I had an epiphany last night, when thinking about my career and my job… It’s the kind of thought that can keep you up at night and make you question what you’ve been doing and where you’re going.
Simply put, it’s been awhile since I’ve been proud of the work that I’ve been doing.
Of course, not every day at work is going to make headlines. Not every day at work is going to be worth telling stories about to family and friends. Not every day at work is going to be the stuff that makes for a line on your resumé. But for a job to be truly engaging, there needs to be a healthy amount of that, don’t you think?
A professional needs to be able to come home from work and think to him/herself, “I made a difference today.”
The last time I was really proud of the work that I do, and truly felt like I made a meaningful and lasting difference, was several months ago at a gathering of LGBT employees and the straight allies who advocate on their behalf. Two executives separately told stories to almost 150 people about how I had inspired them at work.
One was a senior executive told the story of how she, as a straight-but-supportive leader, had come to me asking for advice about how she could get involved to support LGBT teammates. Thinking she’d be given some simple task like showing up at a luncheon or shaking hands at a Pride event, she instead left that meeting as an executive sponsor of the local LGBT Pride chapter. She laughs when she tells this story, usually saying something to the effect of, “If you’ve ever asked Kevin what you can do to help…”
The other was an executive who told the story of being at a work dinner, meeting me for the first time, when I was discussing my fiancé with a table full of colleagues. One asked me, “What does she do?” and I casually responded, “He’s an actor” and continued the story. She said that seeing how matter-of-factly I addressed the subject, like it was no big deal but was worth correcting, inspired her to realize that she should come out as a lesbian.
These two stories made me proud of the impact that I’ve had at my company. It made me feel like I made a difference, in their lives, and by extension for the larger workforce that they each interact with daily.
I want more of that feeling. I want more days when I come home proud of my accomplishments, confident that they were important and meaningful. Not necessarily just about LGBT things, but in general I want to make my workplace a better place to work because I’m part of it.
Consider me re-motivated to go make a difference.