I was having a conversation about all of my past work experiences and I said "I can't believe it has taken me this long to start my own business". Today it seems so obvious - OF COURSE I have my own business. But prior to starting this business, I felt very sure that this would not be my life. In fact, I have been known to say things like "if everyone owns a business then who is going to work at Wal-Mart?"
The reason this path seems so obvious to me now is because, if I'm being honest (and I am always being honest), I have been pushed out, bullied until I made a move, strongly encouraged, denied opportunities for growth, or offered incentives to leave every job I have ever had in my adult life - even though I have also been high achieving and very successful (which is why I've never actually been fired) in all of those places. That truth is hard to admit because, as the saying goes, the common denominator is me. But... what is it about me - exactly?
Admittedly, I am not the best person to answer this question because I think I'm amazing. However, if I had to try to be fair to all parties involved, I would say it really comes down to my complete disinterest and unwillingness to "play the game". Now - don't confuse that statement with a disinterest or unwillingness to participate in politics. I actually enjoy politics. I like the strategizing, the meeting before and after the meeting, watching a plan come together and ultimately achieving an outcome that is in everyone's best interest. It's not fun being outplayed, but that's politics, and I have no problem with that. The "game" I don't participate in is the pretending that things are not what they are, holding space for dishonesty, making excuses for mediocrity, being in environments where people who don't achieve are safe and people who overachieve are accused of making other people look bad... that's the game I've never been willing to participate in... and apparently that level of honesty at all times is intimidating and makes me problematic.
For example - hypothetically speaking, let's say I was in a meeting and someone says something that is demonstrably false. Everyone in the room knows that it's false and the falseness prevents the attendees from moving forward with real solutions. I am the person in the room who will say "that's not true". Sometimes calmly, sometimes in frustration, but always out loud. Now, that seems like an obvious thing to do in that circumstance - we teach children that honesty is the best policy and that "fibbing" is wrong, but apparently once you become an adult, you are just naive if you actually believe and expect honesty from people you work with (though it absolutely still appropriate to expect it from romantic partners who also work).
So using this hypothetical scenario, what would happen next is some version of me making the entire room uncomfortable because I called out the lie. After the meeting, I would have 1 or 2 people "high five" me for telling the truth despite their unwillingness to support me in the moment or in any professionally helpful way afterwards, and then I may also have 1-2 people go to someone with authority and talk about how inappropriate my comments were and highlight how uncomfortable I made them feel. Those people who might go to someone with authority are taking advantage of the "time and place" philosophy - it's just an unfortunate byproduct that I would not have an opportunity to explain myself or even know they had an issue. But what would NOT happen is any level of accountability for the person who actually lied. The logic being we all knew they were lying, so why did I need to say it? Yeah... so I would do things like that all the time for my entire career. And in each position, after a while, people get tired of me and my high expectations and, since I never "learned my lesson", it would become more and more obvious that I'm "not a good fit". I've been called uppity, nasty, the b-word, you know - all the winners that have absolutely no racial or gendered undertones at all and when I complain about how I am being treated, that is also a problem that I should be strong enough (again no stereotypical anything there), to work through without creating discomfort for others by saying anything about it. So then at some point I leave the place.
Now for transparency and legal reasons, I have to note that, I have never been fired from a job and the above stated scenario is completely hypothetical. But the feelings I'm describing are mine and they are real.
So rather than learn my lesson, I've decided to hold on tighter to my naive obsession with honesty and share my truth in a variety of ways. My hope with doing this is equally naive - to change hearts and minds, shine a light on what could be, and free some people from the idea that they have to change who they are to get ahead... so wish me luck!
To be clear - I'm not suggesting that growth and maturity aren't necessary. I'm saying if people with questionable values aren't even expected to think about it then why on earth would I feel bad for being too honest... hypothetically.