I was brainstorming for a new company name with my brother and Dad; and feeling the need to come up with "good" names. I was the one producing nearly all the suggestions. After a small number of names, I stalled. I was feeling the strain of getting it right and not appearing stupid.
My office environment was one where the senior members of the team had a voice and a valued opinion and members further down the line were invisible. Actually, those of us in the engine room of the company knew much more about how effectively the business was working and could have offered great insight.
Working in social services, particularly with children, can feel like you're under siege from all sides. Job security is a concern, particularly in the current climate; the media attacks social workers (damned if you do and damned if you don't).
Why do I feel like an outsider? I'm gay - and despite all of the progress in society - I am still worried that this will impact how I'm viewed at work. That said, this is the first organisation in which I've been properly 'out' and I feel generally accepted. But I still have that horrible feeling that people will see me as an outsider.
Although it was early on in my career, the memory of her suffering has stayed with me. When I was a junior, I had a more senior colleague who was really struggling with her role. It wasn't that she was particularly bad at it, but we were all being micromanaged into irrelevance and, for her, it built up and up until it was too much.
We were running a leadership programme for a group of senior project managers for a global company. As part of a one-week programme, we had a half-day session with a poet around the importance of the need to have what he termed "courageous conversations" with the different aspects of your life.
As a man, crying over my work was never something I imagined myself doing. But I shocked myself one day when I walked in to the kitchen after work and, as soon as I saw my wife, just burst in to tears. I'd been working really hard on a project and hadn't realised how much emotional energy and (dare I say it) love I had invested in my team. I'd been wrongly accused of something by a colleague, who'd spun it so as to play to my boss's insecurities.
We're told the men negotiate better than women. Am I doing OK?! Negotiating terms and conditions is tricky and something which I am worried about doing. However, I want to fight my corner and argue for the best possible settlement - we are always told that men do this better than women which puts me under additional pressure and worry that the men in my office/my male peers have a better deal.
My boss said I couldn't have both children and a promotion. Despite having a supportive wife at home looking after my kids I had a boss who, in my performance review, told me that although I operated at a level perhaps two layers more senior than I was he didn't see why I should have both the career and the family: he (from his perspective) had been asked to sacrifice having a family during his thirties for his career. So why should other people not?