn it into something wonderful, and they excel and thrive and do great things, they are noticed, promoted and rewarded far beyond those who are given the easy assignments and have the expected successes.

    You have that opportunity now. You are going to a place that isn’t well developed. There will be challenges. There will also be so many opportunities to learn! I’m sorry there’s no CLO to tell you what to do, but the good news is that there’s no CLO to tell you what NOT to do, which means you can explore your options and try things that might be frowned upon in a more mainstream assignment. You’ll have to be more inventive than your colleagues in the cushy assignments, but you’re also going to have a lot more freedom. You have fewer people to learn from about Malabo, but you can always take the same approach I did with my assignment at my first customer. Be pleasant and friendly, listen really well, work your buns off and learn everything you can.

    I know first hand from my experience growing up as the child of a State Department in Ethiopia that it can be really stressful just living in another country from time to time, especially if you don’t know the language. My sister and I were terribly well behaved because we knew from the time we were toddlers that if we misbehaved it would reflect badly on the United States. A tough burden for tiny shoulders! So I really do empathize with your feelings. But look at it this way. Aside from an incredible opportunity to excel, you’re also going to be spending time on a tropical island with the man you love! I honestly don’t think life gets better than that! So start welcoming this incredible adventure, and make us all proud! Represent us well!

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