And I was told I’d get a link to an offer letter that I would sign.
Well, it didn’t happen exactly that way.
Instead of an offer letter, I got five different emails from two different sources, each having between 1 and 4 links for me to follow to forms I needed to fill out.
Some of the forms were quick and easy. I did them on my tablet at lunch yesterday.
Some of the forms were exhaustive. Oh my God, was there a lot of information I had to plug in. On top of it all, my laptop was freezing up, because I had do sort through a whole bunch of past emails and documents to find the details on the exact days when I started and ended jobs, as well as the exact amount I was making. At my last full-time job, the number was not an even amount, and the bonus I was eligible for (max) was also not round number.
Holy crap. Panic. I don’t know why I thought I could escape filling out all that paperwork. Maybe I just forgot what an exhaustive thing it is. Or I figured that since I’m contracting, I would never have to do it again, because they don’t need so-so-much info on you, when you’re marginal.
But I was clearly smokin’ bananas, and last night, starting around 8:15, I commenced on what I thought was a simple task. It ended up being almost a 3-hour project, and I only got done at 11:00 p.m. I triple checked all my information — and I saved a copy of it, dammit. What a pain in the ass.
On the bright side, I now know where to find all the information, and thank God I did actually save it. In the past, I just flitted from job to job and didn’t give it much thought. I could dredge up that info without too much trouble. But my brain isn’t as facile / speedy / nonchalant about details / effortless as it used be, and this was a slog.
Or maybe it’s always been a slog, and I just conveniently forgot. Like people tend to forget horrible, traumatic experiences. Like childbirth. I’ve never done it myself, but I have women friends who swore, immediately after their first one, that they’d never do it again… only to have another child two years later – and do it without hesitation.
Not that I’m comparing filling out employment forms with bringing new life into the world, but you know what I mean.
Anyway, that’s done. I emailed the recruiter about that offer letter, which I suspected I’d missed. I did, after all, completely miss the first email with the massive 10-page form that collected all my vitals, including details on my last three jobs, which I just wanted to put behind me. Clearly, you can’t just discard the past. It follows you everywhere.
Especially when you want to get a new job.
So there it is.
And now I’m holding steady, waiting for the offer letter and confirmation that we’re good to go, so I can get on with the rest of my life. I know how I’m going to play it — I’m going to ask for 4 weeks to get everything squared away, and then set about putting together a “playbook” for transition, to show people how to do the things that I’ve been doing.
It’s not rocket science. The main ingredient is willingness. If people are disengaged and in self-protection mode and unwilling to even try to learn new things and do what’s right… or they’re just plain lazy… then all the preparation in the world won’t help them get it done. But for anyone who is willing to learn and has the right attitude, this can be done.
In any case, staffing is not my responsibility. Making sure there is redundancy is not my responsibility. That’s handled at a completely different level.
My job is to show up and perform. And since I can’t really do that to the extent possible in my present job, I’ll just take my business somewhere else.
Oh, and make a copy of everything I filled out, so if I ever need to do it again, I’ll have the information.
Learning lessons as I go… it’s no good for me to start early-early at work, where there are people around who want to talk about this, that, and the other thing. It’s better if I start my workday at home, and prepare for the day here. If I have to make early morning calls with people, it’s best that I do it from home, rather than the office. That way I’m not distracted, and I can think.
It’s hard to think at the office.
And that really threw me off on Monday, which made it a terrible day I had to recover from. I also had a blowup with my spouse on Monday night, which could have turned out badly. When I’m in a bad space, they love to goad me and push me and keep firing questions at me and demand that I pay attention to them. It’s like they can sense when I’m vulnerable and struggling, and they want to see how far they can stretch me. They just push and push and push, needling and goading and provoking me, because something in them just craves that intensity at the end of the day.
It wakes them up. It’s familiar to them, because of their childhood family history. No evening is complete without a heated argument, when they’re feeling dull and out of it. I know they love the fight for the fight’s sake, because the minute I stop dealing with them and just walk away, they stop what they’re doing. They stop the provocation, they stop the needling, they stop the questions, the pushing, the prodding. And they start bargaining to get me to come back and sit down, have some nice dinner, etc.
It’s almost like my spouse is not even there, when that happens. Something in their brain switches on, and the person they are switches off. It’s become worse, in the past years, and now (thanks to help I’m getting from a counselor and my neuropsych), I can see it for what it is — just some weird-ass neurochemical/biological impulse they have to FIGHT. If I step away or just stop the progression, it’s like magic. They turn into someone completely different.
