When I wrote the post Don’t keep your best for good: a lesson hard learnt, I thought ‘Excellent. Good Job. Done.’ …but that’s the thing about the school of life, there’s always a next lesson.
This is how it went… the legal firm I work for placed me on secondment with a client for 2 days per week. The brief was to work my usual [paralegal] document management magic on their system which hadn’t had the sort of attention it required for some time due to gaps in personnel. A meeting between our firm’s client partner, the clients and I clarified the arrangement… so we thought, but even prior to day one, I’d received a series of puzzling emails about which I was assured all would become clear. It did. It was clear there was a huge difference in the expectations of both sides.
On the first day, I was referred to as “half a lawyer”, and it became apparent rather than the usual process of referring legal work to our lawyers, the clients believed having a one-stop-shop legal person on site was going to be a huge cost benefit, to them. Unfortunately for them, I have no legal qualifications, not even half of a law degree. I cannot execute legal documents, file trademarks, negotiate commercial arrangements, or undertake corporate secretarial duties. Once I gently broke this news to the clients, defended my professional capabilities, reassured them I can build a great data room, and the ‘team’ would cover the rest as usual, they stopped communicating with me altogether.
For six long days, I sat at my desk, diligent in my process but cut adrift in their weirdly silent offices… I did mention above there were gaps in personnel, but there were gaps in personalities also. Finally, it dawned on my firm’s client partner, when the ostrich-like clients displayed disinclination to communicate with him as well, to heed my reports indicating things were awry.
Oh. My. God. Relief. The magic words:
“…have elected to terminate the secondment due to a variance in expectations, and timing… mismatch between expectations regarding the scope of assistance that you would be able to provide…the decision was not based on your personal performance and is not a decision that you should take personally in any way.”
I had one [private] ‘washing basket‘ moment, but I recognised the signs the void was beckoning. I reverted to the lessons I’d learnt, and utilised what I knew worked: the tangibles. I laced those joggers and walked every morning. I greeted the sun. I received pats from neighbourhood cats. I smelled the flowers. I talked it over with colleagues, the team and the G.O. who deserves a Listening Medal. Although I was busy with my usual role & projects, and suffering a literal (as well as figurative) ‘frozen shoulder’ from the Icelandic temperatures in the clients’ offices, which prevented me from spending more time at a keyboard than necessary, daily I looked to WordPress for worldwide wisdom & community, and got it, in spades.
I allowed myself a little stress about the discomfort I was feeling but I set boundaries, and analysed the situation.
- Not of my making
- Can’t be fixed by me.
- Not directed at me personally.
- Stressing will not help.
- Need to be patient.
The lesson this time was the intangibles. It gave me the opportunity to ask if I had trust in myself, my professional abilities and experience. Did I believe in me? Did I have the faith and courage to tolerate what was essentially a mistake which would in time resolve itself? Did I have the skills to negotiate my way through this delicate state of affairs?
My comments to two WordPress posts by Julie Hansen Intuitive, sum it up.
Interesting timing of this post, but nothing is an accident is it? I’ve been uncomfortable, and a bit peeved & sooky about a change in an aspect of my work. I’m trying to make the best of it and look at it as a growth opportunity, and here is your post to reinforce the message 🙂
Great post, esp. following on from the last. Since your previous post, I’ve been sitting with certain circumstances no amount of positive thinking, or anything I could do would change but which I couldn’t escape, reassuring myself it’s ok to be unhappy with those circumstances… reaffirming my belief in myself, gently doing what I could to maintain my integrity and illuminate those who had the power over the situation, and I’ve come out the other side, situation resolved and feeling strong for how I coped with it 🙂
I must give credit to my Dad. As a kid I did well academically especially, for the most, not so much sports, and at the times I didn’t do so well at school (or in life), but did my best, it was made clear it was enough.