The Oxford dictionary states that Integrity is “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”. The day I realised my time working for a corporate company needed to end was the day that I realised they had no integrity and I was beginning to question whether I had any left.
You may have read the back story to Out and About and you may be aware that I previously worked in financial services for a large corporate company. What I have never discussed is some of the decisions I took in order to leave this world and what drove those decisions.
I have received numerous emails from followers telling me that they would love to quit the rat race and the corporate world and move to a simpler and more wholesome life, asking me how I achieved this. I have answered many of these email and passed on information and details but at the same time I don’t think I truly conveyed how I felt at the time and what forced my hand to finally ask for my P45.
The beginning of the end for me, was my return from maternity leave and the changes that had taken place in management structures whilst I was away. None of these had been communicated to me so I felt that I was the new girl starting work at a new company – we all know that is a pretty daunting feeling.
As a long-serving member of the team I worked in, instead of being viewed by management as an equal and a valuable team member with years experience, I was viewed with suspicion! It was as if I was going to question the authority of those who were supposedly in charge or challenge them for their position. For the first time in my life I was made to feel that my opinion and knowledge no longer mattered. In their eyes I was old, my experience dated and my ideas not radical enough. It was as if becoming a Mum and working a part time week (part time being four days in the office and a truck load of hours at home in my own time) somehow had devalued me.
I am a working Mum and it is a challenge at the best of times, as I also run a seasonal business. Granted it was my choice to set up my business and I could have opted for an easier life but essentially the business was my hobby, my time out, my respite from the stress of working life and my future dream.
If you follow me on social media and read my blogs, you will realise that I’m pretty gutsy and not scared of a challenge nor someone that you would pass over or dismiss!
After sitting in meetings and listening as corporate bollocks after corporate bollocks was fed down the line a little part of me died. None of it ever had the clients at heart, it was all designed to add more pressure, make you work harder for longer and feed their egos!
If I had one more person tell me to write a list, prioritise my workload, put a rock in my diary or make a smart action plan I don’t think I could have been responsible for my actions! Many days I was tempted to make a smart action plan to put those damn rocks in those peoples pockets and push them off the nearest bridge! Not sure I am allowed to say that but hey ho.
What was it that finally forced my hand? What broke me? There were two things, the first, watching a client die in the place I worked in, watching a team of young ladies manage the situation to the best of their abilities even providing CPR. Sadly for this individual there was no coming back, it was the end of their life. Following this I then watched the upper echelons of management swarm around after the event, praising staff for their efforts and then asking them two hours later if they are ok to start work again informing these ladies that their main priority should be to get back to business as usual. I stood by, I did nothing, I said nothing, I regret this.
The second, listening to how a manager coached and pushed a member of their team to apply for another job in order to move them out of their team. This individual was one of the most incapable team leaders I had ever had the pleasure of working with and listening to this manager detail with pride, how they had moved this person on and made them someone else’s problem just about nailed my corporate coffin shut. This individual was now free to wreak havoc on another set of staff rather than being dealt with appropriately. How can you work with a company who actively encourages that type of behaviour? What I should have done in this situation was whistle blow, I didn’t and do I regret it, hell yes!
At the time I didn’t realise that I had changed whilst working for this company. I was a happy outgoing and positive person when I went in. The person that finished was tired, down beaten and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I genuinely thought I was a bad person as I had not met my targets and I had not completed the same volumes of work as my other colleagues. I used to describe my job as an abusive relationship, I would have a horrendous week and I would spend all weekend working to get back on top of things because I promised myself next week would be better, except it never was and I went on like this for months.
It was Mr Out and About who gave me the encouragement to walk away, he could see what was happening to me and he told me that no amount of money in the world was worth what I was going through. I was also fairly unpleasant to live with and he informed me that he would like the wife he married back as he was not so keen on the fire breathing dragon that had replaced her.
I used to listen to a song by Rachel Platten called Fight Song every morning as I walked into work. This was the only way I could get myself into the office. Even now listening to this song, it brings back memories of those mornings, sitting in my car with tears rolling down my face, dreading the day ahead. But it also brings back memories of that day when I finally did the deed, as the words of the song go, this is my fight song, take back my life song, my prove I am alright song…. because I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me!
It took a long time to get to the point where I was able to hand my notice in and walk away. The reason it took so long was the colleague’s I worked with and I think many of you may resonate with this. They were genuinely some of the nicest and kindest people you could ever meet and I didn’t want to leave them behind. I didn’t want to leave them in a situation where there was nobody to fight their corner or just listen when others wouldn’t. When I told them that I was leaving to take up farming they were so supportive.
I’m imagining right now there are people sitting reading this, who sit in similar meetings to me and listen to the same old crap day in and day out. The same people who also have songs they have to listen to to get them out of their car and into their office. I also think that there may be people drowning under the pressure, feeling like there is no other way, and that they are stuck. I was there, I was you and I promise there is another way. Your way may not be rearing turkeys but there is something else out there for you. Don’t let the bastards get you down!
It’s taken a long time to write this, In a way it’s been like therapy. It is a time in my life that I had closed the door on and that I never intend to re-open. For all those who can’t get out of their current situation, never lose your integrity. Never lose sight of what is right and what is wrong, be that person who says “No,” and be that person who stands for change and be proud of it.