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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 14-Mar-07


Wednesday 14-March-07


So my daughter quit her job today, after six months in which she has gone from hope to heartache.


I remember the trauma of my first job. After the intellectual challenges of university I joined an electronics company as a graduate trainee. The programme consisted of being passed around the company from department to department. It seems like a good idea to gain a sound breadth of experience, yet the practice was totally demoralizing. Many of the departments were completely unready for me and I was given menial jobs to do, sometimes for months on end. Should I have been grateful for the work and the experience? Probably, but I was young and idealistic. When my fianc? decided to go back to university I jumped at the chance to leave.

When I quit the job and unquestioningly expected my parents to support me for another year at college they sighed too, but stumped up. In the end I taught for just a couple of years (my parents were right -- it's hard) before drifting into software, which I really enjoyed. There was more money here, so although my parents sighed again, they didn't really mind. And after 30+ years, my career is still tossing and turning. Perhaps I'm lucky, but it's mostly been interesting and reasonably well paid.

The problem with my daughter is that she has too much integrity -- at least for the job she was doing. Headhunting includes much lying as you deceive your way past protective PAs an into conversation with the target executive, then pump up the job and the candidates into a glorified and well-paid marriage. And she hated it. She has more integrity than perhaps is good for her in this profession, though as a person she has many attributes that are both rare and admirable.

Perhaps there is some hope, as she has discovered in her headhunting work. There seems to be two types of executive she has interviewed. To stereotype, there is the selfish, big-ego bully and the selfless, honourable leader. The true leader succeeds through gathering followers who appreciate true integrity and repay this with true loyalty. The bully plays a controlling parent role or worse, cowing people and berating them into meekness. It's easier and quicker to be a bully but it's greater and more durable to be a true leader.

I think that, given the right chance and the right support, she could be the true leader. She probably doesn't feel much like a leader at the moment, but I believe she could soar.

She asked me if I was disappointed in her and I nearly wept at the pathos. I told her that I was disappointed for her, but not in her, which is true. When she has tried so hard to make things work, how can I do otherwise? If she had been lazy or callous I might well have felt otherwise, but the truth could not be further away.

You can't live your lives for your children, and they all, in their different ways, will give you heartache. But in the end their lives are their own and they will do what they do. And after all the support and encouragement, all you can do is keep your fingers crossed for them.

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