Things have not been turning out the way I expected or planned, lately. Sometimes it’s been disappointing. But I’ve been making the best of things.
I bought some flowers the other night for my spouse.
Turns out they’re allergic to them.
Those flowers are now upstairs in my study, on the desk beside me.
I went out and bought a fresh bunch last night — ones I know they’re not allergic to.
Those flowers are downstairs on the entertainment center. They’re beautiful and they actually look better than the first bunch I got.
So, that’s nice.
I thought I was going to go to the beach at a local lake, a few days ago. I used to swim in that lake regularly, and I’ve been missing it. I took the day off work when the weather was perfect. I had everything planned. I’d swim, and then I’d sit in the sun and dry off and read a book I brought with me.
But when I got there, there were signs telling me I could not swim because of bacteria levels. It’s been dry here. The lake was low — scary low — and I didn’t want to take a chance.
Instead of swimming, I walked around the lake, found a sunny spot, and sat in the sun reading.
And it was nice.
Even if I didn’t swim.
Today, I’m considering telling my boss I want to be considered for a different position. One of the members of my team is leaving, and it would be a great opportunity for me to step into. I’m weighing the pros and cons, thinking about what I’d gain, and what I’d lose. In my current position, I have plenty of freedom and autonomy. I can pretty much do as I please, so long as I show results.
I’m concerned that the other position will have more responsibility, more limitations, more interactions with people I don’t care to interact with. There’s definitely more stress.
I don’t know if it’s worth it.
But I’ll never find out, if I don’t give it a shot.
Trial and error. Maybe I’ll just go for it, and see what happens.
It’s been said that people take a job for the company and leave because of management. They join up because of the company reputation and all that being part of that team promises… and then they decide to leave because their boss is a nightmare.
With me, it is kind of the opposite.
Oh, to be sure, I have had my differences with management. But the real reason for my leaving is because of the company itself. The way things are done, the way decisions are made, the way people are hired and fired and promoted and demoted and paid and given (or denied) bonuses… it’s just ridiculous, looking at it from an American standpoint.
The company is based overseas, and the way they do things is fine by their standards. It works for them, within their own cultural framework. But it’s not up to my standards, and I’m not about to change what works for me and my undertakings — and has worked for 25+ years — because the overlords are in love with themselves and want to prove how fabulous they are.
Heaven help us.
Actually, heaven help the people I’m leaving behind.
Because I am out of there soon enough.
And I know why.
It’s not personal, it’s professional.
It’s not because everything is horrific, but because there is something much better for me.
It’s not because I think it will solve other people’s problems (that will never happen)… it’s because this will solve some of my problems and make it easier for me to deal effectively with other people’s problems.
I’m working through all my reasons for moving on, this weekend, so that when I sit down to talk to folks tomorrow, I will be clear and confident. I am doing my training this weekend, then I am going to trust my training tomorrow and just let things flow.
My focus is this: To not get all worked up. To not get all emotional. To not allow them to stonewall or bully me or get me upset, which is something they are pretty good at doing. I have some strategies in my back pocket to use — like making sure that HR is involved in every discussion I have with the uber-boss, who is a bully and has a bad habit of saying one thing to one person and something quite different to someone else, and doing it in a very threatening way.
Come to think of it, I’m going to make sure HR is involved in discussions I have with my immediate manager, as well, because they have a bad habit of saying one thing to one person, and then saying something completely different to someone else. And they love to say things that upset other people, because it gives them a psychological edge.
I’m not going to have any private conversations with anyone who’s proven themselves untrustworthy. That’s a given.
Obviously, I need to give notice in person to my immediate manager, but after that, HR is going to be involved. No behind the scenes operating. No testing my limits. None of that. I’m going to spare us all the conflict and drama around mixed messages and maneuvers, and keep it clean and clear.
As much as possible.
So, for today, clarity is the top priority. Clarity and calm. I’ll be writing things down and thinking about things throughout the day today, always with a mind towards keeping things clear and clean. And making this transition out of my old job to new one as smooth as humanly possible.
I’ve learned a ton of things over the years, all of which I can put to good use tomorrow and for the next two weeks.
Knowing that — and knowing why I’m leaving — and being able to communicate that clearly and calmly … that’s half the battle, right there.
