Vernon Howard says “A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep.”
One of the most liberating moments of my life happened when I was still working in the Corporate world. I took my power back!
I can hear many people saying “You did What?” I’ll say it again – I took my power back!
For years I had been a doormat to bosses and colleagues alike who often took their frustrations out on me. Work was taken away from incompetent employees and dumped on me and I just accepted it. The more pressure that I was put under the more I just accepted it.
I can actually see a whole bunch of you reading this with absolute disbelief – you cannot even begin to imagine me being like that – well that is because I am a different person now – I took my power back.
For months I had been coached and guided by my mentor, for months I had resisted this profound change because I was afraid. How would I do it? What would my friends think? What would my family think? Would I still have a job? Would I be fired or would I be forced to resign?
I was sitting in yet another meeting where it was brought to everyone’s attention that XYZ department was again in a state of chaos. It was a department that was constantly in a state of chaos and the mess had already been handed over to me to sort out – several times.
Each time I had come to work at 4am and only left after 7pm, so that I could manage my already heavy workload and fit in the ‘fix up’ that needed to be done. Each time I had handed everything back to the department in question, in pristine condition, figures balanced, reports completed, filing done.
Each time the incompetents had walked away without any kind of consequence, in fact they had been rewarded in a way, because they didn’t have to work late or come in early to fix up their mess. They took no responsibility and they were not held accountable!
Each time the mess was just dumped on me without any kind of reward or even so much as a thank you. In fact that year my boss had even “forgotten” (his words) to give me an increase! How disgusting was that?
So, there I was sitting at this meeting, listening to the whole decision and the discussion around the “mess” and how it was going to be given back to me to sort out again and something inside of me just broke! As it broke, I realized that if I didn’t make the decision to change the situation, to in effect – take my power back, I would continue in this way for the rest of my life and that thought just made my heart sink right down to the bottom of my toes.
I grabbed my notebook and immediately wrote out my letter of resignation. I signed the letter, tore the sheet out of my notebook, handed the letter to my boss and walked out of the meeting. With each heavy step my terror increased – what had I done? My footsteps faltered and I almost turned back, until I heard my boss say “Don’t worry about her, she’ll be back and she will sort this out!” With those words I realized just what they did think of me and my determination and resolve to do what was best for me cemented itself into hard granite. There was no turning back! I started walking again to my office where I packed up my stuff and walked out the door.
On my way home, with each step that I took, it felt as though I was shedding a load that had pinned me down for as long as I could remember. I also realized just how empowered I had become, when several phone calls later the bosses were begging me to come back and in fact even tried to get my aunt to ‘talk’ to me as I was making a very big mistake. The only mistake I had made of course, was not doing that a lot sooner.
Was I cured overnight – of course not. Like most things in life, it’s a process. You have to do it over and over again until there is an imprint on your brain that tells you that you are worthy and that you do deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and it was only years later that I finally came to the realization that ‘other people’s opinion of me is none of my business”. It was only years later that I came to the realization that the only person’s approval that I need is my own. But on that day, the day that I handed in my resignation and walked out of the door, that was the day that I took my power back and gave myself permission to be the person that I could be, the person that I wanted to be and the person that I am happy to live with today – me.
Is my journey complete? Of course not – we are all ‘a work in progress’, but I am most definitely going in the right direction. The question of course is . . . . are you?