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Working without losing your mind

It's not often that I open a book and start nodding my head vigourously in agreement from the very first page.

But Cate Sevilla* had me at:

'Personally, I have spent an unimaginable amount of my work life with a pounding heart, sweaty palms, churning guts and an anxious rage cursing through my veins. I've endured many meetings with my hands hidden under a table, my mouth and face trying their best to appear pleasant while I dig my fingernails into my palms and the voice inside my head screams: 'OH MY GOD, F**K OFF!'

How many of you have felt like this?

How many of you feel like this right now?

(Don't tell me it's just me. Is it?)

Being part of a good team, delivering great projects, doing fantastic work. Getting on with each other and with people outside of your team. It's great when it works like that.

And then there's the times when people drive you mad. When you have arguments, or everyone is harbouring secret resentment. When you feel powerless, not in control. When things or people don't live up to your expectations. When there's bullying, power games, manipulation, back-stabbing, jockeying for position.

You see, you can have your absolute dream job. On paper. Doing stuff that you're great at. Being bought into the ethos and the purpose of the organisation you're working for.

Until you get to work with the people.

Until you get confronted with yourself.

One of the most important pieces of feedback I ever received was from a manager I worked for.

She said that - once I relaxed - I was getting better results.

he was right. I was.


Two reasons:

1. Choose happiness I had reminded myself of something that I had committed myself to years before. I had committed to happiness. To being happy. To choose my happiness above other things.

Except I had forgotten. And was falling into old behaviour. Getting frustrated, getting angry.

2. Expectations Oh, if everyone just lived up to your standards! There would be singing and dancing and people happily skipping hand in hand into the sunset! The world would be a lovely place.

Except they don't.

Expectations minus reality makes for disappointment. I'd forgotten THAT as well.

Sometimes you just need a reminder. That you can't control other people. All you can do is manage your own emotions, and find strategies to interact with and influence others. And to take stock, re-group and try again, if what you expected to happen didn't happen.

3. (OK, so it's three). It's only shampoo.


it was one of my senior managers who used to say this (she worked for the Body Shop).

What she meant to say was, 9 times out of 10 you're not actually saving lives (OK, and if you are, then please don't take this the wrong way. Please keep on worrying and saving lives. But do find ways to relax afterwards).

If you make a mistake, things don't go the way you want them to or expected them to (expectations again, see?), in the end it IS only shampoo. It is not important enough to stress over. Tomorrow is another day.

I believe that a great big percentage of your (career) happiness is determined by your interactions with people. Yes, by the culture, the organisation, the way people act and all the rest of it.

But also by how YOU are. YOUR expectations. YOUR boundaries. How YOU react to certain situations. How YOU communicate. How YOU intend to be.

It's a two way street, this work thing. Finding the work, the organisation, the ethos, the people you love.

But also, knowing yourself, knowing what you stand for, how you're triggered, what is important and what is not.

That's what I learned.

How do you cope? How do YOU work without losing YOUR mind?

* Cate Sevilla - How to work without losing your mind


Tineke Tammes is an ICF accredited Career Coach, who supports creative, multi-passionate, professional women in making successful career transitions! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.

Join her now in Pick 'n Mix - the FREE community for creative, multi-passionate women or sign up for her newsletter.

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