Beyond expectations: when your career is more than you ever could hope for

22 Oct

How to Get Motivated and Love Your Job AgainA few weeks ago I posted a blog about being lucky.  I believed it then and I believe it now.  Tonight something special happened; something that is honestly larger than words.  Its weight is enormous, yet the feeling it leaves behind is lighter than air.  A joy, a blessing; a revelation of honesty, feeling and emotion that left me with warm goose bumps and eyes filled with tears.  And do you know what the best of it is?  It cost nothing, it came easily, and it made me feel amazing.  Sometimes good things in life do come for free.

After the 3rd day at an international diabetes conference, my drive to sell something to each passerby in the exhibition hall had waned and I was becoming a bit silly.  It always happens this way; days of standing in a 10 x 10 booth, smiling at hundreds of scientists walking by, offering a similar message to those interested and escaping only for a quick bite and the occasional bathroom break.  At 5 pm today I was nearly exhausted, but with one colleague leaving tomorrow I knew I must prepare myself for a long dinner and a walk through the Chinese Lantern Exhibit at the Montreal Parc Olympique.  With only 30 minutes to spare in my hotel room, I skyped my office to make sure everything was in order, customers were satisfied, etc. etc… I felt somewhat like a teenager in a brat pack film; I turned the skype camera to the ceiling while I jumped up and down to get into my freshly washed and dried blue jeans.  Multi-tasking was a necessity!  After a quick exchange with the office, I made it to the lobby and out into the brisk evening air on an autumn day in Montreal.

We found ourselves at the chic bistro on Rue Peel known as Bistro L’ Aromate.  The music was modern, much like what you wouldaromate find in a typical Manhattan bar in the states.  The decor was white tablecloth minus the stuffy atmosphere and extremely formal waiters.  We were greeted with the message “we are booked solid tonight, but we can accommodate you if you can leave no later than 7:30”.  This fit us perfectly, especially since it was our goal to see the lanterns before 9 pm.  We found our way to an upstairs table for 4, settled in and began to pour over the delectable French menu.  We chose a range of delightful creations: escargot, lamb, tuna tartare, flank steak… it was food fit for a king.  A delicious Bordeaux found its way into my wine glass, and light-hearted conversation ensued.  I quickly forgot about my stressful days at the convention, focusing solely on the company and the food.  The conversation, albeit it continually funny and engaging, soon took a wonderful and unexpected direction…

Do you remember those days at the Thanksgiving dinner table?  Those days when your mother insisted upon saying at least one thing you were thankful for?  Well, that is a good analogy to describe what happened next.  As with any other working dinner, conversation always finds its way to partnerships we have created, those we will create and those we hope to create.  If my mind doesn’t fail me, we began to discuss how optimistic we were about the company and the connections we recently embraced and where those would lead us.  But suddenly, and magically, it shifted to our own personal opinions of each other and how we shaped each other’s lives…

It is difficult for me to attach simple words to the wave of emotion we all seemed to experience.  I expressed how my colleague, someone whom I had met just over 4 years ago, was one of only 2 people in my life that were completely giving of themselves and harbored no selfishness whatsoever.  She is and always will be someone I can trust to carry out any task assigned to the best of her ability with more patience than I could ever find within myself.  In turn, she expressed how lucky she was to work for someone who always supported everyone’s ideas, taking each individual’s opinion into consideration instead of making decisions as it were her own.  It is sometimes difficult to find a female who isn’t always competing with others to gain her prominent spot in the limelight.  After this short exchange, I could feel something happening: opportunity.  It was an opportunity to share our innermost thoughts and feelings in a way that we hadn’t done before.  I encouraged this to go on, even amongst the occasional waiter’s intrusion to ask if we would like dessert.

As you know, it is difficult for the male sex to express himself at times.  Much to my surprise, the only male in the group chimed in with his thoughts in the most melodic of ways.  He began to tell his colleague, for which he often has a difference of opinion when it comes to the corporate climate, that she was indeed beautiful.  It wasn’t spoken from a sexist point of view; it came from the heart.  She was truly beautiful.  He then began to explain that she was an integral part of the company; her experience and strengths as a professional career woman were necessary alongside his in carrying out our future plan and vision.  I could see her warm up immediately: her eyes a window to her soul.  Silence found us briefly… we were savoring the moment as one savors a fine wine.  These were not just words; they were real feelings coming from an honest and true place.   Everyone was feeling so enlightened; so proud of the place we were at that very moment.

There was something more to be said, and I knew I must say it…

At this point, the salty moisture building in my eyes, I began to tell both of my Swedish colleagues a special story.  For some time now I have felt guilty for the close relationship I held with the two of them.  I have shared personal information with two superiors in my company, which some of my friends have pointed out wasn’t the American way of doing business.  I carried a great deal of guilt regarding the personal things I had shared with them for many months now.  Should I tell people that I report to who my closest friends are?  What I do on the weekends?  And whom I do it with?  Who might I fall in love with?  And whom I might dislike?  I do realize this isn’t something that most Americans do, or at least if they do it often ends with distrust or even worse termination.  Yet suddenly, at this moment, it was as if a dark cloud had lifted and my anxiety had diminished.  I realized that I wasn’t wrong.  What is normal?  Who is right?  That question isn’t for me or anyone else to answer.  Two of the people I love most in the world, that I share my innermost secrets, just happen to be my colleagues and the people I report to on a daily basis.  It may be unusual, maybe downright odd to some of you.  And it definitely isn’t American…

I explained this feeling… getting it off my chest felt so amazing.  With affectionate glances I could see that they embraced every word. Their nods of approval said everything!  The conversation continued over chocolate macaroons, gelato and espressos.  Each person was laughing and smiling: nothing negative entering their minds for this fraction of time.  As a society, as human beings, it is in our nature to become overwhelmed by the negative, the difficult and the challenging.  However, when a moment presents itself where total peace and solitude can find you, it must be like heaven.  At least what I imagine heaven to be like.

wizard-of-ozAs I said before, we planned to end our evening with the Chinese Lantern Exhibit.  And that we did.  Even with a light rain upon us as we walked through a maze of beautiful ornate lanterns, dragons and Chinese culture, our spirits were high.  As the four of us laughed and strolled along the rain soaked streets, I couldn’t help but think of a famous team that made their way to see the wonderful wizard of oz. For courage, for a heart, for a brain and for a trip home to Kansas.  This foursome, my colleagues and I, already had everything we needed to succeed…  personally and professionally.


One Response to “Beyond expectations: when your career is more than you ever could hope for”

  1. Marty October 23, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    Carissa you have this innate ability to share your soul when you write, and that is a rare and unique gift. The openness and honesty in your blog is truly refreshing! I am privileged to call you a friend. 🙂

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