Does Your Job Define Who You Are?

Large scale org change… ah how it affords you the opportunity to see people’s true colors! I am always amazed that for so many people, their job and title literally defines who they are. What is happening around their job dictate how they feel about life (talk about giving your power away!). And they are willing to do anything to keep going up, even if by taking other people down. It is all about their ego, not the organizational goals and certainly not about their people.

Now, I have always been a go getter, high achiever, and willing to put the hours and roll up my sleeves to create, as a team, continuous improvement. That is how I derive my satisfaction at work. I still get emotional when I receive feedback from people I managed years ago and tell me no one cared and helped their careers more than me. With that, I have never allowed my job title or salary to dictate my worth or become my identity as a human being.

Increasingly, work feedback and behaviors (hello stealing my ideas with zero credit) from people that are supposed to be on my side has started to kill my spirit. I am treated like a child and told to just do what I am told. I don’t trust anyone. I feel like I went back about 15 years of my professional career, a total waste of my capabilities and skills.

The last drop for me came with the most recent feedback: be more “strategic” and play politics, do not help certain people (from my own team mind you) because that is the only way I was going to get promoted.

Huh. How mediocre and petty of us.

Having already been a very successful career athlete at a young age (among the best in the world as a junior athlete) I can tell you that being the top of any corporate ladder is not something I am searching for.  This is especially true if to do that I have to bring people down instead of try to lift us ALL up.

I am going focus on trying to transform the things in my control and clear the noise of all the backstabbing and non cooperative politics and other nonsense that simply go against who I am. I am better than that.

Lastly, I am adding one thing to my FIRE goal: my personal requirement from when I hand in my resignation is being able to look back and have people know I had THEIR back.

How about you, does your job define you?! How will this affect you when you retire?





6 thoughts on “Does Your Job Define Who You Are?”

  1. It’s interesting because when you meet someone, one of the first questions no matter the situation is “What do you do?”

    Work really does define is in many ways, but it doesn’t have to be the total definition by any means.


    1. That is exactly right about that question! I grew up in a different country where that was almost never one of the first things one asked but then again I was young then so maybe I just did not realize it :).

      When I was an athlete my sport was almost my entire identity and I had some good lessons learned from that. When I started working almost 20 years ago I made a promise to myself that how and what I do for a living would be important as part of me, but my title and job $ would not equal my worth, if that makes sense.

      Thank you for chiming in!


  2. Sad but not uncommon in many companies. I’ve experienced much the same in one of the positions I held. I was expected to advance my career (read as be promoted) or I would be let go. The latter occurred. I enjoyed the level of work that I was doing (managing a team) and helping them grow in their careers (those that wanted). Whenever the company did an employee survey regarding management, I always got high marks from my team. Unfortunately growing a team and helping that team be successful wasn’t what the corporate leadership was looking for. The fact that I was eventually let go only bothers me to the degree that I am not there to help my team. The bright side is that I am now doing what I like for another company with a different team of people. I can hold my head high knowing that I made a difference in the lives of many people and that I did not compromise my core beliefs and who I am.


    1. Urgh this totally kills me! At my job I try to bring my learning from my professional atheltic days where I learned from some of the best coaches on how to maximize talent. Then you enter the corporate world where they tell you people are our most important asset (mmm yeah absolutely they are, and cost for at least a company like mine) but then, in practice, it is just not managed accordingly.

      Waste of potential and mediocre thinking in this regard really gets me. I am glad to read however that you are in a better place now!

      Keep moving forward, and let’s keep collecting those lessons learned.

      Thank you for commenting!


  3. I’d run away from that sick organization as quickly as possible. Believe me that is not normal for how companies work. Most are efficient and productive and part of that is treating their team members with respect. There will always be some politics in any group activity and influencing others is a necessary skill to advance but intentionally derailing the careers of others is not a normal part of a normal corporation, at least not in my Fortune 500 experience.


    1. Thank you for your comment! I certainly have been super lucky that in previous companies it was not like this AT ALL. Here I just figured it was normal due to the type of industry (financial services) and the fact that I am moving up in my career. I already moved within my company to a completely new area, partly leaving the first one due to subtle but constant sexual harassment and shady behavior.

      Now I see this is just a bit of a toxic place with some pockets of great people. It is difficult because pay and benefits are great and I do love what I am doing but I don’t know if I can handle the soul drainage ;).

      I am coming up on a bit nice vacation – I will be doing lots of thinking about this for sure@


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