Around the world in . . . as long as it takes

At a court hearing on Friday, November 9, 2012, I legally changed my name to the one I originally inherited from my father. It had been 36 years, two marriages and two divorces since I’ve had that name. Two questions have been asked of me, related to my name change:

Tomboy Tam in court

Tomboy Tam awaits the judge who will approve her petition for name change.

Why now?

I started thinking about returning to my original name as a new sense of self-identity emerged in the years during and following my second divorce, six years ago. My journey of self-discovery included exploring who I am aside from being a wife, mother, daughter, sister and employee. I assumed some of those roles without much conscious examination of how to perform the roles in the context of me, the individual. For most of my life, I defined “me” by who I was to other people and what they expected of me.

Today, I select and create my relationships and roles based on how well they complement who I am today and how they will grow with me as I continue to evolve. So the short answer is – I want my name to reflect the independently strong, self-centered individual I am today. (Why has the term “self-centered” come to have a negative connotation?!) From a self-centered place, I can receive and give love, friendship and value with integrity and joy.

Have I come full circle?

Someone recently used the term “full circle” to describe my return to my maiden name. However, just as Phileas Fogg returned to London a changed man after the high adventure and life experience of traveling Around the World in Eighty Days, I am not the same person with the same dreams, perceptions and expectations as I was 36 years ago. Thank goodness – because I don’t want to star in my own rendition of the film Groundhog Day!

Changing my name is a symbolic and tangible acknowledgement of who I am today – the result of my own thoughts, intentions and purpose, and all the people and experiences that have helped me evolve to this point. I am grateful for each and every one of them, as each is a thread in the beautiful fabric of my being: soft and strong; adventurous and thoughtful; resilient and vulnerable; resourceful and humble; enterprising and inviting; generously giving and abundantly receiving.

Food for thought:

  • What movie or book title best describes your journey to a positively self-centered way of being? 
  • Have you acknowledged life journey milestones with symbolic or tangible ceremonies or acts? 

Have a great day!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Dear employer: it’s time for your performance review!

It’s a good time for me to make a list of the things I want to receive from my employer or client. I am developing new communications consulting clients and simultaneously exploring a few select “permanent” employment opportunities. Such a list will help my new manager or client and me evaluate whether we are a good fit for each other. Here is my first draft.

What I want to receive from my employer and manager

Reward me with generous, competitive compensation that reflect the type, level and complexity of the work I do and the value I add. Even if the economic environment has impacted your compensation curve, be creative and involve me in negotiation to arrive at a compensation structure that meets both our needs.

Support my career development. Give me increasingly higher visibility projects and more responsibility. Suggest “extra-curricular” activities inside or outside the company that will help me develop. Support my professional association involvement and education. Keep your eyes open for possible advancement opportunities for me elsewhere in the company. Give me formal and informal feedback frequently – no surprises at annual review time! Ask my internal and external customers for input on my performance. Offer me earned raises, promotions and titles before I ask for them.

Walk the talk of trust and integrity. The company’s vision and values establish high standards for ethical behavior, business practices and respect for team members. Company leaders and managers walk the company talk. Believe that I will represent you and our group with integrity. Allow me to work without micromanagement. Give me the credit I deserve for my work, even when I’m not in the room. Recognize me formally and informally for small and large accomplishments.

Offer and expect flexibility – trust me to manage my time and deliverables honestly. Don’t require rigid start and stop times or hours. Support me working from home or other remote location when the job can be accomplished successfully from there.

Respect my personal time. In other words, don’t send me email messages at night and on weekends, as it establishes a culture of never disconnecting from work. Or at least don’t expect me to answer your messages at those times. Support me in taking all the paid time off that I’ve earned. Manage our workload such that work weeks that are more than 40-45 hours are the exception, not the rule.

Nurture a friendly, healthy, FUN culture by caring about my needs, at work and to some extent, my personal life. Communicate as early and as much as you can about company and leadership strategies and changes. Make an effort to ask me how my kids are doing, how I spent my vacation and what sports teams I cheer for. Encourage me to take a lunch break, work out and eat well by setting the model for that behavior. Connect me with my teammates and partners within and outside our group. Lead a little bit of goofing off and laughter to relieve stress, reset perspectives and improve productivity.

In my past experience, interview time or evaluation time is primarily about my skills, experience, scope of responsibilities and how well I performed them. Through my personal growth, I’ve learned that to be a truly outstanding employee, I have to be a happy one. And to be happy, I need my career to support my lifestyle, not the opposite.

  • What is (or will be) on your list of what you want to receive from your employer?
  • Can you see yourself talking to your manager or an interviewer about your list? Why or why not?
  • Do you think I’m crazy to have such a list, when so many people are still desperate for a job – any job? 

Thanks for your feedback!

Love, Tomboy Tam