Tag: self-identity

#44 “My Boss Doesn’t Like Me”

March 26th, 2021 by

Why is it the boss likes to laser in on your shortcomings and ignore your accomplishments? Your performance is above average, you’ve made a few silly mistakes in the past, and everyone has a major screw up. Despite the situation, project or your output, you tell yourself “my boss doesn’t like me.”

And it drives you mad because you don’t know how to fix it.

The Boss Function

Let us start by diving into some fundamentals of the boss role. This is not an all-inclusive list, but it serves as a useful reminder especially if you are a boss:

  • One, your boss exists to help equip you with the tools and resources necessary to perform your job. They guide you to help yourself resolve issues should you not have all those tools and resources. (By the way, many people do not have all required necessities to do their jobs, it is not just you).
  • Two, a boss acts as a compass to point you in the right direction. They are not there to solve your problems. Rather, bosses create a healthy, unobstructed environment for you to try, fail, innovate, and blossom through a consistent feedback loop.
  • Three, your boss must answer to their boss. If your boss wants to perform properly, it requires you to perform properly. Thus, your boss evaluates your performance to determine if you’ve met your goals. (Ideally, this process would look like an objective performance review).

As an aside, a performance review can be quite the emotional roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, I’ve heard and seen many people walk out of their reviews feeling defenseless, like they were ambushed. Nothing should ever be a surprise to the employee during their performance review. That is the power of a feedback loop: the employee is consistently made aware of expectations, strengths and ‘areas of improvement.’

Whether your boss performs the functions listed above, whether your boss is present or absent, is good or bad, etc. is not the point. The point is that a partnership exists between you and your boss. The two of you share a common goal: perform your best so the company can thrive.

“But, my boss doesn’t like me,” you exclaim. Now, where does that leave you?

It Helps to Know

1. By telling yourself “my boss doesn’t like me,” and by believing this statement at face value, you make the situation personal.

It is as if you are telling yourself, “the boss does not like my being, my presence or my humanness. I am not good enough because I am not liked. Since the boss doesn’t like me, perhaps I am unworthy of fair treatment. Maybe I should not be in this job and I should change myself. I want to be liked and accepted because I want to continue working here.” The self-narrative can spin out of control if you do not keep yourself grounded.

A critical detail here: anytime you believe “they don’t like me,” it implies a personal attack against your being and your existence.

Critical Point #1: Is your situation truly a personal attack, or is the boss attempting to criticize your output? These two scenarios are vastly different beasts. Let’s address the more severe of the two: My boss doesn’t like me for who I am.

2. Worst case scenario, your boss does make the situation personal, and they do not like you as a person.

It gets personal when management is critical of the things that make you uniquely you. Personal is when they use your personality or characteristics against you. For example, this might look like “you aren’t smart enough; you are too emotional; your spouse is annoying; the college you attended is insignificant, etc.”

If a boss makes the situation personal, they are faulty in two regards:

  • They fail to provide an environment that promotes self-reflection in the name of self-improvement
  • They are teaching you how miserable they feel about themselves

Critical Point #2: If someone doesn’t ‘like’ who you are, the translation is that they don’t like themselves when in your presence. On the contrary, people who appreciate and like themselves lift others up and facilitate self-improvement. They will not berate or criticize.

To Stay or Go?

Your employment isn’t about the boss being good or bad; it’s not about whether they like you. Your employment is about holding up your end of the bargain; it is not a personal relationship.

If you perform to the best of your abilities, learn from mistakes, and take initiative, there is nothing more a boss can ask of you. In fact, there is nothing more you can ask of yourself. While it is your responsibility to learn, grow and contribute to company goals, do not think you have to change yourself or your values … especially NOT for a boss.

If you believe “my boss doesn’t like me for who I am”, then it is possible they are taking their insecurities out on you. While this is their own internal problem to address, they unfortunately have some power to make employment more complex. Leaving this scenario for alternate employment can be tempting and sometimes justified. However, leaving the scenario may only serve as a temporary band aid offering short-term relief (which some people need in extreme cases!).

The reason leaving this scenario is not the best solution: you will always and forever deal with insecure people in your surroundings.

Leaving is the easy, temporary answer. Strengthening your mindset to deal with difficult, external situations is a much more sustainable, long-term solution (and applies to all areas of life). Ask me how!

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#41 “I Hate My Engineering Job”

February 12th, 2021 by

“I hate my engineering job.” The results of this Google search were staggering to me. And according to an ASME article, engineering is the second loneliest profession (behind law).

This article is not the end all be all answer, because the answer is overly complicated and cannot be resolved in one blog post. However, as a recovering engineer myself, I can offer information to help neutralize the pain.

In the Trenches

Of course, I know there are engineers who ‘hate’ their current role. For crying out loud, that is a large reason why I started my coaching business in the first place!

But, the agonizing responses after searching “I hate my engineering job” served as a painful reminder of my past life as an engineer working in the trenches:

  • I just started as an electrical engineer for a consulting firm just over a month ago. At first I was ecstatic, because I got a job and now all of that hard work over the last four years to get the degree will finally pay off. However I just realized the other day that I hate my job.
  • This is such a cookie cutter job.
  • I don’t like my first engineering job and I want advice.
  • I’ve been an electrical engineer for 33 years and just left the profession 2 months ago. Technically, it’s an “early retirement” but quite frankly I just needed to get out.
  • In particular, I’m in agreement with it changing from engineering > management, now to engineers being yanked all over the place due to management / politics and finance.
  • My love of the profession and my hope that I would one day become like my heroes were gone. I wasn’t solving problems or coming up with creative solutions for customers and colleagues. I was pushing paper and, as a lead, using the lash of my tongue on others to achieve the same exacting standards.