It really does a number on me. In the aftermath of my meltdowns, my spouse is so calm. They almost seem like they just had a cigarette or a beer — they’re very relaxed. Meanwhile, I’m a friggin’ mess, I feel like crap, and I have to build back my self-confidence again. They get the upper hand. They get to recreate the dynamics of the past. And the old cycle is in place. I don’t even think they realize what they’re doing, so it’s up to me to stop it, myself.
And I stopped myself on Monday night before I got too bent out of shape. I could tell I was getting to the point where I wanted to throw something or hit something (or someone). So, I backed off. I just slammed on the brakes and walked away from the situation. When I walk away, my spouse starts to behave properly again.
So, I’ll have to start doing that, anytime I feel that “rise” starting to come up with me. I’m just walking away to let them calm down and stop provoking me.
Yesterday was better. I took my early calls at home, I got into the office after rush hour traffic, and I had a pretty productive day. It was like pulling teeth at the end of the day, but I got things done, exhaustion and all.
One thing that’s throwing me off is a new coworker who has really been annoying the crap out of me. I’m supposed to be their “buddy” and train them and bring them along in the organization, and they’re not making my job any easier. This individual has a ton of qualifications, certifications, and degrees. They were a teacher in the past, and they like to show off how much they know about ancient history and roleplaying games. They also like to get into a lot of heady discussions about intellectual things, but they don’t have a ton of depth, and some of the things I know a lot about, they’ve never even heard of.
Their overall affect is a little bit arrogant, and while they do know a lot about some things, they don’t know nearly enough to act like they own the place. Actually, their personality would be best suited to teaching middle school or high school, where they will always be ahead of their students. It’s the adults around them, they can’t keep up with.
I feel sorry for them, a little. The rest of the group is not exactly welcoming, which is what I came up against when I first started. But this individual is getting increasingly insecure and posing like they’re an expert, which is causing them to become increasingly annoying. They’re trying like crazy to show that they already know how to do everything, but they’ve only been on the job two weeks. Meanwhile, the rest of the group, who are not at all intellectuals (or don’t fancy themselves to be), are getting irritated at the apparent arrogance.
All that training, all those certifications. All the degrees… And this new person can’t deal with people. Adults, anyway.
On the other hand, seeing them in action has been a learning experience. It’s reinforced a few ideas with me.
First, that I am so glad I did not go into an academic line of work. It’s so annoyingto have to deal with people who are impressed with how smart they think they are. And all the pitter-patter about academic subjects that have nothing to do with anything current or applicable in everyday life… that’s annoying, too.
Second, despite my lack of certifications and qualifications, I can hold my own professionally. No problem. I’m the real deal, and I can get along with just about anybody, I can figure things out, make them right, and I can get the job done. And if I don’t know something, I come to it with beginner’s mind and start from the bottom-up. I tend to overstep and screw up — of course I do. That’s how I learn.
Third, if you want to succeed in life and work, you’ve got to be teachable. For the long run. In every conceivable situation. Not just in the classes you take, but in real life. Each and every day. Ask questions. Stay curious. Don’t get arrogant and think you have it all figured out, because every situation is different, and the people around you won’t appreciate your attitude.
Fourth, resilience matters. All the time. Under any and every circumstance. You’ve got to be able to bounce back — and that’s something I’ve learned how to do, time and time again. You always have another chance, if you give it to yourself.
So, those are the four lessons I’ve learned from dealing with this new person. It’s reinforced things I know about myself, and it’s actually making me feel better about my own abilities and skills. Even if they are a bit like a rock tied ’round my neck, and they’re slowing me down… and they may not last in the job, because our boss is getting irritated with them… at least I’m getting something out of it.
Let this be a lesson to me. Let it all be a lesson to me.
Looking back, looking ahead… As usual, when I start to contemplate a big life change — like career/job, moving, shifting the nature of my relationships, etc — I look back to take stock on where I’ve come from, and I also look ahead to see where I want/need to be.
I have been doing a bit of that, lately, and what really strikes me is just how much my mindset and my cognitive abilities and my overall ability to cope and deal with life have all really improved over the past several years.
When I look back on where I was, only three years ago, and I think back only a year’s time, I’m really amazed to see the difference in how I am handling my life.
