I apologize in advance if you leave this blog thinking I have neurosis. Perhaps I do! I was successful in several corporate environments, where I think they should require and test for neurosis to predict success.
At any rate, late last summer when we got the school calendar for my twin first-graders, I entered every event and milestone in iCal and created alarms. There is no calendar entry I more anxiously await than the quarterly “report card” entry. I set two alarms for that one. Their teacher also sends a reminder the week before. I tell the ladies, “Hey! Report cards are coming next week!” “T minus two for report cards!” The girls just hang their heads and sighhhh with such dread, not even closely matching my obvious “I just won the lottery” excitement.
Why such dread? These girls get really good grades, and our individual chats on how well they did, and plans for keeping up the good work, feel quite effective.
However, the greater question I had for myself is not why the girls dread getting their report cards. It’s why I’m so pre-occupied with them. I decided it was a question worth processing.
Well, it didn’t take much processing. It’s because THEIR report cards are MY report cards. It’s my performance review. Their little first grade reading, writing, math, science, computers, music, Spanish, social studies, gym, homework and other grades are my grades. I have replaced achieved goals in the workplace: completed projects, cultural turnarounds, restructurings, whatever, with… with…
Sigh. My seven-year-olds’ grades.
This is a real problem! My daughters are Future Neurotic Extraordinaires in training!
I left the workplace to spend more time with my children: volunteer in their school, get to know them better, be there for problems and have the mental energy to not only listen, but to guide. To not bicker with my husband about who emptied the dishwasher last, or who has to stay home with a sick kid. To not view replacing the butter in the butter dish as a monumental task.
I did not leave the workplace to make my children my new professional project, my “developing team members” key result area. But left unchecked, that is what’s happening. I guess you can take the professional out of the workplace, but you can’t take the professional out of the person.
I’ve also gotten to know better my long-lost friend, “Bottomless Pit of External Validation” with the vanishing of big projects, performance reviews, developing people, getting paid, all these intangible “markers” with which to judge myself and the value I’m contributing. There is reward to that, even when I didn’t receive the recognition I desired.
The next phase of this “leave the workplace” journey is to get out of creating neurotic mini-mes and put my energy into serving on boards and volunteering and setting some big goals. Tasky to-do lists aren’t cutting it.
But I have feeling that won’t be enough. I need that report card!
Or, maybe I should just “unfriend” Bottomless Pit of External Validation.