Career Baggage, are you carrying around some?

 In Blind Spots, Leadership, Relationships, Stress

I recently calculated that I have held nearly 7,000 one-hour coaching sessions among my hundreds of clients over the years. This realization caused me to reflect on what all of those professionals have in common with each other, if anything.

Turns out, there are a few things that are true about nearly everyone I work with.

Today’s blog is about the people who have had a grievance or a bad relationship at work that lingers and haunts them. I call this career baggage and nearly all of us have some of it.

One of the many reasons I wrote the book, Outsmarting Crazytown, is to help people understand that they are not alone in the trauma and drama of the corporate playing field. Sometimes horrible things happen to us at work, resulting in us carrying a bit of Career Baggage resulting in unresolved grief moving forward.

Career Baggage Example

My Client, Rob, worked for a New York City advertising agency. Getting promoted there was like a competitive sport.

Rob is very busy with his full-time duties as an account manager, and he spent the better part of a year working on a special initiative that was the pet project of his boss at the agency. When Rob was finally ready to present his work to the entire company and the investors, Rob’s boss told him that he would be presenting Rob’s work instead of Rob.

Rob sat in the audience in utter shock as his boss took total and complete credit for his work. His boss made not one mention of Rob or even glanced in his direction. Rob is a stable and sane guy, but he was so appalled by his boss’s betrayal that he went back to his hotel room and had a full-blown panic attack for the first time in his life.

When Rob hired me to help decide if he would stay or go, that event was something we talked through and processed together in our first session.

If Rob didn’t deal with this career baggage he risked carrying that baggage with him into future interviews and his next job. 

Somehow, we tend to think that when horrible things happen at work (vs at home or in our romantic relationships), they must not be as bad, and that positive thinking should be applied so we can move on.

But what is really going on is unresolved grief. Yes! I am using the touchy-feely word “grief” in an article about navigating professional careers.

I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on that horrible board meeting that went south and derailed your promotion, or that maniacal boss you had a few jobs ago, and find a way to excavate and process that event or better yet, process it with a therapist or a coach.

Think of it like de-cluttering your house, only it will help you continue in your career free of the secret baggage that lurks within.

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