I am so much:
better able to calm myself down and not fly off the handle over passing things.
more present and able to participate in life as it comes along.
less anxious – dramatically so.
better at humor than I have been in a long time.
more focused on what I’m supposed to be focusing on.
better able to pace myself and not get stuck in an infinite loop.
All of these things have taken a lot of time for me, and I am profoundly grateful for the progress in my life. I have worked my ass off, I have really pushed myself to do better, to be better, to be honest and allow myself to be humbled by my mistakes and screw-ups. I have made learning from my mistakes a top priority — and there has been no lack of opportunity to do that (fortunately or unfortunately). I have really soldiered through a lot of things that used to throw me
All these things have been central to my recovery, and now as I work my way through the tenth year of my recovery from my last TBI, I can both see and believe that so much more is possible for me. After my fall down those stairs in 2004, my “reset” button got pushed, and I was set back in my career and my relationship about 15 years. In some ways, I had to start from scratch, and I have really had to scrabble to get myself back to even close to where I was, 11 years ago.
Now I’m in that place — in my state of mind and my capabilities. And I can see so clearly now how much more I’m capable of, than I have been allowed to be by my circumstances — because people far junior to me, with far less ability and knowledge and experience, have been setting the pace and controlling the environment. In fact, the whole environment I’m working in now — in my immediate group, the larger organization, and so many of the thousands upon thousands of employees — is far less evolved and far less capable than what I was working in for the 15 years prior to my fall.
My career has been on “training wheels” for the past 7 years, actually, and it’s time to take the wheels off and move on. It’s been a long time coming, and I’ve had to put in a ton of work. But now I can see that I need to move on and get myself in a completely different space, in order to be happy and content in my work.
Now, certainly there’s the immediate environment that’s an issue. On the surface, I would welcome a change. But even more importantly, I need to change my “head space” — my attitude, my demeanor, my approach. I need to step up and really own my expertise, like never before. It’s bad enough to be surrounded by people far, far beneath my skill and experience level. But the thing that’s really done the most damage, is having succumbed to the environment and having carried myself like “one of them” for the past 3-1/2+ years.
I can do better. I can be better. And while I know that moving on from my current job is in the cards, the first step is really moving on from my current mindset, my current ways of interacting with people, my accustomed ways of carrying myself in the workplace with the people I deal with on a regular basis.
I’m better than this, and I need to act that way. I can’t let myself be dragged down by my coworkers to their level, which is embarrassing. They just don’t know how to act in professional situations.
A few examples:
We had a big Division-wide all-hands meeting that was streamed live from the home office overseas, and the Executive VP of the Division was speaking to everyone worldwide, with the camera on him. Behind the EVP, the new head of my group was sitting and talking with their counterpart in another group. Two global managers, who I would expect to behave like adults and show the EVP some respect and pay attention to what he was saying. But no, they were sniggering and whispering behind his back… as the camera recorded them rolling their eyes and giggling.
Another prime example is one of my teammates who has some serious working dynamics issues with their counterparts at the home office. Those counterparts have been with the company a lot longer than they, and they also are natives to the country where the parent corporation is based. So, they clearly out-rank my US coworker, in terms of politics and connections. But my US coworker seems determined to spend all their time trying to spite and outmaneuver the folks overseas, talking about them behind their back within earshot of everyone. And what’s worse, this person puts on a good show, coming across as professional and capable, but under the facade, they’re lazy, don’t show initiative, can’t be bothered to get their hands dirty doing the drudge work that every position has, and they laugh at everyone behind their backs. They’re one way in front of others, and completely different when others aren’t looking.
The most embarrassing thing is that these two exemplars have a lot of visibility and go out of their way to carry on like they have everything squarely under control. The truth is completely opposite. They’re legends in their own minds, and they’re not paying attention to how they are truly perceived by others.
This has been bothering me for months, now — even longer. Neither of these people is someone I care to spend any time with, but I’m stuck working with them as part of my group. Plus, they’re making a ton of money, carrying on as they are, which just rakes me over coals of righteous indignation.
So, rather than let them drag me down and ruin my peace and affect how I feel and conduct myself, I need to just move out of that “space” and maintain my own level of professionalism that stands on its own.
I know that others can see what level I’m at. The fact that I’ve got a lot of very solid relationships with professionals in my organization, who are both in the States and overseas says a lot about my reputation. I’m known as someone who gets things done, and that’s a good thing.
