Reactions of Setbacks

Get Back Up - Reactions of Setbacks

I have always been a career-focused person, thinking and planning in advance for tomorrow. Since I joined Microsoft in 2008, my career has been on great trajectory and I have always been getting great ratings and reviews.

In Feb 2015, I made a decision to change a job inside Microsoft. Things were amazing for first 6 months. My manager believed in the work I did, I was happy with what I was doing and my manager and I were discussing my path to next level.

After 6 months, I got a news that there was a re-organization and my manager has decided to take retirement. I realized soon after that all the discussions for my promotions were just between my manager and I only. He didn’t communicate it to new management on his promises and just gently mentioned in passing that I was aggressively planning my career. As a result, my new management had a different picture of the timeline for promotion, and quite frankly I had lost trust in my management.

Not so surprisingly, I started losing interest in the work I was doing. That was the first time in last 8 years when I was not networking, not thinking about my projects, not caring about the visibility – which I loved doing prior to this incident. I was not comfortable this version of Silvia that I had become. I never appreciated people who were lame in their career planning and not working hard for themselves, and all of a sudden I had become one of them.

It’s so easy to get into the vicious cycle of demanding for a promotion – becoming resentful – not performing at the required level – not getting promotion – then becoming even more resentful, and so on…

But these last 2-3 months of discomfort have taught me following things, that I think will be useful for anyone going through a similar experience or setback in life and finding it hard to come out of the downhill spiral:

  1. Don’t focus on results or getting all As: The biggest reason for my discomfort has been not being an A anymore. Although my management has praised me in my the last months, but I don’t believe or respect their words anymore, because numbers and $$$ don’t show an A. To me, getting an A in anything I do had been so important all my life and it has been extremely disturbing for me to not get one. Last month, I met a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft, Laura Butler, whom I knew from Windows Phone days  and asked for her advice. She is one of the most genuine and effective person I have worked with. The first thing she told me was to be comfortable with Bs and Cs. You can’t always get As. Define your priorities and then focus on working towards those priorities. As, Bs and Cs are the perception of what people think of you , and not really what you are. Focus on putting in the best effort and doing the best work you can do. As is rightly said: Kam Kar Fal Ki Chinta Na Nar (Focus on Action and Don’t worry about Fruit).
  2. Quit blaming: Blaming another person for your setback does no good, and just dials in your energies toward the negative spectrum. As you might have heard, positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative. So focus on positive. As I was focusing on  the negatives, it made me more restless and relentless. It drowned my energies thinking how I will work the whole year and not get paid good at the end. And that eventually regressed my performance and reduced my chances of being promoted further. So I made a resolution to focus on the positives, like the impact I am making, the customers that I am helping, and I started loving my job again. As a result, more people started noticing me in the organization and my visibility as well increased.
  3. Think progressively. The following quote stuck me in head when I read it in the book The Magic of Thinking Big – By David J. Schwartz. It pretty much explains the whole point in just few words:

How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until  you win.

Quite frankly, I am not sure if these changes/revelations will change my management’s mind to give me promotion or not. But these lessons did change my attitude towards the work I am doing, the impact I am making. I have started to love my job again, I get up in the morning full of energy to go back to office. I am sure these changes are putting me on a progressive path, which is enough for me to be happy.

Hope these lessons help you as well overcome some of the stuck situations in your life.

Do leave comments below to let me know your experiences!

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A geek, a techie, a daughter, a sister and a wife. Worked at Microsoft for 8 years and currently working at Amazon Web Services (AWS). All opinions expressed here are my own and has no correlation to my employer or ex-employers!

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