It’s not personal

I don’t know if it’s more common for folks working in the nonprofit sector or not, but I know that I have a really hard time keeping work and personal life separate. And I don’t mean the work-life balance like not checking email at night or talking about work with friends. I mean more like taking your work personally.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever written something that you think is awesome and then someone else (whether or not they know what they’re doing) completely rewrites it, with no context. Cough if you’ve busted your butt to launch a website on time, and as soon as it goes live, requests for changes come in. Maybe you’ve put together the best freaking statistics report the world has ever seen, and you are told it needs a few more numbers. Nod your head if you do everything you’re asked to do — and sometimes, it’s just not enough.

I think we’ve all been there, whether we work for a nonprofit, a corporation, you name it. And when you’re doing something you like/love/are passionate about, be it the issue, or the work itself, it’s even harder to separate yourself from the everyday doldrums and frustrations that come with a job.

It’s really hard to step back and acknowledge that you don’t have control over everything. And boy, do I know about the need for control.

Some days, I have to remind myself that my work is good and that I’m valuable and doing a great job, and that the needs and wants of others are not a reflection of me and my efforts. Some days, I have to remember that I don’t have the title of President or Executive Director or CEO next to my name, and even if I think my advice and strategy are the most awesome things to have ever been uttered, that I may not get my way, and that’s how things go.

Sometimes, I need my boss telling me I’m amazing but that I need to not take everything on myself — that it’s not personal, and I can only do what I can do. Sometimes, I need more than one boss telling me that.

The bottom line is that when you care about what you’re striving toward, and you have dreams and goals and ideas of how you would run the world, it’s easy to take the daily office challenges and hiccups to heart — because we care so darn much. But the bottom line is that it’s also a job. And in every job, and every office, this stuff happens. If you want to avoid it, go live alone in a forest by yourself. And unless you’re just a really big jerk, it’s not personal. It’s not personal. It’s not personal.



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