Kent’s recent lament regarding his life choices struck a chord with me. Despite our physical distance, him in Ottawa, me in Vancouver, we are often collaborating on and supporting each other’s crazy ideas and ideals. So much so, that our separate perspectives end up becoming our collective perspective – but usually his arguments are much more researched and structured, while mine come from a matter-of-fact belief (typically via experience, but also with a good amount of ass-talking).
Kent and I fight an uphill battle, every day, with the bureaucracy of the public service. But I fight my own battles with my employment status (Term) and level (CR-04) 24/7/365. I have every reason to check out, pack it in, retreat, and walk away with my tail between my legs. Every day I have a quarter-life crisis. I know perfectly well that in my department, in my Region, there is no place for me. Coming to that realization was hard – I love my department, I love my colleagues, I love the opportunities that I’m afforded. But, I have no future there, no matter how badly I want it. I recently passed my 2-year mark, which meant it was gut check time. Though the thought of leaving the public service was attractive, in that I could re-claim my pension contributions, it was a no-brainer. I was too far in, too committed. At last weekend’s TEDxSFU, Luke Brocki spoke on “Journalism: What else would I be doing?”. For me, it’s the title of this post.
I grew up with a belief in the public service. It was never something I aspired to, but rather, something I fell into, much like many of our careers. There are many attractive things about working in the public service and many things I could do without. For the average person, these negative aspects, the red tape, act as a barrier. They dislike the thought of having to work within the confines, of being restricted and so closely scrutinized. This results in 2 situations: those bright people not considering or leaving the public service, or those people making the choice to be actively disengaged in their work, their JOB – not their career.
I am not one of those average people. I choose to not merely be average; I choose to be the best. I willingly choose the more difficult path – I happily choose the more difficult path. I take ownership of my life, of my choices, of my career – not job. I view the red tape as a challenge – how do I accomplish what I want within those confines? How far can I push those boundaries? Who will help me do it? How can we establish trust (from managers, execs, Canadians) to push them further?
I refuse to sit idly by and see the wasted potential. Every time I hear some bullshit about Gen Y being entitled, it makes me want to either vomit or punch the person in the face. Entitled? I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to work somewhere you enjoy going. In fact, if people enjoyed going to work, not only would turnover decrease, production would improve. 40% of a person’s waking hours (working years – 20-65) are spent working. With the eventual shift from work-life balance to work-life integration, there is no doubt that this will increase. So, if my desire to work somewhere that I enjoy going, where I am fulfilled and receive a sense of self-worth and identity, is viewed as entitlement, well then, guilty as charged.
Mark Brand, at TEDxSFU 2012, stated, “I moved to Vancouver and fell in love with the city. Not because of what it is, but what I think it can be.” This is my exact thought on the public service.
Perhaps I’m a masochist, knowing full well that I’ve entered an uphill battle with my belief in what the public service can, and should, be. We need to make, and let, the public service be sexy. I’m tired of getting eye rolls and groans when I tell people that I work for the Federal Government – aren’t you?
I have un-engaged colleagues and friends outside the public service, who all ask me why I do the things I do since they’re well outside my job description. Quite frankly, it boils down to, who am I not to?