In my just-published book Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers I wrote what I did from the perspective of an individual who has been employed at jobs for over 30 years.
Quite frankly coworkers don’t always want to hear about everything that’s going on in your life. A simple confession like: “I forgot to use deodorant this morning. I must get some at the drugstore now” doesn’t need to be brought to life.
IWDs–Individuals With Disabilities–aren’t given a free pass to have anything less than an acceptable demeanor on the job and elsewhere.
The remedy should be to flaunt our identity.
Yet I’m realistic that as persons who have been shut out of employment we have to work twice as hard to get half as far once we’re on the job.
Grateful to be given the job we’re often loyal and dedicated employees who outperform coworkers who don’t have disabilities.
This should give us a halo around our job performance that enables coworkers to view us favorably.
Not so fast. Seeking justice on one job I was denied a promotion.
Being a hard worker doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a stellar performance review and top-notch pay raise either. Something I will talk about in a future blog entry.
The playing field isn’t level. Which is why though on one job I could talk with coworkers about everything I chose not to.
In the coming blog entry I’ll talk about one surprise suggestion I offered in The World of Work chapter in Working Assets.
I’ve published Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers. My target market is individuals living with mental health issues who have the desire and ability to work at a job.
Those of us with bipolar or schizophrenia or other illnesses have unique needs. In my new book I devote a whole chapter to Managing Your Mental Health on the Job.
The fact is that those of us with emotional issues who are employed often “disclose” without being aware that we’ve done this.
The host of a podcast (a woman living with schizophrenia) revealed that she can appear “spaced out” and this can make others think she’s on street drugs.
The woman jokes to the person she’s with that most likely they’d like her “to share” (the drugs) yet she is straight not high.
The fact is an impression is formed of a person within 7 seconds (yes!).
It’s a dual-edged reality: we want coworkers to have empathy for us when we appear “a little off” on the job. But will saying you have schizophrenia thus momentarily draw a blank elicit a favorable response from a coworker?
My guess is that we’re still not “there” yet in society. As a high numbers of peers with mental illnesses are unemployed to begin with.
How can we get “there” to where talking about our experiences helps us perform better on the job?
In my view disclosing on the job can make it harder to do our jobs when we then need to spend time navigating the after-effect of how coworkers responded.
The bottom line is: employers are concerned with their bottom line and how doing our jobs helps them earn money or whatever they’re in business to do.
How can we start to have an easier time at work while also fulfilling the duty we have to satisfy our company’s mission? Will being open and honest make it easier for us to do our jobs?
In coming blog entries I will talk about this in more detail. I take guidance from the 2022 DEI business books I’m checking out of the library and reading.
In Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers I wrote that “Your personality is your jet fuel.”
There’s no better jet fuel to enhance your performance on the job than using your unique perspective to create innovative strategies.
In the chapter Hope for Improvements in the Post-COVID Workplace I reiterated that today more than ever using your personality to find the right career is non-negotiable.
Can you and I afford to settle for less than full inclusion that allows us to show up on our jobs as our spectacular selves?
I’ve come to think that like Trudi Lebron wrote in The Antiracist Business Book “business is personal.” Forming human connections with coworkers and customers is imperative.
We will not thrive at work and traditional capitalism will fail in the post-COVID world if companies continue with business-as-usual.
If we cannot use our gifts and express our individuality on our jobs–two things that help us succeed everywhere we go–then it’s game over.
And the game of capitalism is over in 2022. The economy stalled precisely because the leaders of businesses couldn’t foresee the pandemic coming.
Those of us with the foresight to plan for the unexpected did better.
Peers with mental illnesses would ideally bring compassion for our company’s customers, loyalty to employers who treat us right, and stellar results for the firm.
Surviving and thriving when you have a hardship would give us the ability to persist in using novel approaches to solve a business problem.
The skills and strategies that peers use in our daily lives could indeed be the very Working Assets that will attract a forward-thinking employer.
Coming up a deeper dive into the mechanics of working at a “professional” job.
In Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers I talked about different types of employment. Giving advice about working in an office as well.
The more I’m reading business books with a 2022 copyright date I plan on publishing a second career book within 2 years.
Issues exist in a lot of workplaces for those of us who are not “white cisgender male” employees.
Studying DEI-Diversity Equity and Inclusion practices covered in the 2022 business books gives guidelines for how to approach hiring and retaining workers who are happy to contribute their talents.
I’m of 2 minds: in Working Assets I advised that an office job is not the only job out there. I told readers to “Think outside the cubicle.”
Yet shouldn’t corporations “get with the program” in how they treat every employee? Enabling all of us to thrive in an office job. Why should we be forced to work elsewhere if we would like to work in an office?
My experience has been that a corporate office environment is not kind to us “beautiful dreamers” who think outside the narrow boxes we’re expected to fit in.
Research proves that companies with multi-racial workers who feel like they belong outperform the competition and skyrocket financially.
Not just the bottom line is what’s important. The wellbeing and financial security of the workers whose bottoms are warming chairs matters more.
Coming up I’m going to write a carnival of blog entries that link what I wrote in Working Assets to the guidelines given in the 2022 business books.
Focusing my lens on workers with mental illnesses.
We belong in a job environment where management recognizes that our individuality will drive innovation and achievement.
The concept of “covering” is one I will examine in detail in my second career book I’d like to publish within two years.
The question is whether someone with an “invisible” disability should be okay hiding in plain sight.
In Working Assets I examine the emotional cost of “living in a closet”–whatever it is you’re closeted in.
My story is out there in my memoir Left of the Dial, in my blogs, and on my author website.
I find it’s less of an issue to have people find out on their own. Rather than telling them outright.
My diagnosis in fact is an open secret. And I’m OK with this because “what you can’t see you can’t be.” My aim is to give others hope for healing.
All along since 2002 when I started my Advocate career I’ve believed that recovery is possible. In the face of being told that no one can recover at all.
What do you think? Have you disclosed and where and when and to whom?
Here’s an interview that my peer colleague Carl Blumenthal did with me about the topics in my career book Working Assets:
Keep Your Eye on the Prize