I’ve been conflicted lately. I’ve felt the need to pause and reflect on what I’ve done, am doing and hope to do.
What I’ve done: Working for a call center company is not glamorous. Most folks have an interesting/ tough story of how they got there. Few have others options. I was no exception. Incredibly talented and hard working people, especially frontline staff, did not get paid enough. My 60 to 80 hour weeks were unreasonable. I watched the co-worker with 25 years of service who had trained me be let go with only 2 weeks notice, simply because she “stacked ranked” below me.
At the same time, I never doubted that the work I did actually made the lives of people on the margins better. I was always clear about my purpose: Do everything within my power to help front line staff be successful so that:
- Our current employees would not lose their jobs
- We could provide more opportunities to folks who needed work
To those ends, I was allowed to do some good stuff based on fairly innovative learning theory and science. We knew when we were successful because our metrics improved. But, the real motivation came from the stories shared: One less person suffering from a panic attack, a few people able to better provide for their kids, many folks able to keep their homes, jobs for the otherwise unemployed, young eager and smart people in developing countries becoming upwardly mobile, people with limited formal education advancing into better-paid positions with increased responsibility. It was all made possible because of what and how we taught, coached and educated. We did make a difference.
What I’m doing: When I had the chance to move from a job as a learning & quality consultant at a customer care company to an open learning organization, it felt like an incredible privilege: Reduced working hours, improved working conditions, increased job security and the chance to contribute to improving access to educational opportunities among often marginalized groups. And while it has certainly not been all rainbows and roses (more resistance and re-orgs), I’ve never lost that sense that I am incredibly privileged to have my current job. For the first time in years, I have time to think and write and read – oh the luxury! And in those moments of luxury, I return to hard questions: How am I using my relative increase in privilege to make a difference? Have I become part of the problem?
What I hope to do: I have more options, more idle time, more privilege than I’ve ever(?) had. I have no idea what to do with it.
Should I seek to engage in research and complete an EdD? If I believed that I could achieve something of value.
Start another business? If I really needed money. Develop real estate? Meh.
Go back to the private sector? It’s currently the learning space might be the most interesting and some days I miss it. But I want to believe in public education.
Did I mention that I’m conflicted?