Okay, now I know I am tweaked and nervous about my upcoming job change. Firefox has just updated their browser style / interface, and I am freaking out on the inside. I try to stay calm and take things as they come, but this is yet another change I was not expecting, and as good and fine as it might be, it’s still pissing me off.
Why does everyonehave to changeeverything…all the time?!
I mean, c’mon people – we don’t always have to have the best and brightest and newest and improved-est thingamajiggie on the face of the planet. Some continuity might be nice. Some of the old stuff still works fine, and we stick with it, regardless of your “Upgrade Now to Get What’s New!” prodding. I still like Windows XP — it just works. I still prefer music on CDs — the sound is better and richer than MP3s. I and many others still love classic Coke… in classic style glass bottles. People actually LIKE having some things stay the same, and from where I’m sitting, Firefox was working just fine, the way it was before.
Okay, so maybe there are additional enhancements that took place behind the scenes that I don’t know about. Maybe this new look is more “modern”, and it makes all the magpie-minded hummingbird-memory-span teenagers of the world take Firefox more seriously, but is that who should really make the decisions about what works and what doesn’t? Heaven help us.
Anyway, enough of my rant. I am stressed, because of the crazy movies I’m playing in my own head about giving notice tomorrow. I am really doing a number on myself, and it’s got to stop. I need my strength for tomorrow — to be calm and centered and confident, and have a plan that will show the way forward in the transition time. I need my strength for the next two weeks — and beyond — so I can navigate this change and do it well.
There are going to be a LOT of people who are extremely put out because I’m leaving, including some who consider me a mentor and an advocate for them. In fact, I AM a mentor and advocate for them, and when I am gone, who will be on their side? A lot of folks are going to be going through a lot of grieving emotions, so I’ve got to stay strong, keep my strength up, keep my head on straight, and steer a direct course through the storms to get through this transition time in a calm and centered manner.
The good/bad part about this, is that there are folks whose future success depends on my performance. And now I am leaving. At a very critical time. But that will never change. Folks are locked into a continuous cycle of perpetual agitation and upgrades and improvements and radical changes that require everyone to be ON … all the time. If I use my current status as a reason to stay, I will never, ever have a chance to move on. Because my situation will never be any different. At all.
I’m not the one who decided to have only one person in charge of any given critical function in the organization. It makes for a lot of personal power, but it’s not very practical. I don’t want to be part of an organization that depends so heavily on the “Army of One” mentality, where one person handles everything in one specific “sector”. It’s actually an organizational issue — there are multiple instances where the company has only one person (manually) doing a job that is critical to the business, but nobody thinks of adding staff. The company is more geared towards individual wishes and whims and consolidating personal power and influence, than collective success.
That’s a recipe for disaster, from where I’m sitting.
So, there’s really nothing I can do to save them from themselves. I’ve never been able to do that — though I’ve tried. God knows, I’ve tried.
Anyway, eventually I will calm down about the Firefox change. In my experience and observation, it’s still the best browser around.
IE is a horror and has been slammed by many security experts, including the Department of Homeland Security. There are so many things wrong with Internet Explorer, I don’t have room to list them all here.
Chrome is all very sexy and whatnot, but it eats up so much memory on the system. Every time you open a new tab, it adds a process to what the computer is doing behind the scenes, rapidly eating up memory. It’s a system resources hog. And all the “intuitive” Chrome features are … well… not. Plus, it can be hard to customize. It’s fine, if you’re a web developer — it has a lot of features you need when you’re building websites and apps, especially mobile apps. It’s great for that. Then again, Safari is even better, so I’m not sure why Chrome is so beloved — perhaps for the same reasons GoDaddy is beloved. Awful product with real limitations, but the sheer force of numbers of people who don’t know anything better, who are suckers for a good marketing campaign, and who just do what everyone else is doing has made them into pet favorites.
That’s fine. It’s actually always been that way. The mob has typically ruled, and decisions in the market-driven world are dictated by sheer mob numbers. I’ve never been an integral, integrated part of the mainstream world, I’ve never listened to the mob, and I’ve always been on the outside a bit, so there are a lot of things that I’ve disagreed with over the course of the past 48+ years.
And I’ve always had difficulty with change, which is ironic, because very little has ever staid steady in my life. I’ve changed schools and classmates many times, I’ve moved around a lot, I’ve had a bunch of different jobs (close to 20 employers, total, over the past 25 years), and people and situations have come and gone from my life like a cosmic revolving door. I’ve also had to adjust to a bunch of TBIs in my life, and there’s no change like a brain change to make your life more interesting.
