Finding meaning in unpleasant jobs and situations

Have you ever been in a job or situation that was just unpleasant?

Maybe you were working with, or working for, someone that you didn’t like.

Maybe it was a boss that was imposing, micromanaging, etc. Maybe he couldn’t make a decision – or changed his mind a lot.

I look back to a position I got myself in….I was working for a guy who did have talents, yet he was not really a guy that you’d want to hang out with…..or work for….

It all started good. We both had plans and ideas. We came up with a strategy. But little by little I began to see him differently.

He didn’t make decisions – he always needed to think about it…but no amount of information or research on my part seemed to help him. When he did make a decision about something, he would soon change his mind. These changes not only wasted time, it wasted his own money, and soon began to erode morale.

He would walk around the office and huff a lot. He got upset by all sorts of things – little things. When we got a project he would get worried about it instead of getting excited by the possibilities. He often was short and rude with others.

At first I thought he was just a schmuck. Then I began to understand him. And I even began to feel for him. Most of his actions, or lack thereof, were based on fear. He was an older guy, he felt like he was unprepared for somethings, and he probably sometimes felt inferior.

He, like any of us, probably felt all sorts of emotions in business and life. But, unlike many of us, didn’t appear to have the tools or support network.

When you and I get scared, upset, anxious, we may vent or express some of it. But often we can deal with it. I believe he struggled with expressing his feelings. Without sounding disrespectful, he became a sad figure. I began to feel sorry for him. Once I disliked him and wished to be elsewhere. Then I began to notice his weaknesses and I saw that he didn’t have a choice to do much better.

Previously I had worked for him for a while and came to a point where I asked myself “Why am I here, what do I have to learn from this?”

Then I realized ‘why I was there and what I had to learn.’…..I was at home when I caught myself – caught myself huffing, getting impatient, getting negative. I don’t think that I was as bad as my boss was but I was still like him. And I don’t think that I was acting like that because of him. I think that I had acted like this for a long while. I knew that I got impatient and in some ways, this anger or grouchiness was my “thing”.

Victor Frankl wrote the wonderful book “A Man’s Search For Meaning”. We can find almost any kind of meaning in our lives about big or small things. The meaning we assign to something can inspire us or discourage us. The choice is mostly up to us, we assign the meaning.

So back to my job – I suddenly realized that I had meaning here – meaning to in some way help my boss handle things differently – or at least support him. I also realized that there was additional meaning – that I discovered more about me and that I needed – I wanted to change.

Suddenly a job that was sort of depressing, meaningless, and discouraging became better. I had skills, strategies and ideas that could help my boss. I had skills, strategies and ideas that could help me improve myself. I had the opportunity to see him, to see myself, and to realize that if I didn’t change, I might be like him someday.

Before, I wanted to get out of that job as fast as possible. I couldn’t wait and I was anxious about it. After I came to the above revelations, I no longer felt anxious about moving on. I still wanted to move on, and I knew I would in due time. But for that moment, I was there to learn, to improve myself, to improve my environment.  I was there to keep moving, not to wait for something better. I had patience.

I changed my focus and showed gratitude for a situation that I almost dreaded before. Things did improve. Things seemed easier. He was still huffy and impatient and indecisive but I tried to help. I think he noticed.
Guess what? It was the right thing to do. I think we both grew because of it. It was the loving thing to do. It wasn’t the easiest thing but I’m forever grateful for having that revelation. I have no regrets. I had faith, followed my heart, gave, and worked at doing what felt right.

Best wishes to you and your growth. Be aware of the meaning that you assign to events in your life.


Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

4 thoughts on “Finding meaning in unpleasant jobs and situations

  1. tashunadugger February 25, 2013 at 5:58 PM Reply

    Reblogged this on Tashuna Dugger.

  2. debramoolenaar April 11, 2013 at 8:15 AM Reply

    good insight – thanks – it’s often said that others act as a mirror for us and it’s pretty hard to look in that mirror and see others doing annoying things that we ourselves do! Yikes! Yet we wouldn’t have noticed – much less been annoyed by – their behaviour in the first place unless at some level it hit home. That’s the scary bit.

    • Jim April 11, 2013 at 1:02 PM Reply

      Yes. I had a boss that was lots of things I didn’t want to be, but I saw that I was to some extent. It was a good wake up call.
      Thanks for the comment.

  3. debramoolenaar April 11, 2013 at 8:15 AM Reply

    ps – thanks for visiting my blog too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: