This short story is written for Day 2 of The Write Tribe Festival of Words June 2018.
“If you work for someone who wont let you bring yourself to work, can you afford to spend another year dimming your flame?”— shot Preeti, at me the other day. She has a way of saying things in your face and being brutally honest about it. I had no choice but to agree to it. After all, it was the truth.
“Yes, it has been hard enough being stuck at the same place for years and now, with no incentives at work all I get is a paycheck, but honestly, I think I deserve much more than that.”
At work, a lot had started changing since the new CEO had joined, and many of the managers were showing signs of being afraid to let their employees bring their full, creative selves to work. They did their best to stamp out any hint of individuality from us. We were told in no uncertain terms how we’d have to get our work done exactly the same way everybody else does it. In fact, no scope for any change at all.
“Managing through fear is poor leadership, but that’s exactly what is happening at work”, I said to my friend. “Nobody seems to take note of the fact that employees are cynical and exhausted, when every survey says this is the case”.
“I wonder why they cannot see that fear-based leadership in corporations cannot thrive. Not only do you deserve smart and enthusiastic teammates but you also deserve to work for a leader who understands that you have a vision for your own life, too.”
It was true. There was a lot of lip-service given to culture and trust at work, not to mention those manufactured “fake” fun team building exercises that were conducted every few months. Yes, empowerment was just a fallacy and employee morale had fallen at an abysmal low.
“You’re right, you know. It is not that difficult to make work fun, is it? Give the person who performs the job more latitude over the work. I’d be happy to put my own stamp to the job I do, maybe even get involved in designing and implementing things.”
We got chatting so animatedly that it almost slipped our minds that we had to head back to work. As we stepped out of the cafe, Preeti gave me a gentle nudge and left me with a little food for thought— “You know what, I think you need to get some fun back into work again. Start looking elsewhere.”
I will not lie when I say that her words nudged me to think hard. Even within a short span of 20 minutes, she had assessed my situation with remarkable accuracy. In all these months of procrastination, I had never tried to work out how I could change the course of things even though I had been feeling increasingly uncomfortable and stressed out at work. It was now clear that I had my priorities in the wrong place and the sooner I got my act together the better it would be. I’d have to stop running away from my problems.
And thus, with this new-found resolve to sort things out, I walked up to the metro station, deeply introspecting about life and pondering on the many things that I felt were amiss. Parenting was tough but holding down a full-time job whilst balancing everything else, even more so.
The station was teeming with people, so I waited by a corner and pulled out my phone. As I began to scroll through my messages, I found a message from Preeti that said—
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and—snap!—the job’s a game!”
Was this the validation I was seeking? Maybe, who knows. Maybe, she had sensed it earlier. I realised how burnt-out and tired I was, trying to juggle it all. I never saw it in that light. Yes, I needed a job that I was actually going to look forward to! But hang on, was it going to be that easy? Well, maybe not. But, perhaps I could try. She had got me thinking already and I think, she was right.
To be honest, I’d never felt more purposeful in life in a long time as I had felt that evening, as I walked back home, ready to close a few doors behind me forever.
With clarity comes a conviction and I was convinced, nothing in my life would change if I stayed in the same place forever.
©Esha Mookerjee Dutta. June 2018
Linking this post with The Write Tribe Festival of Words June 2018.
Prompt: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and—snap!—the job’s a game!” – Mary Poppins
Attagirl! Closing doors and moving out from a place of complacence takes courage and conviction. Glad that she took the way ahead. Work can be enjoyed only when you feel your contribution to it, else it is just donkey-work.
You’re right! Unless we do something positive about our situation, nothing changes. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.
It cannot be fun if in doing a particular job, we can’t see ourselves as individuals having own ideas. It will undoubtedly be stifling. On a closer note, aren’t we all like the main character feeling strangulated and consumed in our wrongs unless someone or something shows us a sign to move on? Perhaps moving on is the only thing which can keep the fun alive in work and in life.
Something,s gotta give you better in life.some tips work better for me or some are not. But all is good for some one. Thanks for your great opportunities.
Ah! This was the scenario in my earlier workplace, where the manager wanted everything to be done his way. It was suffocating. And if you dont get that creative freedom and someone is breathing down your neck all the time, you really dont look forward to going to work. Moving out was the only option for me and I took that and life was much better. A thoughtful take on the prompt, Esha!
I seriously think all life sucks – there are good days and bad days. And work is just work. Either you enjoy it or you don’t .
Esha, there is so much truth in your post. I’m not sure but I feel the American corporate culture has every element to kill the morale. Employees are just numbers – in terms of performance. Bosses feel that they are the role models for the team which they are leading and it is they who have responsibility to set things in motion by being strict. I wonder if at all empathy, love and brotherhood has any room in today’s corporate culture. I see so many young people leaving a well paid job because it has ceased to be a motivation in their life. A job which millions aspire….they don’t have any hesitation to let it go. I had read an article on huffington post which mentioned that there is something wrong in this world when so many youth want to leave jobs. Surely, It’s a million dollar question that where will such a situation lead us? More stress or uninspiring life? I think we all are battling the same issues in one way or another.
Lovely take on the prompt. Could not agree more on what suzy said in the previous comment. You have portrayed the difficulties very honestly..
Either you find the fun in what you do or find work that is fun to do. Sometimes we hit a bad patch and best to get out when that happens.