I walked out of my meeting with a huge grin. I had been worried about the meeting for weeks. I had practiced my sales pitch on my commute home and spent hours fine-tuning the presentation.
In the end, the meeting had been a major success. I won approval from a key senior leader in my company and we came out of the meeting with an agreed-upon roadmap for the future.
As I walked out of the conference room and through the building lobby, I considered raising my arms in victory. A victory lap of sorts. I thought better of it when I looked up to see a uniformed security guard at his desk and a fellow coworker waiting by the revolving door for his ride home. I didn’t raise my arms, I kept them close to my side, but I still must have had a funny look on my face, because they both looked at me strangely, like I had two heads or at the very least like I had spinach sticking out of my teeth.
I didn’t care. Let them stare. In my mind at least, I swear I could hear the famous University of Michigan fight song, “hail to the victors valiant! Hail to the conquering heroes!” ringing through the lobby. And I hate Michigan.
I spent another hour cleaning up my notes from the meeting and then ended up skating home without a worrisome thought in my mind. Congested traffic, gas guzzling cars all traveling at a snails-pace, no problem. Gas tank on “E,” crimping my plans to get right home, barely even a register on the annoyance meter. The list of must-do items on my list too long to count . . . forget about it. I was on Cloud Nine.
Coming down from the mountain
As I started to come down from my high later that evening, I got to thinking about the crazy things that we put ourselves through all in the name of work stress. I’m typically a failure when it comes to balancing the work-life scale. I’ve been known to fret about upcoming work meetings for weeks before they actually take place.
I’ve gotten better; I used to actually be worse. When I first started working, I remember having a meeting on the books with my boss. I was certain that my boss had put the meeting on the calendar to critique my work. I was the new guy and our team had experienced a challenging few weeks. To top it off, he was known for being a tough boss and I thought that depending on how the meeting went I might even be in trouble. Fired? I didn’t think so, but considering the company I worked for at the time, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.
I worried for weeks about the meeting. The day came. I braced myself for the worst. I prepared myself for whatever “dressing-down” would come my way. I walked into the meeting and I looked up to find my boss and our small team all seated around the small conference room. My first thought: “Wow, he really does play hardball if he’s going to let me go with everyone watching. This is the real thing.”
Of course, it was the exact opposite. He brought everyone together to praise the quality of my work and what I had brought to the team and to celebrate my six month anniversary with the company.
Small wins win the day
Since those early days, I’ve gotten much better about managing work and life challenges. I’ve come to handle work stresses better by celebrating the small wins, no matter how small; valuing my own strengths and the skills I can bring to a job; bringing a strong work ethic every day to the job; and keeping perspective in any situation.
So I didn’t raise my arms in celebration walking through the lobby, but I did do a little Victory Dance on the way to my car later that evening. And if someone ended up seeing me? Oh well, then I brought a smile to their face. I’ll take that.