I have been in a new role for about 6 weeks now, since the beginning of the year, and it is challenging my self-identity, as so often happens when you step in to a new role. This has been difficult at times, but also feels really healthy and good – I am being shaken awake, and brought face to face with my own stories about myself that may not be true. One of the stories I did not even realize I had was that I was in control of my work life. Had you asked me if I believed that about myself, I would probably have said no, of course not, because that is the obvious “right” answer. But I did have a fair amount of control, or at least I thought I did. At the beginning of the day I knew what meetings I had, what my top priorities were, and most days I could count on those remaining fairly stable over the course of the day, or even the week. On the rare days when some big unexpected thing came my way, I was very unsettled by that experience and needing to adjust in response.
My new role requires me to be more attuned to changes in the environment and situation, more responsive to others’ needs, and able to let go of what I thought my plan was for the day in order to address the more important thing that just came my way. If I stay attached to what I thought I would get done, I end up unhappy and closed off to whatever is emerging in front of me. I won’t lie, it is really hard some days. Sometimes I crave more predictability.
The interesting thing is that I probably have a broader sphere of influence now. In part that is due to my positional authority. But deeper than that, it might be precisely because I am practicing letting go of my attachment to what I thought should be, allowing me to be more present to what is. I don’t know. I just know that every day at work I get to practice not knowing what is going to happen next, and when I fall back into thinking that I do know, I usually get reminded that I am not in charge. Over and over again. Just like life.