Why This? Not That?

Life is so ironic.

Just two months ago, I made a conscious decision to choose life over career. I courageously signed away my promotion by telling my boss that I wanted to set up my own shop outside of work.

And when I finally settled the upheaval in my heart and happily resign myself to eke out the rest of my existence in public service in a humble post, a huge bomb dropped on me.

One of my supervisors (not mine) is leaving the department.

And my boss wants me to take on that role.

It felt like a train ran me down when he offered me the promotion and while I would have jumped up in glee a few months ago (hah, sucker, I got the promotion, not you, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah), it certainly didn’t feel like I was served a silver platter now.


Firstly, this isn’t the position I wanted. I wanted my current supervisor’s position. I wanted it not because I dislike my sup, but simply because there are so many things I wanted to change about our work but could not because he was resistant to change.

The supervisor who is leaving in comparison is probably one of the more forward looking ones and hence his role is also the more strenuous one. I will be taking on a role for a function that I have had minute exposure to. I will have to relearn everything.

Secondly, I will be promoted from amongst my peers. I wouldn’t feel like this way if there were none who were eager for this post. But I know there are and it makes it so awkward that I am offered ahead of them.

Although my boss’ decision to pick me is sound as I am most senior and well-ranked in terms of performance, it doesn’t negate the fear that the positive working relationships I’ve worked at building over the last year may all come to naught.

Thirdly, I have never managed a team before. This is fear speaking – that I would be inadequate, incompetent and cause a bigger mess than my predecessor has left it. I would have to completely overhaul my thinking process from subordinate to boss. From operation to strategic. From tasks to people.

Lastly, this would significantly increase my job commitment at a time when I am struggling to find work life balance. Although I have to discount this a little. Since returning to full time work, I find that I could complete all my responsibilities in half the time and usually spend half a day doing things not related to work.

The issue is that the team function is events and partnerships. There is a very high probability that I will have to spend weekday nights and weekends at our talks, time away from my family. Joel will be taking his semestral exams end of this year, his first major one, and I don’t know if it is wise for me to be away.

Life is really about decisions and every one of them always seem to come with a price.

So then if there are so many reasons compelling me to reject the promotion, why am I so confused?

Firstly, I want it because I’m so frustrated with my current management and I just want to change the way we work. Although I can continue to do that in my current position, it won’t be as effective.

I was reading my past blogs on Management Tips and today when I find myself finally being able to use all that I’ve learnt and shared, not doing so would simply be hypocritical.

Secondly, isn’t this what everybody seeks in a career? A continual progression? Not only in monetary and title, but also in learning and opportunities. I am a proponent of the latter. Why then should I shy away from learning, no matter how steep the curve, when it is offered to me?

If I pass on this opportunity, it will never come back to me. Not because there will be no vacancy, but because I signaled that I am not ready, and never will be. And this isn’t the first time promotion has been offered to me… Honestly, I don’t think I will be the same person at work after this because I’ve consigned myself to a career with zero progression.

Thirdly, life is not just about work, it is about people. One day, the world will fade away and nothing will be left of it. But the influence that you have in someone else’s life, the way you’ve shaped someone else’s thinking, that will be forever. Is this what God wants me to do? To stop staring at the LCD screen and start looking at the faces around me.

Gosh! I was right when I said that every year presents a new challenge for me!

I just want to add though – I am very thankful that my efforts have been recognised. I didn’t start off with promotion in mind and it is with much grace that I have found favour in the eyes of my bosses.

But I want to encourage those of you who are struggling between conformity and conscience in your career, to do what is right always and leave the results to God. That way, you can walk down life’s road with your head held up.

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