Now I need to really embody that on a daily basis — live it, breathe it, eat-sleep-drink it, and make sure a higher level of professionalism completely permeates all my dealings with people at work. If people I work with can’t respond in kind, then I am positive that I will be able to find another situation where that kind of behavior and demeanor is appreciated and rewarded.
I know there are other places this happens — I’ve worked in them for most of the past 27 years. I’m just not in that kind of environment now.
So, I have my mission — to raise the quality of life in my daily work, to do my job in the way that I want to be doing it, and to build out my resume in ways that will “slot” me into my next position in good shape. I really do have the right stuff. I’ve got what it takes to really go far, and physically, mentally and emotionally, I’m finally in a place where I can make the most of that again.
It’s been a long time coming, that’s for sure. And I realize now that losing sight of my innate professional abilities and behavior was one of the most debilitating aspects of my TBI. I just lost it.
But now I have it back, and I’m going to take my situation to its next logical step in the progression — up, up… and ultimately away.
Well, this is great… not. Our big deadline is today – what we’ve been working towards for many months, now. I was awake early, thinking that I could get to the office early. I will get there a few hours before I usually do, but after getting some exercise and eating my breakfast, I find that the clock has moved more quickly than I thought it was. I’m running a little late.
Part of the issue is that I’m pretty dizzy. So, I’ve had to be more careful and cautious about how I move, this morning. I can’t rush around, I have to pay attention to where I put each foot, how I move each part of my body. And that takes more time than usual. I have to be very deliberate, very mindful, as I move around. And as I slowly navigated my way down the stairs and into the kitchen this morning, I thought about the times years ago when I could just move… without thinking about it and coordinating every move.
Did I have sugar yesterday? Dairy? This feels like dairy vertigo — when I have dairy, I get mucus-y and my ears fill up, and I become very dizzy. I don’t think I had any milk or milk products. I must just be tired. Very tired, in fact. Yep, that’s it. I could use about 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, right now. Not gonna happen till much later today, but a person can dream…
I’ve been pushing hard for weeks, and I’m feeling it for sure. I worked most of the day at home, yesterday, starting around 4:30 a.m. getting things together and all organized. I worked till about 2, then lay down and rested for an hour, then got back up and took care of errands. It’s nuts, and I probably should have gotten more sleep than that hour nap in the afternoon, but again, this is the big deadline. The end of this project. And a bunch of us were online, sorting out last-minute things all day. I was not the only one.
These last minute things have been completely and totally needless, in my estimation. If I think too much about it, I rapidly become irate… even livid… that certain folks on the project dicked around while a number of us were voicing concerns about not having enough time to get everything done in a systematic fashion. But no, certain individuals were busy jacking around, fiddling with this and that and the other thing, rather than staying on point and being focused on what was important.
Like I said, if I think about it too much, it makes me nuts. So, I’m using my noggin and not wasting time getting all tweaked over stupid sh*t I can’t change at this point. We have time to change later. After the obnoxious SOBs who carried on like they knew what the hell they were doing, have paid the dear price and have let these lesson sink in.
That’s assuming, of course, that the lessons will sink in. From what I’ve seen, that might never happen.
Oh, what-ever. I can’t let this experience define me. I can’t let it shade my perception of myself and let it get me down. There are things I did wrong, that have contributed to the last-minute mess. Things I did wrong many months ago, and didn’t fix. Part of this is my own damned fault. And I accept that. I’ll take full responsibility for that. But my name isn’t Patsy, and I’m not taking the fall for this. Not gonna happen.
But all this internal haggling isn’t going to get me anywhere. I’ve got to keep my head above water and keep my spirit and soul intact. I’ve got to focus on the positives and carry myself in the best way possible. People are people, and I’ve been in this business long enough to know that this sort of crap happens all the time. There’s always something. And in response to what’s gone down, I have a multi-point plan that we can follow as a team and as a division, that will not only help prevent these sorts of things from happening, but also make us even better in the long run.
I read recently that sometimes people learn best from hard lessons. Trial and Error Learning (TEL) can work better for some than Errorless Learning (EL). My neuropsych tells me that for some people, EL is the only way they can really learn, and TEL is a recipe for disaster.
We’ll find out today — and in the coming weeks and months — how that’s going to shake out.
For now, I just need to get a move on. The day is waiting.