April 16, 2020
We are unique and our challenges manifest uniquely.
Your own special situation – a challenge with mentors not understanding you, a major snafu in your research project, building frustration with clinical leadership, growing resentment of the diversity office, etc – always feels specific. There is always enough nuance with what you are going through that the general career development / conflict resolution / faculty support offerings – don’t seem salient. Especially for Women of Color, especially for Black women.
You are not crazy. All of those details and specifics DO matter….but they distract as well. They distract you from your ability to diagnose the gap. One of skills your CEO needs to have is the ability to diagnose your challenges…accurately.
The real struggle behind the struggle occurs when we don’t recognize the root cause of our challenges. We get so caught up in the details of the particular person, or particular rule, or what have you, that we don’t go deeper. We will go on adding details, adding evidence, building resentment…and never go deeper.
This is a problem, because if you are stuck on the surface you will only see surface solutions. Suffering silently is a surface solution. Dropping a research dream because ‘there are no mentors’ is a surface solution. Resigning to working nights and weekends because ‘this is what everyone does’ is a surface solution. Trying to use hard work to overcome structural problems is a surface solution.
I invite you to go deeper.
You go deeper by understanding that your problem, no matter how specific it feels, how personal it manifests – is only a problem because it’s causing a GAP. A gap in one of our 3 primary career needs: Security, Support, and Satisfaction.
Security – I feel safe in this position, I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.
Support – This is an environment where I can learn, try, fail, and grow.
Satisfaction – My hard work is purposeful to the reason I came to academia to begin with. I see the fruits of my labor, day in, day out.
If these 3 needs are met, you can have the craziest curve balls thrown your way, and they won’t shake you. When 1, 2, or all 3 of these needs are NOT met, someone could misspell your name in an email and you will fantasize about violence and burning it all down. 😬
And if the gap persists long enough, we might catch you saying “I tried to do X, but it just didn’t work out.” We might catch you thinking, “I just didn’t have what it takes.”
Undiagnosed gaps in security, support, and satisfaction are not sustainable. Hard work is a surface solution, that only makes up for a gap for so long. Wellness committees are not going to save you. The girl group chat can talk you off the ledge momentarily, but the triggers will keep coming.
Time to go deeper.
Understand that your gap will never be filled with anything external. Period. You can search for band-aids like changing institutions or numbing agents like throwing all of your effort into someone else’s work instead of your own. Surface solutions.
The recipe for deeper, durable change is internal. YOU are the beginning of the security, support, and satisfaction that you are missing.
It’s an about-face. It’s counterintuitive. It’s simple.
It’s just not easy.
I coach early-career WOC faculty in academic medicine to stop treading in the shallow waters. I coach them to create foundations that are strong, durable, and effective. I coach them to cultivate confidence, 3x their productivity, take full leadership of their career strategy, and GET THOSE GRANTS.
My signature coaching program, Get That Grant, is open again for enrollment. If you are ready to invest in the most valuable resource in your career – *you* – visit my application page to book your consult with me today.