Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Don't take it so personally!

This is an instruction I have received many times during my working life. In my performance appraisals, diplomatically striving not to be critical or prescriptive, my manager says, "You tend to take things very much to heart," which is probably a different way of saying much the same thing.

As I have said in previous posts, I have trouble with boundaries. Increasingly lately, I have found it difficult to identify where my work ends and my studies begin, where this blog ends and my job begins, where my job description ends and my hobbies begin. Perhaps if I were a surgeon, it would be easy to know when I was working and when I was not. The line might be a little clearer (although I'm guessing, obviously). But I am a learning professional, a professional learner, and a wild-eyed learning zealot in my spare time. I invest myself in everything I do, so it is impossible not to "take it personally" - it is personal.

When my client implies that I am being underhanded and trying to subvert his agenda, I take that personally. I see it as an affront to my integrity. When a learner says, "look what I can do since you taught me such-and-such," I walk on a pink cloud for a week. When I learn something new, I bounce into the office and try to televangelise the eye rollers.

Perhaps it's arrogant, but I guess I have a hard time persuading myself that they are right and I am wrong, that there should be clearcut boundaries between who I am and what I do. And until I am persuaded, I guess it is unlikely that I will change - we don't take ownership of learning we don't believe in, after all. So, for the foreseeable future, at least, it seems I will continue to be told, "Don't take it so personally!"

1 comment:

Janet Clarey said...

So is the alternative to take nothing personally? You don't strike me as being someone who will look in a vanilla jacket anyway : )
So, keep taking it personally. Please. The same people who make those comments are usually the ones that come to you and say, 'I know you'll tell me like it is...what do you think about...'