Iesha Small

writing, career pivots, side hustles

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A question of values

Recently a friend handed in her notice with no job to go to. One of my closest friends did something similar two years ago.  Both had recently been promoted at a new school. A few years ago I was signed off work having had a breakdown and made the decision that I would never work in that school again whether I had secured a job or not. I, too, was set to hand my notice in. At that point we had a mortgage and a toddler and could not have met our commitments as a family without my salary.

Luckily, I found a new job and started a different phase of my life but what makes a person get to that point?

Recently, I attended an excellent workshop run by David McQueen – Success on Your Own Terms. I’m at a bit of a crossroads with some of my creative work outside of school and wanted to refocus.

At one point David asked us to list our top three values, with no filter and without overthinking.

Mine were

  • Integrity
  • Curiosity
  • Love/family
  • Development

Ok so that’s four, but you get the idea.

Then he asked us to list the top three values of the organisations that we work for.  There was some laughter in the room.  A few people struggled because they weren’t too sure what those were. A telling question from the floor was, “Do you mean what we say they are or what they actually are in practice?”

So what makes a person hand in their notice for a job that they have fought hard to get with no immediately obvious means to support themselves and their dependants? Values. It was becoming clear my values did not match the day to day values of my organisation, as evidenced by what I was asked to do and how my manager interacted with me, and it was seriously affecting my health and happiness.

What are your top three values?

Do they match the day-to-day practice of the organisation that you currently work for?

If not, what steps can you take to bridge the gulf?

Illustration copyright of  Robert Price

Copyright of Robert Price


  • bethben92

    5th July 2015 at 7:37 pm → Reply

    This is something I am struggling with at the moment. I can’t go into specifics, obviously, but my values are being seriously challenged along with those of other staff. Your words have resonated with me and I am at a point where I know I need to make a decision before I go under. We are working to get to the bottom of the issues but I personally don’t think anything will change enough for me to regain trust and be able to fully enjoy my work as I used to. I love my school but not enough to risk my health or happiness.

    • ieshasmall

      9th February 2016 at 6:11 pm → Reply

      This is a tough one. I’m replying a little late to this but hope you have resolved it now. Hopefully it can be worked out in house but if not then ultimately working in a diff environment may help. I know a few people recently who have made that tough decision but ultimately been better off for it.

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A question of values