How To Keep Emotional Vampires From Leeching Your Ambition

She was my boss’ secretary, back in those days when there was such a thing as personal secretaries.

She was mean as a snake.  She snapped at anyone who dared ask her for assistance with anything.  And if you made a mistake, heaven help you.

angry snake

We called her “Mean Jean.”  The smart people ignored her. Unfortunately, back then I wasn’t one of the smart people.

I let Mean Jean get under my skin. Sometimes just hearing her answer the phone in her rude snarling voice was enough to get my blood boiling. I’d go to lunch and instead of recharging or thinking about what I wanted to accomplish that afternoon, I’d find myself ruminating over something Mean Jean had said or done.

I even let my emotional angst with Mean Jean spill over into my relationships with others. I wasted valuable time with colleagues complaining about her. Time that I could have spent learning or building relationships was often spent venting about Mean Jean.

In hindsight, I’m appalled that I let myself get so preoccupied with office drama that I lost focus of my goals.  I was trying to get promoted, why did I let a negative relationship dominate my thinking?   She wasn’t even my boss!

I’m now twenty years older and wiser.  Mean Jean, God rest her angry soul, has been dead for over a decade.  But the same dynamic plays out in otherworkplace situations.

My daughter works at a restaurant.  Every night she comes home with tales of who’s mad at whom, who didn’t do what they were supposed to, and who’s ex-wife showed up, drunk.  As I listen to her describe the drama I realize:  The more emotional angst you have in your life, the less you can accomplish.  Many of the people she works with are so embroiled in high drama personal issues that it keeps them from setting and achieving any goals.

My daughter is leaving for college in the fall, but I’m sure she’ll encounter the “emotion takes the place of goals and ambition” problem again.

It’s not just the out of control families on Dr. Phil, as my experience with Mean Jean illustrates, many of us get distracted by drama.

Have you ever been angry with a co-worker? How much time did you spend in meetings dissecting their flaws when you could have been thinking up new ideas for company growth?

Business strategist Lisa Earle McLeod specializes in sales force and leadership development.  A sought after speaker, she is author of The Triangle of Truth, a Washington Post Top 5 Business Book.

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Copyright 2011 Lisa Earle McLeod.  All rights reserved.