Can I Validate That for You?

Much of life, as we all know, is a plug and chug.  We go through the days/weeks/months doing what we need to do without much thought to the long term or really any reflection about the past unless we are made to.  There are a few moments in those days/weeks/months that a crossroads appear.  A moment when you have to make a decision about what your voice will be, what path you want things to take, and a plan for what you want and hope the future will look like.  Sometimes they present themselves as a choice between what is easy and what is hard.  Or a choice to stay in your lane or try to force something by moving to another lane (I am a master at thinking I am better than I really am.  "Oh I can totally make that work out").  It takes a great leap of faith in your abilities (and patience) to stay in your lane; great faith that the path you are on is the right one, even when it is tedious or bleak or frustrating.

The past couple of months we have been given the gift of validation about our careers in our house.  Steven's work as an artist is simply amazing (I understand I am biased here, but he really is amazing). We have hosted many artists in shows locally and watched as others (deserving or not) received more accolades. But he has stayed on his path, doing what was right for the facility and university he works for oftentimes when his own work and time in the studio was sacrificed. This week he was invited to do the Dinnerworks show here in Louisville, which is an AMAZING honor. It was so fantastic to get the nod from those that matter in the clay world.

Shortly after I blogged Finding our Voice, I was asked by the powers that be to be a part of an amazing new facility design (coincidence?  Maybe.  Divine intervention?  I would like to think so).  At the meeting, I was given kudos about my work, which was shocking (as this head honcho doesn't really know me), and a great surprise (as my boss has obviously been talking good things about me when I feel like I just annoy him with my demands most of the time).  It was SO COMPLETELY VALIDATING that my employers also think that I am on the right path.  I loved that this validation came hot on the heels of putting my frustrations out there to the the blogosphere and universe at large and speaking my own truth.   I usually don't need verbal praise ("Of course I'm doing a good job.  I have better ideas than everyone else"), but this was more like personal validation that I am taken quite seriously as an expert in my field and that was monumental to me. 

I have really tried to examine why I do the job I do and, more importantly, why I stay.  It is a hard job emotionally.  It is difficult to know that this particular building will be eternally in flux.  There will never be a time of "we have arrived".  There will never be a staff that stays for more than a year or two.  I have decided that is OK.  I know that I don't stay because my boss likes me (that boss has changed several times over the years), or the kids are going to miraculously have great homes and a fair chance because of our work (not ever), or that even the District will finally say "Enough is enough" and do the right thing by this school (that would require a serious discussion about poverty.  Not holding my breath).  I stay because the work is important to ME.  It is about what I can offer and give to "the cause", whatever that is.  It is about the journey and how I personally can change and adapt and grow because the system will not ever change.  Not.  Ever.  The validation at this particular time, however, is pretty great.  Harvard Business Blog lists managements' failure to "Express Appreciation" as one of the top seven reasons people leave their jobs.  It is important, whether we want to acknowledge that or not.

I want you to know that your work DOES matter.  It IS important.  If you are sitting in the middle of who you are, asking the hard questions about what you are called to do, staying in your lane, watching others get the pat on the back while you feel like you are invisible, STAY TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE AND BELIEVE IN THE WORK THAT YOU DO.  At some point the nod will come, the promotion, the invitation, etc.  Or the change that is necessary will come.  Either way you will know.  In the meantime, I think you are pretty fantastic and I am really glad you are on my team.


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  1. Love this, Jenn, and I read it just the right time. Thank you!