Wednesday, January 09, 2013
I have been on my weight loss journey for a few months now. I've lost almost 20 pounds, and because I've been doing strength training and cardio exercises for that time, my body shape has changed more than I would have expected or more than it has in the past with a 20 pound weight loss. I have more energy, I feel better about myself and all of the things that I expected to happen. There has been an odd and unexpected consequence as well.
I have worked at the same company for the past 26 years. I am in the software industry and I have always held leadership positions in very technical areas. That's how my brain works. My teams have always given me very positive reviews, and I have steadily, but slowly advanced. I believe that I'm respected and people come to me a lot for advice and to run a lot of the "hard" projects. I have always suspected that my career could have advanced faster if I had "looked" a different way.
In the last 2 weeks I have been offered 3 different career advancing opportunities. All of them from people that I have worked with for all of the 26 years that I've been here. All of them things that I think I am quite qualified for.
The other day I heard a woman on a national TV show say that she felt invisible when she was overweight, and when I started to think about it, I feel like there is a lot of truth to that.
I'm not doing anything differently now. I have always worked very hard. I have always met or exceeded my targets or deadlines. I know that people who work with me think that I do a good job because they tell me that often. I have always gotten above average ratings at the end of the year. It has just been very slow advancement. Almost like when a new opportunity came up, people just didn't think of me. Now it seems like they think of me with every new opportunity.
It's kind of flattering because I'm working hard at my weight loss, but it's also a little bit discouraging. I don't believe that people's career advancement should depend on how they look. Especially in a role where we don't meet with customers, we are mostly writing software, and working within the walls of our buildings.
So all of a sudden, it seems like I'm visible to a lot of folks who worked with me, but just didn't see me.