There is not adequate time or space here to delve further into the endless pit of career horror stories. But, “I hate my engineering job” is a very real syndrome among the STEM population. Allow me to sum up the most common reasons I could find:

  • Boredom
  • Politics
  • Finance/business hierarchy
  • Loneliness
  • No impact/no pride
  • No autonomy/creativity

What’s an Engineer to Do?

For starters, here are a few things you need to know that I wish I had known back in the day.

First – Did you realize you are not alone? Engineers tend to (there are always exceptions) allow emotional career frustrations to linger and fester inside, which results in two obvious drawbacks. One, the pressure keeps building over time until you find an outlet. That outlet could spontaneously combust and turn out to be a major regret in life.

Next, you portray the image that nothing is wrong. That you’re just going about your business… that life is swell. And do you know why that is not a good idea? Because other people around you (either physically or on the socials), might be feeling the exact same way. Then, they believe they are the only ones feeling down and out about their jobs because the other engineers they know are putting on a show. It becomes a vicious cycle where all parties suffer in lonely silence.

Second – Did you know that you don’t have to bottle up negative feelings and live a pretentious life? Let me guess … you never learned this in engineering school, did you. They don’t teach us that it is natural and human to experience a wide spectrum of emotions in our careers. We have not been told that it can be stressful and unhealthy to suppress one of our most basic instincts as humans: expression. In fact, I would argue, based on personal experiences, that the STEM world discourages human expression. You are to get the data … do your job … don’t cause trouble … rinse and repeat.

Third – Did anyone tell you that there could be a large disconnect between academics and professional reality? Both worlds can offer feelings of pressure and pride, and both worlds can offer opportunities for growth and challenge. However, the circumstances under which these features are offered can be vastly different. Some engineers do directly apply academics to their jobs – note, this is typically a given assumption for most young engineers. After all, why would you bust your rear end in college to earn a job doing anything else?

The Inevitable

The sad truth, folks, is that many engineers do not require application of an engineering curriculum to be a successful engineer. Thus, you are left feeling bored, regret, hopeless, or worse. It’s no wonder you agonize over, “I hate my engineering job.”  You should know, you must know, that there is often a disconnect between industry and academics.

Engineering school doesn’t teach you how to be an engineer; rather, it teaches you the skill of how to learn in the context of engineering.

Now what? Where does this leave you? For one, you can let me know about your frustrations and dead-end attempts at engineering happiness by sending me a note – let’s chat about it. For an additional thought-provoking insight into career despair, see Post #25, “How Long Will You Suffer from Career Despair?”

Do you feel misled? Are you getting more brain-dead as time goes by? Send me a note and let me know how you are affected by this industry-academic disconnect.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#35 Career Attachment: Do You Conflate Self and Job Identity?

November 20th, 2020 by

I spoke at a conference yesterday and struck a nerve. Attendees reached out to me with personal stories about career attachment, and how it caused havoc in their lives. They thanked me for the helpful information, and I gladly summarize here.

Career Attachment

We work super duper hard to earn one of the toughest degrees around. As engineering students and as young professionals, we create visions of a fantasy career living life happily ever after. It includes wonderful images of promotions, accolades, benefits, and money. We start our first professional job ready to hit the ground running.

Naturally, you’d like to see your career thrive. You want to nourish it and feed it and watch it grow. This desire promotes a dangerous kind of bond if you are not cognizant – an emotional attachment to your career. It is as if your career is a child, which requires emotional bonding to thrive.

However, your career is not a child. You have possibly fostered an emotional bond to your career, and this career attachment grows with time (see Post #09). The problem? Your emotional health in this scenario is dependent on your job outcomes. In other words, your emotional quality of life is dependent on an external circumstance – your career.

This career attachment you have created can grow into a monster, because as the job rides a professional roller coaster, so does your personal life. It can lead to self-defeating activities such as overworking, lack of boundaries, burnout, or worse.

Self-Description is not Job Description

First, recognize that the things you DO in life are different from WHO you are. Your TITLE at work is separate from your IDENTITY as a human. Humans are uniquely authentic and inherently worthy. This means, despite your past, your successes, and failures, you are still a 100% worthy, spiritual human being.

Your career, on the other hand, is a tool to be used for the sake of evolving your life. It is fluid and unpredictable, you never know how it will morph from one day to the next. One thing your career is NOT: an indication of your worthiness in this world.

Secondly, breaking the career attachment habit requires high self-worth and self-confidence. This includes respecting and valuing who you are, despite your flaws and failures. It requires knowing yourself inside and out. The magic happens in life when you can learn to love yourself unconditionally!

Last, I offer my favorite definition of self-confidence: the willingness to feel any emotion. When high self-confidence allows you to embrace uncomfortable feelings, such as setting boundaries or saying No at work, your emotional health will vastly improve.

The main takeaway is that career attachment leads to an unhealthy, destructive dependency on your job outcome. Instead of relying on external outcomes to feel good, look to the inside and rely on your mentality.

Internal self-validation sets the stage for the way you experience life.

Are you attached to your career? Let me know what that creates for your life!

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!