Who Are You Listening To?

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I saw this in a post the other day and felt strongly about how well it represented my life. There is so much meaning in this simple graphic.

I am a critical thinker. I think critically about pretty much everything. And then I overthink it. And overthink it some more. It is a vicious cycle for me that I repeat over and over again for just about any topic, situation, or relationship.

I’ve always seen the quotes about “listen to your heart” but have never been able to do it. My heart didn’t analyze well enough. My heart didn’t ruminate over every possible scenario and every possible outcome. My heart is all about the feels and that just isn’t what a strong person listens to. There was no way in hell I was going to listen to my heart when my brain is what has kept me safe all these years.

Except, it really hasn’t. That safe feeling I have been thinking that I feel, that isn’t truly safety. That’s control. Control does not equal safety.

My brain would have me believe that any situation where I don’t already know everything needed, is a situation that I need to leave. Take for instance my new job. I work with a startup and my position, my actions directly correlate to the amount of revenue that we bring in each quarter. I mean, in much larger companies, it’s been the same way, but now this is a small company and if revenue isn’t met, then it directly relates to what I have or have not accomplished.

I do not like the financial side of being a project manager. I never have and never will. I have somehow been really good at having limited responsibility for project financials and I’ve been absolutely okay with that. Until now. Now I am directly responsible for meeting revenue goals.

When I realized this during my third or fourth week in, I had a panic attack. How the fuck am I going to make this happen? I don’t want to manage budgets. I don’t know how to make revenue numbers. Why me? Isn’t there somebody else? What if I don’t meet the goal the first quarter that I’m here? Will I be fired? I really like this company and don’t want to look for another job. Panic, panic, panic. I held it in well in front of my boss.

Just as fast as the realization came, so did the realization that I am not alone in this. I am not the only person who is responsible for this number. Yes, it might seem that way, but it isn’t. My boss, the SVP of Operations, and other management and/or executives are right there with me. We are all working together. I might feel like it is all riding on my shoulders and that can be crippling, but it isn’t true.

You see, my brain focused on one critical detail. It didn’t want to see all the other details in the situation. My brain was stuck in a panic state and didn’t want to listen to my heart. My heart knew and still knows that I am not alone in this. In fact, my heart has all the touchy feelies. My boss believes in me more than I think I’ve ever known a previous boss has. He frequently compliments my work and it has only been a few weeks. I ask for constructive feedback and he gives it, but not in a manner to tell me that I suck.

If I were to only listen to my brain, I might be finding another job. I would be stuck believing that I wasn’t good enough and that I will crash and burn. If I were to listen to my brain, I would take the pile of emails that I haven’t been able to read yet or even address and believe that I’m already a failure. If I were to listen to my brain, I would think that I have failed and should be fired.

But instead, I need to and desire to listen to my heart. I have learned in my heart of hearts and somewhere in my subconscious, that none of this means that I’m a failure. It means that I’m in a challenging position that I can grow in. I am not being held back and I am not going to be fired. I have been given an opportunity to shine and grow. My heart knows it and my heart has a lot of work to keep my brain in check.

I traditionally have listened to my brain and have horribly silenced my heart. I’ve only recently started allowing my heart to have a bigger voice. I’m not perfect at it, but I don’t want to be. I want to continue growing, continue being challenged, and show myself that I can do hard things.

Today, today I am listening to my heart. Each day I am checking in with my heart every time my brain makes a decision or assumption. My heart’s voice is getting bigger and stronger. We are growing together.

I Am Not Mediocre

Mediocrity is how so many of us live our lives. Mediocrity is how we fit in with society. We don’t want to be too over the top so people don’t judge us. We don’t want to fall behind because that life is hard. We want to be right in the middle because the middle is what is comfortable. Mediocrity is safe.

Fuck mediocrity.

I have lived for mediocrity all of my life. I grew up being below mediocrity most of my life. I just wanted to be normal. I equated being normal as fitting into society. Normal was just enough for my life. Normal was just mediocre, nothing special. I didn’t want to stand out for any reason.

I had this realization recently as I was interviewing for jobs. I had just been laid off and I had multiple positions that I was interviewing for and multiple I was expecting offers from. I had two that I was really considering and was comparing against each other. One with a small startup that had a lot of unknowns and wasn’t established. My position would have been a new position that I would create. Another new position with what I believe is potential. This sounds just like the job that I got laid off from. The other position was with a well-established company that already has a project management team with processes in place. This would be a position that is being backfilled. This company has never done layoffs. This would be a safe position to get into.

I didn’t want safe. While the safe position would have allowed me to have a normal schedule and work with one of my close friends again, the startup has so much potential and a mission that I connected with right away.

To me, safe equaled mediocre. Mediocre meant it could take me longer to advance. Mediocre meant I wasn’t creating something to pass on. Safety was not something that called to me.

I didn’t choose the safe job. I chose to right above mediocrity and take a chance. I wanted a challenge and if that challenge means that I’m looking for a job again in three months, six months, or whatever because the startup failed, that’s perfectly fine with me. I have survived multiple layoffs and I know I can survive them in the future.

Mediocrity isn’t for me. I want to live outside of normal. I am not normal and my career isn’t either. Bring on the challenge and bring on the fun I’m about to have.