2022: New Year older me?
Updated: Jan 2
Hellooo I’m back! Writing one post every few months to hit my yearly quota that makes it worth paying for this domain.
How has your 2021 been?
For me, it’s been pretty good for most part. I:
Dived head first into starting a company, which in hindsight may not have been the best thing to do
Got the box through another 1.5 lockdowns with the team
Lost a few members and some employees
Ran our box’s first-ever out-of-the-box “Amazing Race”
Took on a new role at Thrive Healthcare
Re-learned branding and marketing in a whole new light — really ESSEMYOU what did you teach me?
Made many many mistakes. I learned from some, and not from them all
Learned to love myself more and treat myself better.
Well, while it wasn’t all sunshine and roses and I had my moments of brokenness throughout the year, wishing that many things did not happen the way that it did.
I was going to put off writing this yearly reflection partly because I was "busy" and partly because I wasn’t in much of a mood for any self-improvement activities… BUT therein was the problem.
I though that ignoring the issue would eventually tide it over, after all, time heals all wounds amrite (read: "am I right")? In reality, I was in a terrible headspace and wallowing and bemoaning my inability to change was not the answer CLEARLY.
I took a walk…
Up to that point, my mind was cloudy. I was a mess and acting out of a sense of helplessness. It clouded my actions and I knew I was disgusting. On New Year’s eve, I agreed to take a short walk with my mother at the Green corridor, in an attempt to get out and clear my clouded mind a little.
The walk eventually took longer than I thought.
Realisation #1: I’m Inexperienced
We talked about work, and as all Asian parents do, she’d ask to no end about my businesses: What was ACF up to? Were we financially on the right track? What’s happening with SpoilMRKT? Did I have new clients?
I answered all these incessant questions factually. But as an astute Relationship Manager (read: gloried bank salesperson who manages customer relationships and portfolios) she realised that these questions weren’t getting the answers she was looking for. “You look very burdened,” she said.
Not a topic I wanted to talk about, after all, I did not want to worry her about my career decisions since I left the corporate world. But I said “yes I am burdened because I don’t think I am living up to my role in ACF and SpoilMRKT.”
I was supposedly the CEO of both companies, yet I always felt that I lacked the competency to fulfil the requirements of the role. I felt too young, too inexperienced, and there were so many things I had to work on: management, risk assessment, leadership, processes, the list was endless!
And with that I had unconsciously fell into an endless cycle of hopelessness… that the mountain was an impossible one to climb.
It did not help that she remarked, “you know what Cassie, I think you left the corporate world too soon. You’re too young for this role.”
That cut deep. “Thanks? I guess?”
She was not wrong. I looked at my peers who held similar positions. Experience in a myriad of roles and organisational processes was definitely their edge.
Realisation #2: Hard Work does not Pay Off
“You lost that cheeky glint in your eye you once had”.
She was right. And I had already known.
I had developed a complex that I would never be good enough, and DOING and GRINDING at the work at hand would simply be enough to make it out of the ditch — after all, #HWPO (Hard Work Pays Off) right?
I was so wrong.
In the constant act of DOING, I would not have the time to be deliberate about my actions, nor the space to take a step back to assess and think: what could be done better? To think creatively and critically which I needed to do, rather than to react to everything that came my way — the very thing I had set out in 2020 not to do.
On that note: I am a human being that is just as stupid as the ones of the past I used to laugh at. Making the same mistakes over and over again like I had the memory span of a goldfish.
I took a moment to kick myself in the figurative balls before I got down to remind myself that I should “work on the things within my control," namely me.
So after I wrapped up the domain transfer of a website that I was commissioned to do right on New Year's Eve (yay me) I cracked open a book that I had meant to read after I finished a marketing book.
The book was titled, Business Made Simple by Donald Miller and got me at Chapter One in its opening sentence:
"No core competency can overcome bad character. If we don't have good character, we are going to fail in business and in life. And we will never become value-driven professionals."
As I pored through the contents of the book I was hesitant. What if I read something that I didn't like to hear? What if the book told me that I'm not business material? What then?
I took a long moment.
Well, I was not in a position to give up my roles, nor did I want to. Anyway, ignorance is bliss... but only for a moment. If I wanted to make a difference to the job I had set out to do, then I'd better suck it up and be a "value-driven professional" like I ought to be.
So I started.
As I read the book, I thought to myself: If someone was reading this book while they looked at me go off (my rocker), they’d probably think “wow, Cass really needs to get her sh*t together and read this book!
