Last week while my family visited the zoo, I paused for awhile before snapping this guy’s picture. It was funny how a well-concealed critter like this reminded me of a work conversation I had more than 15 years ago, but he took me right back to that moment.

My teammate and I were concerned about some leadership changes that had occurred, and things felt very unstable in the building. Long story short- the new people in charge were pretty volatile. It was a yell first, ask questions later culture.

We decided that our goal for surviving the rest of the year was to be beige.  We both just wanted to do our job and continue doing so to the very best of our ability. But, more importantly, we wanted to stay off the radar and go un-noticed in any and every way. 

My little zoo friend shown above never moved or blinked while I stood there watching him. 

I remembered how that felt, and as I thought about it, I realized I was glad my beige year didn’t turn into a beige career.  We outlasted the bad behavior. 

Looking back at those two young teachers that we were, I am proud of us for not giving in to the toxicity. We put our heads down and survived, but we didn’t make things worse, and while we let it temporarily subdue us, it didn’t change us or our values.