Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Long and Short of It

So, I had Flag Day, I posted once, and then. . .nothing. I had the best of intentions, I swear. But post-Flag Day was a whirlwind: training, packing, logistics, selling things, buying things, figuring out things, getting things wrong, redoing, undoing, throwing away, more packing, saying goodbye. . .and that was just the DC half of the adventure. There was the GETTING TO POST (always a bit painful), and then once at post, there was the learning of new job, unpacking, replacing lost or broken things, unpacking, unpacking, unpacking, and getting to know a new city. . .all with a small child. So hopefully you can see why something had to go by the wayside, and blog, it was you, my old friend.

But now that the dust has settled, I'm hoping we can get reacquainted.

I am loving Foreign Service life (setting aside the ridiculous 16% pay cut the lovely Congressman Reed has introduced. . .more on that later). The job is challenging, interesting, impossibly hard at times, rewarding, demoralizing, unique, creative. . .fabulous. It's everything you thought it would be. Not every day, mind you. Not even every week. There are definitely moments that are. . .less than stellar. Bust stepping back, overall, it feels like a really good fit. I feel like I am contributing to the betterment of my country. I feel like I am making a difference. Not necessarily in a huge change-the-world-overnight way, but in a journey-of-a-thousand-miles-starts-with-a-single-step way, most definitely.

Here is what I have taken away from it so far:

1. Take it slow. Don't leap in and volunteer to do everything at first. Don't tell everyone what you think from the minute you hit the ground. Hang back. Let things develop. Give yourself a chance to acclimate, and to learn who everyone is, what they're about, and what they do. Let the dust settle, and give yourself a chance to see the big picture. No matter how good your instincts are, it will take a while for everything to fall into place, and you'll be better off if you give yourself a chance to figure out how things work and where you might fit in.

2. That said, figure out where the holes are, and innovate. Offer yourself up. Figure out where you can be value-added. Whatever your portfolio, the nature of this career means that there is room for you to define your role in a way that has interest for you while also having value for your post.

3. Whatever you do, do it well. Be the best you can be.

4. When you have figured out what you are doing, and you have figured out how to do it well, then--and ONLY then--volunteer for extra stuff. You will not only learn new skills that way, but you will meet new people. But your boss needs to value you for your core roles first.

5. The "easy" posts are not necessarily so easy, for you and/or for your family, for both personal and professional reasons. Remember that EVERY post has its benefits, and it also has its costs. As you go through your tour, learn to embrace the benefits and live with the costs. Love what is to be loved, and keep in mind that no matter how much you hate the bad stuff, it's only temporary.

6. Don't sit around waiting for someone to tell you what to do or how to do it. Move forward with your job (keeping in mind the points raised above). If you are doing it wrong, or they want something else out of you, they will generally tell you. You will not necessarily get as much guidance or have as much oversight as you might have imagined, but part of the reason they chose you was because they knew you were capable of succeeding without guidance or oversight.

Anyway, those are just my insights from the field thus far. I have another post rolling around my head about this job, the proposed pay cuts, the sacrifices, etc., so I promise I won't disappear again for another six months.

No comments:

Post a Comment