“Gotta feel the vibes, real from my creation” – Phife
Recently a newer professional was retelling how they landed on their law school matriculation. According to them, a campus visit convinced them that the vibe was off. Just like that, scholarships, esteemed faculty, higher tiered institution – nope. The vibe was off.
In so many areas of my experience, I have relied on my instincts. Avoid unlit streets. Never venture to the second location. Be careful in situations where you are the ‘only’ one. Trusting your instincts was tantamount to survival. You might not be able to articulate what that feeling was but, if the vibe wasn’t right, humph, you’re leaving.
Recently though I’ve spent some time reconsidering how important it is to trust your instincts in professional situations. When interviewing for a position, your question about the workplace culture could be met with blank stares or worse hasty management speak. The literature suggests that as professionals move up the ladder the decision-making process requires creativity, courage, and yup, trusting your gut. You knew it when you figured out that the culture was toxic and the opportunity for growth was questionable. Instead you reviewed the offer, studied cost of living indices, and convinced yourself that the commute would be tolerable. You knew from the screen Zoom that this was not your place or your people. Too often as we move through our professional journey we suppress the intuitive choice rather than relying heavily on the analytical.
Relying on our analytical reasoning helped us ace the LSAT, sail through graduate school group projects, and earn the good graces of our coworkers. Highly talented. Respected professional. Cheerful team player. Exemplary information professional, except, you are withering away inside. Once again for the people in the back, this is not your place or your people. What’s worse, you knew this day one of onboarding and you knew it when you were added to a group that spent more time ordering lunch than discussing the project. So you strike a negotiation with yourself that once the projects get more interesting, finances look better, or said irritant retires then you will feel better. The nagging doubt will subside and you will return to regular programming. But it doesn’t.
A lifelong friend asked me for advice recently. Her former flame and now trusted friend had found success in a city some 3000 miles from everything and everyone she’d ever known. While the business was flourishing, he complained to my friend that her management skills and aptitude with uncomfortable conversations were the skills he found lacking in his current staffing. The job offer included an enviable salary and she had already kiboshed any rekindling of amorous embers. Her parents thought the move was risky. What if his business crashed and you are across the country without income? What if this is an elaborate scheme to re-entangle with you romantically? What if? What if? She called me. It was a Sunday, I was deep conditioning, folding clothes, probably eating Swedish fish. I asked her simply, what does your gut tell you? She admitted the salary and move was the opportunity she had prayed to transport her from her current position and location. I confidently offered her my perspective. Regardless if the company failed or the terms of the relationship with her ex changed, I had full faith in her. Her. Not him. Not the business. Her. What was the point of the math & science summer camps her parents sent her to, walks across the stage to collect those advanced degrees, and working jobs with insufferable bosses if you didn’t emerge from this as a resilient phoenix? Or gasp, excel in the job and love the new city. Where exactly were these transferable skills if you couldn’t propel yourself through a rocky patch and still pay the bills in this economy? Nope the vibe was strong, you got this, girl. It wasn’t that I trusted that the situation was perfect, rather, I trusted that she was a highly competent adult who needed a push. Time to fly.
The more I consider all that life has delivered. I realize that listening to my instincts has never steered me wrong. Have all the decisions I’ve made resulted in positive returns? No. But, I trust myself. Better, worse, or someplace in the middle. I know this much, I will end up on my feet.
Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.