As a clinical social worker, my job years ago was to work closely with physicians and nurses to meet both the physical and psychological needs of patients. Then my career started changing. At one point in my rise as a leader, a physician friend asked me, 'are you really going to squander your clinical talent to take that position?' His words stung at the time and now they return to echo through my life again. I did set aside my clinical talent to fit the mold of business operations. At all points, I surrounded myself with people who could fulfill this function and disguise my disinterest in data analytics, tedious improvement processes and continual auditing and tracking of results. Pretending is hard work, and I begged the universe to bring about a change so I could feel alive again.
That change has come in an unexpected way, and letting go is never as easy as it seems. For the last week, my dreams have revealed this fact through stories that haunt me through the night. Like the story of finding myself on a business trip across the country before realizing I no longer have a job...wondering how to flee the situation before being seen. Or sitting down with the CEO so he can explain the company cannot offer a severance package and I need to simply walk away with nothing but gratitude for having worked there in the first place. In that dream, I eek out one big alligator tear in response.
But it's not just dreams that haunt me. Even reports from colleagues of having made a positive and lasting difference sting unexpectedly when they are meant only to soothe. Perhaps that's because there was so little joy in my work during the final years when joy and meaning in my work has always been a priority. What ended up happening - advancing through the organization and placing my worth on those achievements - robbed me of what I want and need most in life; to make a difference in the world through the authentic passion of my heart. It's still my dream.
image from google.com