I celebrated my 5 decades and 9 years in this VUCA world, I am realizing how there were a number of “pushes” I experienced since I started working 32 years ago. Perhaps because I am an introvert – (a product of various factors like lack of confidence, fear of the unknown, not wanting to leave my comfort zone, and the feeling there are others who are more capable than me to take the role) these pushes were more common or necessary. The only time I didn’t need a “push” was when I decided to enter the field of Medicine. It wasn’t my dream to become a great clinician – but to help other people. The phrase “to cure” wasn’t even in my vocabulary at that time.
The three great “pushes” that I experienced varied greatly in terms of the context and humor surrounding the “push”. I will not mention names of my “pushers” to maintain anonymity but I am sure they will know who they are when they read this blog. All I can say to them – thank you very much for the “push”.
- It was husband and wife team of dedicated doctors who devoted their time in public health and community development that “pushed” me to apply to work with an international non-government organization. I knew I wanted to help people because I saw my parents devote their lives to helping others in times of needs, and helping others stand on their feet and live a comfortable life. However, I was very hesitant to apply to this job, not because I didn’t know what kind of work I was going to do or whether I could do it – but mainly because I didn’t have ironed clothes to wear for the interview. I didn’t even have a pair of shoes that were comfortable – all I had was a pair of sneakers that were also dirty. I ended up borrowing my maternal grandfather’s pair of shoes (not for good luck, but for necessity). Somehow, after a series of interviews I reached the final interview stage with the President of the organization. He asked me, “What is your experience in community health work?” My immediate response was “I don’t have one”. Then the President said, “You’re hired!” I didn’t question his decision and I was so happy when I reached home and told my parents and siblings. This job was the door that led to my career in public health and community development.
- I enjoyed working in the field in the Philippines as I met new friends from other organizations. Another “push” happened when my very supportive expatriate manager “pushed” me to apply for a regional role overseas. Their timing could not be worse. I was preparing for a national workshop for the health network when my line manager said the deadline for the application will be the following day. At that time, I had other priorities – I needed to rush to the toilet because I had diarrhea! Even the head of office entered the toilet and asked me “Are you OK?. You look sick”. To add to my stress, two of my friends were already waiting for me so we could carpool home, but I couldn’t leave the toilet! I let them go ahead so I could to talk to my manager. She told me to send her the draft letter of application first thing in the morning so she could review it. I made to the interview –the longest interview process I had in my life so far consisting of three days and a trip overseas. On the first day of interviews, I was late because I didn’t have any clothes to wear. Sound familiar? Because my flight was delayed, my luggage was left behind and would only arrive in the next two hours. The interview panel was waiting for me because I didn’t have clothes to wear. If only the interview was in a beach setting, I could have easily done it! But, in the end, I got my luggage and I got the job!
- Have you ever experienced sitting on your office chair with wheels, and all of a sudden your line manager is pushing you to his room to fill in a draft job application form? Yes, he started writing a job application for me to apply for another job! It was half past five on a Friday afternoon and half of the people in the office already left for home for their TGIF event. Yet here I am, literally being “pushed” to complete and send in an application form. It wasn’t even just my line manager who was in the room, but also the boss of my line manager – double push! This time, how I could I resist? At that time, my goal was just to complete the application letter and go home. I ended up getting the job and it was my “push” to leave the country.
Those are just some of the gentle, inspiring, and sometimes unexpected pushes that I experienced in the working world. My “pushers” are people with big hearts! People who bring out the best in their staff. This blog is truly dedicated to them. I am humbled and grateful.