Best Boss Ever

Best Boss Ever

I stood there, stunned. Wasn’t that precisely what I said? Why did the idea suddenly gain more credibility, five-minutes later, when it passed the lips of a male co-worker? Why couldn’t my boss hear me and this idea? Was there something wrong with how I communicate? Was it me?

This wasn’t the first time this boss ignored my ideas only to accept them later from a male co-worker. One of my co-workers unsolicitedly pointed this fact out.

A co-worker told me that he noticed the boss ignoring my ideas, only to accept the same idea when it came from someone else. Someone like him. He didn’t share this in a friendly “I want to be your ally” kinda way either. Whatever, that’s his baggage, not mine.

If I had more confidence (at the time), I would have called out these affronts in real-time. Instead, I kept quiet like the good and compliant girl my mother raised me to be. None of my negative feelings would burden anyone.

Except those feelings wreak havoc when they get stuffed down. Keeping quiet when you feel wronged does no one a favor– except it gives credence to harsh things your inner critic believes. But resentment grows, and all of your future interactions with that person become poisoned.

However, lots of people work in situations where they don’t feel safe speaking up. They’re afraid that they won’t be heard or worse they’ll be branded a troublemaker. I look back at this job and question why I stayed for so long. Here’s my little PSA and advice that I should follow. Life is too short to stay in situations that dull your shine and make you question your worth.

Anyhow, “the best boss I’ve ever had” lore followed this man, but I dreaded most of my interactions with him for the years we worked together. At his best, he could be direct and “get shit done.” But often, I felt ignored and dismissed.

We all long to feel a sense of belonging, but this need can be especially intense in “only situations” or when you doubt your worth. Both applied to me as I was the only woman on a team full of men. 

At the core of all of this, I wanted my boss’ acceptance and to feel valued. I never really got either, but, truthfully, my perceptions of his opinion colored all of our interactions, and the times in which I felt de-valued became spotlighted.

I spun self-protective narratives to explain why this man dubbed “best boss” by others didn’t meet this superlative for me, and why I often felt sidelined. Maybe it was sexism? Or was my slow to act introversion an affront to his extroverted and brash act now-ness? 

In an odd moment, the universe dismissed the validity of my sexism claim. At my husband’s office holiday party, I chatted with my former boss when another woman, who had worked with him on a different project, approached. She began profusely thanking him for being her champion and encouraging her to lead a team when she didn’t think she could do it. 

All of the approval and acceptance I longed for, she received. Haha, the truth is, it was me. If you are mostly true to yourself, you aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And, that’s okay.  But, more importantly, this quote…

“Your worth is not dependent on other people’s ability to see your value.”

-Brene Brown

I refer back to this same quote often. Yes, the words may not be exact, but the sentiment is.

I tied my value and worth into what my boss thought of me. We can’t control anyone else’s opinion of us, and if we could, who’s the arbitrator of whose opinions matter?

More importantly, though, if we can’t see our value, why would anyone else? Many people spend most of their time trapped in their own thoughts, unconcerned with the value of others. But, if we accept that we’re enough, we don’t pine for acceptance and atta-girls from others.  

Accepting yourself is a lifelong process, though. How about I just start with appreciating all of the lessons along the way.

Becky Elliott

After dropping out of a liberal arts college that focused on reading and discussing the “Great Books”, Becky Elliott found her way to a career in IT. For 20+ years, she has held a number of roles in Dev and Ops, and the area in between the two. In working for organizations in which poor security practices can cost lives, she’s an ardent believer in integrating security through the entire design process. Becky holds a number of industry certifications including the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

View all posts by Becky Elliott →
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