Playing the Damsel in Distress
I'm not yet done reading the book, but first chapter hit me hard. The "ten characteristics of a value-driven professional" were characteristics I thought I had and characteristics I used to have but I had lost in the last two years.
Not pushing the blame to the onset of COVID-19 — sure this pandemic did a whole lot of damage to a lot of people, but it was the trigger of the pandemic along with a whole lot of other changes and self-declared helplessness that culminated into me developing this "victim mentality" that Miller describes.
Who is the victim?
“The victim exists in the story to make the villain look bad and the hero look good. That’s it. They do not grow, change, transform, or receive any sort of recognition at the end of the story. And that’s one of the many reasons you never want to play the victim.”
Here are a few other characteristics of a victim that I felt that I was falling into (exerpt from the book):
We tend to move into victim mode when things get tough
Playing the victim often means we blame our situation for our shortcomings rather than ourselves
Playing the victim can be tempting
+ Here's one from me: People who succeed in playing the victim once will continue to play the victim.
When I was maybe five (5) years of age I remembered seeing a child cry at the void deck to get his father to buy him some snacks, which the father eventually did.
So I mimicked that behaviour. I wanted to play at the playground a little longer, so I threw a fit. I got a time extension. The next time I wanted a second mentos, I whined until I got another. The next time I wanted a toy I screamed my lungs out until she caved. AND I kept going and going, while my mum got more resilient. She found a way to hold out longer and longer as my screams got louder and louder... until they couldn't get louder anymore.
I eventually stopped and found that asking nicely and being a good and reasonable child would get me what I wanted, save me a sore throat, and an unhappy mother.
So here's what happens:
People get tired of being around "false victims"
A false victim is resented from stealing resources and help from actual victims
Not many people see it or know, but I struggled a lot with my self-worth because of how I viewed my abilities. Even though I could do these things before, I had fallen into this mindset that whatever I did would never be good enough. Eventually my language and speech became very self-defeating and I had chosen to become the victim.
So when I read that chapter. All I could think was:
GROSS. It was me 100%.
How did I become this person?
But thank God that Miller is clear that we are not resigned to the victim mentality. He says "I confess that the fight to not see myself as a victim is an ongoing battle. In fact, the victim mentality is often a knee-jerk reaction."
He in fact, encourages us to become the HERO: one who rises up and succeeds against all odds and challenges.
Keep fighting, don't quit.
And that stuck with me. So sure, while mum's declaration that "[I'm] too young for this role” cast a net of doubt over my heart, I choose to rise above that sentence.
The rest of the book goes on with really valuable character traits to grow into, but this was really the hook.
Other Bonus Sound Bites (just from Chapter One):
Be a team member who actively tries to get your boss a 5x or greater return on their investment
None of us have to be a slave to our emotions. Our emotions do not have to become actions
Establish a feedback loop in your life
A value-driven professional wants to be trusted and respected more than they want to be liked
A good leader: sets expectations, provides accountability for those expectations, and rewards good performances
Successful people make real things happen in the real world. They do not let their best life get stuck in their imaginations #MakeItHappen
Successful people do not live in confusion; they live in clarity. To choose clarity, remove the need to please others, your pride that you may lose face, and all fear of consequences
BE RELENTLESSLY OPTIMISTIC
Have a growth mindset - Remember that mountain I spoke about? Well, if every day I could make that 1% improvement or change to the company, I would at least be MOVING UP THE GODDAMNED MOUNTAIN, rather than standing at the foot looking up in longing.
The purpose-driven life
A month ago I had the thought, "what is my purpose on earth?" Because I had indeed felt a light dimming within me.
And reading this, that answer has found some shape and clarity. I think that the problem I was having was that I had pivoted from my initial purpose and meaning that is "to do what I can to help people do what they can", to a new goal: get more money, see business growth. Which, while practical and very "real" does not resonate with me.
I will be spending some time to clarify my purpose and to work on myself. The temptation to return to the old ways is great. Because it's "comfortable" and it's "easier". But I left that Cass in 2021.
All this is not to say that I did not enjoy the past year. A 101 things happened and I honestly don't remember when the year started or ended, BUT amongst many things I learned to love myself more and treat myself better.
Here’s going into 2022, where I take a step backward to go forward.
And a firm resolve that I won’t make the same mistakes again.
P.S. if you see me, tell me if that “glint” in my eye has returned.