I am lost. I have been lost before in my career. It's just that I did not write about it while it was happening. I wrote about it after the fact. That's much easier. But in the past, during the time I was lost, I simply stopped writing.
For example, I quit playing volleyball and went to graduate school for English. And, at the same time that I realized that English professors make no money and have no job security, I also got dumped by the guy I had been living with for five years. So this is what I did in graduate school: Nothing. I had already written two full novels, so I turned in a little bit of them each week. And I had to take literature courses, which I passed by reading New York Times book reviews (you'd be surprised how far back those go.) And then, after burning every bridge possible at Boston University, I left, one credit short of a graduate degree.
There were other times I fell apart. And stopped writing. For example, when I had a baby, I stayed home with it, every hour of every day, while I had an identity crisis. I still needed to support the family, but I couldn't write anything because I couldn't imagine giving career advice when I was having a total career meltdown. So I took columns from five years earlier and turned them in as new columns. And, after about three months of that, I got fired.
So I know it's not going to work for me to stop writing during my current crisis because it has not worked for me in the past. At this point in my career, I have a lot of achievements. I have played professional volleyball, I climbed the corporate ladder in Fortune 500 marketing, I was a journalist at the Boston Globe, and I've gotten three startups funded. There’s no way I'm going to go down in flames right now. I know that.
So this seems like a good time in my life to tell you what it's like to be lost at your job. Who else would do this? It would look like career suicide to anyone else.
I worry, actually, that it looks that way for me. For example, I think maybe I went overboard in my comment, in a discussion about whether I am managing my personal brand well. Dan Schawbel gave a great answer and I could have left well enough alone. But here's a rule about being lost: You make bad choices.
Last week, in addition to being lost at work, I was lost trying to cope with the farmer ending our engagement. So I flipped a grilled cheese with my bare hand instead of the hand holding the spatula: Insane pain. I drove myself to the emergency room, and they said I was actually at risk of going into shock behind the wheel. Okay. So it was bad enough that they gave me vicodin.
They gave me 20. Yes. Right here in Madison. You can get 20 vicodin for a grill cheese burn. If hospitals in NYC did this, there would be a run on grilled cheese ingredients all over the city.
I popped my vicodin. And I could not think. There was nothing. In only fifteen minutes, my head was a blank slate. The only thing I could see in my head was my hands literally trying to grasp for my problems. Where were they? Where were the things I was worrying about?
I hated the vicodin. I woke up the next morning excited to have my problems back.
This makes me think that maybe, somehow, I can enjoy being lost. To do that, I'm going to have to tell you my biggest problem: I have no idea what I'm doing at work and I am being a brat about it.
I think I have already made it clear that I'm difficult to work with. People cut me a lot of slack at the office. After all, I have this remarkable ability to know what works with social media even though clearly I am not able to use any tool the normal way. This must be valuable to a company. If they can put up with me in meetings.
Ryan Healy has told me not to write about him anymore. (This was his final straw.) So I'm just going to tell you that I have demonstrated for Ed, our new CEO, what Ryan does that makes me hate him, and Ed has said that I'm nuts. That he just doesn't see what the problem is.
And. Okay. Here's something disturbing: I have the exact same problem with my ex. The way he talks to me. And our nanny has heard him, and I ask the nanny, “Do you see how rude he is?” And the nanny says, “No, I don't. He sounded fine to me.”
If only the nanny and the CEO knew how closely aligned they are in my life.
So my problem is that I am not hearing people right. I am not a good listener. I try to be a good listener, but I do not hear things right.
So I have a tone of voice problem, (which is typical for someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, by the way). I've been complaining to Ryan about his tone of voice for two years, and he'd probably divorce me if he could, but, let's be honest, the company would not do well if we did that.
So it’s not just that I'm lost at work, but also I’ve been a brat.
I cannot solve the lost problem right now. I cannot quite figure out where I fit at my company. I mean, I gave day-to-day operations to Ryan and I gave CEOness to Ed. And where am I? Yes. I am very good at driving traffic to Brazen Careerist. Look. I'm doing it right now. It's a game: Click.
But I need to do more than that. I am figuring that out. And I’m sure that Ryan and Ed would have more patience for me if I am not a brat while I'm figuring it out. Which means I have to:
1. Be patient when people talk. No cutting them off. Here is the post about how hard that is for me. I don't know how I'll stop. I have to have a rule. No talking until there is quiet space. But honestly, I panic that that space will never come.
2. Try out doing new things even if I don't like them. Like, webinars. I'm doing a webinar tonight. I should promote that now. Okay. Here's a link. Do you know what I hate about webinars? I can't stay on topic, I only want to talk about sex, and I have to make my hair look good.
3. Be positive. I am always telling people what is wrong. People do not like that. I mean, they like it in a blog. Look. You've read this whole post. But people don't like it in real life. And Ed and Ryan told me they don't want to hear why things won't work. They want to hear the most promising idea; I need to talk like someone full of hope and promise.
So I am being positive right now: I am thinking that I can decide what to try. And I can decide to think that what I try will work. And if I try something and it doesn't work, I can try again.