There’s been a hawk around our house for the last couple of days making an incredible amount of noise. The screeching sounds echo like a soul in pain although I know that is just me applying my own filter to it. According to the bird books, the screeching is most likely a fledgling hawk who is looking to be fed but is supposed to be on his or her own. The fact that he or she has made it this far is a testament to the abundance of food sources in the area. But having to hunt is certainly much harder than waiting to be fed. At some point, the young hawk will figure out that he needs to fend for himself and with either succeed or fail.
Nature can be cruel at times. It is like the family of raccoons that lives near our house that feeds on the spilled seed from the bird feeders and from what we throw to them. Yes, we are suckers for cute little faces of the babies so we do toss down some seed to them. Eventually, the babies grow to an age where some must be sent off to find new territory so there will be fights and squabbles and eventually some will be driven off where they might find success or they might end up as road kill. The fact that they were litter mates will have no bearing on the outcome. The strongest will likely prevail.
I know that this is necessary – survival of the fittest and all. I know that many baby animals never live to maturity which is why they will have large litters in the hopes that some will survive to keep the species going. We can’t save all of them. It doesn’t make it any easier and, in theory, they don’t know any better. The raccoons won’t feel the betrayal of their litter mates turning on them and driving them away. The young hawk will not feel the rejection of parents who no longer seem to care. It is nature.
And yet, there are strange parallels that pop up when you work for a company or part of a company that is going through tough times and is on the verge of downsizing. (Or even at the beginnings of a death spiral which can last for years or be over quicker than you know)
People you’ve worked with for years. People who you laugh and joke with. People who you’ve gone to lunch and dinner with. People who you might consider “friends”. Now, they are just competition. There are only so many slots available and it is like musical chairs, you don’t want to be the one left standing when the music stops.
It is an ugly atmosphere. Lots and lots of closed door meetings and telephone calls. Directors of various departments leaving meetings and carrying on conversations so you catch bits of dialog like “global infrastructure” and so on. Strange and repetitive requests for things like how many people work for you and what skills they possess.
Like nature, it is survival of the fittest but the definition of fittest is more like who is the best connected. Who has the strongest network of advocates pushing their abilities to the decision makers. Who is willing to fight and scrap and even back stab others just to keep their place even if it is just for a few more years. I suppose it is easy to justify. The known paycheck is certainly better than the unknown and, at the end of the day, your coworkers aren’t family.
And this is where being an INFP in the corporate world is a large and decided disadvantage. We don’t like competition. We’d much prefer that everyone just get along. Self-promotion and networking are not our strengths. We may have done great things but we don’t climb to the top of the mountain to trumpet our successes. We just move on to the next things. Buzzwords are like small talk – they don’t mean too much. Adopting the latest business fad or tool only makes sense when it is actually helpful. So we don’t speak the language. Being an INFP boss is especially difficult in these times because I feel the extra guilt about have I done enough to position my team for success. Could I have done more. Should I be doing more.
I actually let some of this out to someone on my team perhaps to pre-apologize for not being the right kind of boss in this environment. Her response was that if people wanted that kind of boss, they would have sought them out. She also hit me with a quote which I can’t remember but it was real similar to one I’ve thought about a lot. Well, this is not the exact quote but put into slightly different words:
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul?”
And, while being an INFP is a disadvantage, this quote speaks to me. At heart, we live by our own internal code of right and wrong. And doing anything to hurt someone else just to save your own position is wrong. Better to walk out being true to who you are than to stab someone else. Is a job really worth that? Is a lifestyle really worth that? I know there are those who have a great deal of fear and anxiety about losing a job and I can understand that but if you allow that fear to cause you to do something to hurt someone else, then I think the consequences of that would be far worse. Maybe they won’t be as obvious but I believe that things you do come back to you in some way or another.
The next month or so is likely to continue to be a stressful time at work. A lot of stuff hit me on Friday and I suspect I’ll have more days like to come. The corporate world here is dominated by the SJ planners who will be in full force mapping out the future and making the “tough” decisions to get us there. Us introverted feelers with a lot of empathy will pay the price regardless of whether we stay or go. Just dealing with all the fear and negativity will be tough enough.
I know this will make my dancing harder which might seem counter intuitive since dance can be an escape from my day job. The problem is that emotions will sometimes carry over. I can walk out of work at the end of the day but it can be hard to leave it all behind and it can easily bleed over into my dancing. It can be harder to put up with the demands of dancing when your emotions are already on edge. (On the bright side, it might lead to some interesting posts).
To be honest, I have no idea what the short term future holds for me. There is a part of that which is scary. But there is another part of me that says if my number is up, then I’ll go out staying true to myself. Sometimes, even bad things happen for a reason. I can control the decisions being made at the highest levels in this company. I can only control how I choose to deal with them. I can choose not to let the fear that I’m feeling get the best of me. I can continue to try to bring people up as much as possible. I may not always be successful but I see it as my mission to try.