For three years, I worked to keep my well-paying job as a writer at a small PR firm in downtown Manhattan. And then, for the next three years, I worked to release it.
I remember the desperation with which I pined for this job to come through. I remember taking the call for my phone interview in the paint store in the ground floor of the office building where I worked at the time. I remember negotiating the $10K per year salary increase I’d get once they cleared all the red tape with management to bring me on.
I was ecstatic to be leaving the job at the PR firm above the paint store. Thrilled to give my notice. And though I’d be writing pitches for consumer products and pharmaceuticals day in and day out, I didn’t care. I was to be officially titled “writer.”
Over the course of the next three years, I got my job down to a science. I could write a pitch in 15 minutes. I could strategize and come up with an editorial angle for an otherwise unpalatable message on the spot. Clients loved me. And our salespeople loved me more. I could turn a dead-in-the-water project into something viable.
But then, my passion for it went cold.
I didn’t mind the work. I was good at it. It was easy for me but still challenging enough to make it interesting. It was the culture. I suffered daily “it’s not fair” attacks. I was easily wounded by the curt notes that flew back and forth as part of the firm’s defacto email-only communication policy. And the final crack in the desk that broke the writer’s pencil, so to speak, was when my boss worked from home for the better part of two years suffering debilitating morning sickness as part of back-to-back pregnancies, surfacing only to yell at me for grave infractions like how a headline was formatted while I shouldered the department’s responsibilities.
As my resentment grew, so did that familiar desperation: “I need to get out of here.”
This was the thing though: I knew I didn’t want to go out and find another job at a similar firm performing an identical function.
I knew I wanted to do something different. I knew I wanted to be of service to the world and not just writing copy to help big companies get more attention so they could get bigger.
I just didn’t know where to go from here.
So I stayed.
But I knew that if I was going to stick around I couldn’t do it with the same sour attitude I’d developed by way of my anger and resentment.
Out of sheer need, I developed the following internal practice to help me shift my mindset. I knew the worst possible thing was to be swallowed by the culture of negativity and disrespect. This practice would safeguard me against this possibility.
Here’s what I did:
Accept: I had to accept that the culture of this place was what it was. I wasn’t going to change it; just like I wasn’t going to change the demeanor or circumstances of the people working therein. Acceptance had to be the name of my game whenever the “it’s not fair” monster rattled my keyboard or frustration welled up with the people who I thought weren’t treating me with adequate appreciation. Sometimes I had to strong-arm this acceptance. I had to lean down, get face to face with it, as you would do to reason with a small child, and say “Nope, we’re not doing that anymore. We’re practicing acceptance.”
Forgive: I had to forgive the people I worked with. I had to remember that:
And while that capacity might be pretty bad, it’s their best. That deserves forgiveness. And compassion. I also had to forgive myself. Whenever I whined inside or got angry or resentful at myself or others, I had to let it go. Forgive myself. And promise myself I am doing my best.
Serve: I had to adopt an air of service. To me that didn’t mean working for free. It meant fulfilling a role at the firm that wasn’t being filled by anyone else. I had to be the light. I was simply not going to give in to the debilitating low morale that permeated the workplace. Being the light was as simple as doing things like starting every email with a “Hi, So-and-so” and closing with a “Thanks!” It was as simple as walking over to someone’s office to ask a question instead of firing off an email. It was as simple as stopping by someone’s cube just to say hello.
Finally, after I’d gotten this approach down to as near a science as my actual job ever was, my job released me. On January 13, 2012, I was let go. And the company continued to hemorrhage staff until it shut down various parts of its business over the course of the two years that followed.
Now I not only use my pitch powers for good, helping people who help people promote their own businesses. But, I have this gorgeous and useful spiritual practice of acceptance, forgiveness and service that I use in every area of my life.
After more than a decade in corporate communications, Amanda Berlin has found a way to use her powers for good. She is a communications specialist and content strategist who helps coaches and mindful entrepreneurs find their voice, create systems for writing great content, and connect with their target audience in a completely authentic and stress-free way. Visit her website for regular tips and tricks for creating content that connects.
I’m so excited to debut the Life Starter’s Blog Series. I have had the greatest honor and fortune of hearing your powerful stories of personal transformation and I wanted to share them all. Because I know that together we can help support, inspire and lift one another. Every Tuesday, we will proudly feature your stories. If you’d like to submit a post, please go here for guidelines and more info. Happy reading!