Just my Thoughts · Politics

How Do You Reconcile “You” with Your Work?

For those of you who do not know it, I am a political junkie.  I worked in politics for many years.  I also love, love, love the television series “The West Wing.”  I am not saying it is gospel of what truly goes on in the West Wing or in politics in the US.  I am saying it is captivating.  The series brought out points about politics and about life in general.

As is my habit, I have reruns of “The West Wing” on the background as I start my work day.  It airs on BravoTV at 8 am and 9 am, Monday through Friday.  Today’s first episode got me thinking.

CJ responds to several questions from the press regarding 17 school girls not being allowed to exit a burning school.  This outburst by CJ caused me to think.

First, this made me think of Ronna Detrick.  She is constantly talking about saying the truth and about roaring.  CJ did both in this episode.

Then, the scene made me think.  What do we – as freelancers – do when our thoughts, convictions do not “jive” with our clients?  My feeling is – and I do not recall as the phone rang and other things happened so I did not see the whole episode – CJ got in trouble for lambasting Saudi Arabia.  She is meant to be a neutral voice, to speak for the White House, for the President at times but not to voice personal opinion.

I have worked with several clients whose political outlook, whose overall outlook has been different than my personal beliefs.  This conflict makes working difficult because you are not authentic.  I was not authentic.  I would literally cringe when some issues would be discussed.  I finally got to the point where the position, the inability to me was not worth the money or the work.

As a person who likes to work, this annoyed me also.  I felt like I was, again, not being authentic to myself by turning down work, work that was paying my kids’ tuition to college, work that was something others would love to have, work that I was good at.  It took a long time for me to realize the greater issue was the cringing while working with clients, the not letting my voice be heard.

What do you do when a business you work for goes against what you believe?  What do you do when companies you do business with go against what you believe?

11 thoughts on “How Do You Reconcile “You” with Your Work?

  1. Oh, Nicki, don’t get me started!

    For now, I’ve decided to do what I have to pay the bills, but I’m going to do it my way, and do it better than I have been.

    All moving towards my new goals and directions until I can leave that business behind. We need to go with what we believe in.

  2. Nicki – TWW is probably my favorite show ever. And I actually saw part of that rerun the other day too. It’s one of my favorite episodes as well. (CJ is equally badass in “The Women of Qumar.”)

    You raise an interesting question. It’s not one that I have an easy answer to. But I do like your approach. You tried both paths – accepting the work while silencing your voice, and turning down work so you wouldn’t have to censor yourself. I think by experiencing both situations and determining which felt less authentic you find your way into the right decision.

    Thanks for this thoughtful post.

    1. Gale – I loved CJ in TWW. She is still a favorite of mine.

      You are right. Eventually, we find our own way.

  3. In two instances, in my corporate career, one large company and one small company, I was asked to go against my beliefs. Essentially, to lie to a customer.

    I refused.

    In the first instance (the large company), my refusal to the woman who asked it (about 15 years younger and a foot taller) was met with irritation, but I kept my good relationships with the client and other colleagues, as well as my job.

    In the second instance, I was let go, soon after my refusal to lie. Just as well. I found out later they were doing plenty that was unacceptable, of which I’d been aware.

    1. BLW – corporate America is different than my life in freelance world. I don’t remember really ever feeling comfortable in “work” but doing it none the less.

  4. Nicki, I started watching The West Wing with a friend a few years ago and fell in love!! (Now that you mentioned it, I’ll have to see if Netflix has the shows available on-line!)

    This is an interesting question. Should you continue work that goes against your personal ethic? Intriguing question.

    It reminds me of a situation, one that might seem contradictory but isn’t intended to be.

    Let’s say that a doctor, we’ll call her Dr. Smith, disagrees with abortion. Yet, she feels it is necessary to be trained in the abortion procedure because she might need to perform one sometime. Is this wrong for her to go against her moral convictions? Should she refuse the training?

    Of course, this case is quite extreme. For one thing, Dr. Smith may think abortion is okay when the mother’s life is in danger or other reasons, but disagree with elective abortion. That is beside the point. The point is, I think most people at one time or another–in any career–are confronted with something that clashes with their personal beliefs. I don’t know the answer to the scenario I presented, just putting it out there.

    As for you? I greatly admire how involved in politics you are. I can imagine these jobs are quite (morally and spiritually) tiring.

    1. Thanks, Amber. I would probably be more worried about my decisions if they were so life and death oriented. Generally, they are not.

  5. P.S. I forgot to mention that I think it is wonderful that you realized you–your voice–are more important than any work you disagree with.

  6. When I worked in insurance for 18 years I really felt that I was the face of the company to our customers and I had to wear the company hat, so to speak, all the time. Thank goodness, with the exception of one boss, whom I disobeyed, no one ever asked me to handle a claim in anything but an utmost fair manner.

    But I had a customer once who was virulently anti-semitic and kept ranting and raving about the doctor who was suing her (he was actually a Catholic French Canadian!) and I really had to examine my heart on this. Was I Jewish Linda or was I this very much middle American Christian Insurance company I worked for?

    Finally I realized I was both – me and the representative of the company and that they hired me for all the attributes I brought to the table. I told her that I was indeed that religion and that she had offended me and that while I planned to continue handling her claim to my best ability I didn’t plan to listen to anymore diatribes. That was the end of that.

    1. Linda – speaking up is important. I have done that at times also. I have never had a problem with a client or employer being bothered by my speaking my mind.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.