You’re in a job. Your supervisor just doesn’t see what you can do. Or, worse, maybe they do see it and don’t want you to be your best. Maybe they don’t think the organization is ready for your bold thinking. Maybe you’re ahead of your time. Perhaps they are afraid you will outshine them.
Whatever the reason — there you are, stuck in a corner.
Now, What Do You Do?
I recently asked a mentor about this situation, if she’d ever encountered it, and what she thought were the best options. She told me this:
You have one of two choices: You can choose to stay in the corner, or you can choose to leave the corner.
Pretty cut and dry, right? No one likes to be in a corner, so what do you do?
Choose Your Own Adventure
Choice one: Stay in the corner
You could try #quietquitting, which is a choice to stay in your role and your corner. You do what’s asked of you, nothing more and nothing less.
This is a totally viable option for some people. However, you can add a twist if this just isn’t “you.”
Twist 1: You stay in the corner and quietly quit while doing something else that will bring you joy and satisfaction. With the energy you’re not spending on the work you want to do, you spend that time doing something that #sparksjoy. Start a side gig. Work on your social media presence. Teach. Mentor. Volunteer. Whatever gets your motor runnin’.
Twist 2: You stay in the corner, and instead of quietly quitting, you find other things within the job you can pour yourself into. You could volunteer for an assignment under another supervisor, start a book club, or dive head-first into the learning management system to learn new skills. This twist is where you take the extra time and energy and work on something in your organization that fuels your flame.
Choice two: Get out of the corner
In this choice, you decide enough is enough. The emotional, spiritual, or mental toll of being in the corner isn’t worth it. And so, this is where you decide that it’s time to leave. This is a reasonable, sane, and healthy choice.
A word of wisdom on this choice: Make sure you’re running toward something and not away from something. To ensure you’re not running away from something, you may want to talk to your supervisor again and see if you can persuade them to let you get out of the corner. Let them know that you’re looking for more opportunities, that you feel you have more to offer (be specific about what you’d like to do), and be clear about what you feel is lacking.
Boss, I feel I haven’t been challenged in the role in the last few months, and I believe I have more to offer. There is an opportunity where I think my contribution might move the needle forward for our organization. I’d like to lead the Upgrade Project. I have a strong background in this type of work and have been looking for opportunities to improve my project leadership skills. Is this something you’re open to discussing with me?
If the boss is open and starts a dialogue, you’re moving out of the corner without leaving your job. This might be the win you’re looking for.
But, if the boss isn’t open to this and turns you down, you know it’s time to start running toward something that will challenge, ignite, and propel you toward your goals.
Choosing Isn’t Easy
Deciding to stay or go can be gut-wrenching, and you’ll likely go through periods of major self-doubt. All of this is normal. This is a great time to look at hiring a career or leadership coach or involving trusted mentors and friends to help you talk through your decision.
But, at the end of the day, you have to trust yourself, your capabilities, and your ability to know what is best for you. If you can trust yourself and actively move toward something — and not just avoid a difficult situation/conversation — then you can have faith that you’re doing the right thing for yourself.
Remember, nobody puts you in a corner.
Sarah C. Moffat is a mom, civil servant, community volunteer, and leadership coach. She’s also a dynamic speaker, published author, and business storyteller. Applying her real-life experiences, she conveys how individuals and organizations can create opportunities for success and growth through impactful communication and leadership. Moffat is host of the Empowered podcast and has been a featured keynote speaker and panelist across the US and beyond. She also serves as the Vice President for Communications on AFFIRM’s Board of Directors. Moffat is Prosci® certified and holds a B.S. in Psychology and an M.S. in Management and Leadership.
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