I have struggled with my bosses. According to my therapist, I am expecting people who have consistently demonstrated that they don’t have my back, to have my back. An old pattern of mine, and the definition of crazy!
This weekend was my Ovarian Cancer walk. The walk is held by a foundation I support all year. The foundation embodies all that my son and I hold dear – awareness, support and money for research; all things desperately needed for ovarian cancer.
I’ve spent the past 5 months soliciting donations towards our team. I have a friendly competition with other women affected by OVCA, and I wanted to raise more than anyone else – which I did not 🙂 Each dollar though, is really, really important. The foundation has given $4 million to researchers, any one of which could be the difference between life and death for women. This is an important cause.
The day before the walk my cousin donated a large amount to my team. I felt really guilty, and I asked why she had done this. The last thing I want is for a loved one to hurt themselves financially for a cause I am crazed about. She said “It’s not too much. We love you and could have lost you”.
Plain and simple. This is the behavior of a normal person who loves me.
The next day was the walk, and a few people from my yoga studio showed up – a huge show of support as it’s not an easy/comfortable event.
In stark contrast, the owners of my studio, i.e. my employers, didn’t donate to my team, didn’t offer to participate, and didn’t once support me, either on social media or in the studio. In fact, one of the owners, two days before the walk, posted about a different walk on the same day, describing the woman involved as “passionate” and “fierce”.
Talk about a wake up call!
What is really interesting about this is the fact that this all happened the same week as my “annual review” (in quotes, because it has been almost 1.5 years). During my review I was told how important I am to them, how much they love me, what a great job I do and how much I contribute to the business. I left the review feeling really great about my work and about my bosses; about my relationship to them.
It wasn’t until Saturday that it hit me – Actions Speak Louder Than Words.
My cousin said it all in 2 simple sentences:
We love you. We could have lost you.
These are the words and actions of someone who really loves you.
If I were to ask my bosses why they didn’t donate to my team I’d hear a plethora of excuses, many of which might feel genuine and legitimate.
I might ask them. If I do, I’ll write a blog about the excuses I hear, but only to illustrate how easy it is for certain people to divert our attention; i.e manipulate.
If I ask them, I’ll hear things like:
- We support you in other ways
- We can’t play favorites
- We were planning to donate another time.
- We’re short on $; have too many other causes to support.
- We didn’t know it mattered.
Regardless of what I do with this, I clearly understand now how much/little, I matter to these people. For all of their talk about loving me, caring how I feel, supporting me in all I do, the reality is that I am an employee. I’m a good and valued employee, but I’m an employee.
And you know what? It is OK that I’m just an employee. I can’t expect to be held fiercely in the heart of everyone in my life. Some people will remain on the fringes, if for no other reason than as humans we are all limited in our capacity to love and support.
What isn’t OK though, is to create smoke screens. It is not OK to tell someone that you love and support them, on a personal level, when you don’t. It is 100% not OK to tell someone that they are special to you, when in fact you just need them there to make your life easier.
I’m not saying my bosses are narcissists, but I’m familiar with the stories I’d hear if I asked them why the didn’t donate. I’d hear:
- You didn’t give us enough notice
- You weren’t clear about how to donate
- We didn’t understand how much this meant to you
- It was really bad timing for us
- Sometimes you expect too much
In the end, what really matters is how you feel. When you walk away from an important encounter with a person, do you feel wrapped in a cocoon of love, or are you wondering what right you have to exist? Seek out the people who wrap you in the cocoon of love. They have your back.
& those that make you question what right you have to exist? They have no place in your life. Treat them the way you treat the cashier at the grocery store, or the clerk at the drugstore – be polite, but put no value on how they treat you. They simply don’t matter.