So, one would think I have gotten the hang of it by now.
At least, I would.
And in fact, maybe I do have the hang of it, but I’m just in this old, outdated mindset that tells me I still have a problem with change. Yes, I am sad to see things change. Yes, I am sad to be leaving a lot of people whom I’ve worked with very closely and very productively over the past four years. Yes, I’m concerned about what this might mean for my future prospects, and I’m concerned about backlash at work and possible retribution by people who are upset.
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to do a bad job handling this change. Being uncomfortable and nervous doesn’t mean that I’m not capable of making the switch. No matter how good the circumstances, there would never ever be a good time for me to go, or conditions where everyone around me would be fine with me leaving — unless, of course, I was doing a truly shitty job. And I would never willingly let that happen.
So actually, now that I think about it, the fact that this is so hard, is a sign that I’m doing something right. It means that I am a top performer, and I am a valued and trusted member of the team (at least, I’m trusted for now). It doesn’t mean that I’m doing something wrong — on the contrary, it means that I’m doing something right. And in fact, it’s time for me to do something right for myself, not only for the company.
I really have sacrificed a great deal for this company over the years. In the start, it was worth it to me, because there were benefits and payoffs, and I had very little to do with people on the other side of the world who had their own ideas about how things should be done. But over the past year and a half, things have gone rapidly downhill, and things seem pretty much unredeemable to me. If they were redeemable, I’d hang in there.
But now I have an opportunity to go somewhere else. Somewhere better — in significant ways. I know there will be some things that will be the same, or worse, but at least I’ll be doing it only 20 minutes from home, with ample time in the mornings and evenings to catch up with myself. So, whatever foolishness happens at work — and there usually is a lot of foolishness, since people work there — having the extra time to rest and relax and have some time to do other things for myself, will go a long way towards buffering all that.
I’m still feeling conflicted about leaving, as you can tell… talking myself through what I already know to be true. I just need to settle my mind, and calm myself down. Do some measured deep breathing… and trust my own judgment. Not get set off by all manner of distractions, settle into a “trusting mindset” like pro athletes and top performers do, when they are facing an extreme challenge, and rely on my inner resources to guide me through.
Overthinking this is not helping. It’s tweaking me even more than need be. Things are probably going to be pretty challenging for the next couple of weeks, so I’ll just have to settle in and do my best under the circumstances, not drive myself crazy trying to solve everyone else’s problems, and make what recommendations I can, to move things forward after I am long gone.
Once I start this process moving, and things are rolling right along, I’m sure I’ll hit my stride. As is often the case, the anticipation is even worse than the real thing. So who can say whatwill happen?
Just gotta stay positive, focus on what IS, instead of what movie is playing inside people’s heads. And be smart. Use my noggin.
Calm down. The new Firefox isn’t so bad, after all.
So, things are shaken up a bit at work. I have been moved up in the hierarchy by new folks who have no reason to fear or distrust me. Now, I just need to prove their trust is worth it. I don’t want to be cocky, but I’m sure this is going to work out well. I just need to be mindful and chill about things, and not let all the head games get to me.
Other people in my group, including my former boss (who is no longer my boss, praise be) are jockeying for position and subtly undermining others to shore up their own positions. Needless. All we need to do is really promote each other, find our places, and just do all the jobs we’re given to the best of our abilities. There’s no need to be undermining each other and operating behind each others’ backs.
Some people will chose to do that, of course, but I just can’t be bothered. I have so much on my plate, now, I need to focus on my own work and just do my thing. I can’t worry about what others are doing. Frankly, they’ll probably hang themselves with all the rope they’ve been given.
And things will shake out as they will. Some will win, others will be phased out, and others will move on of their own accord.
As for me, this is going to be a really challenging year. I’ve now got some people reporting directly to me, which is a change from having 10 people reporting indirectly to me (sort of “dotted line”). I may “get” 6 more dotted-line reports, but we’ll see. A lot will depend on my performance over the next six months.
So, it’s time to step things up a bit… Get myself in a real groove, take care of my health, get plenty of rest, keep my wits about me, and not let myself go off the rails. I have some travel coming up, which will be a challenge, and it may really test me. But I can’t let it throw me off. I need to just step up and get into it, rather than holding back.
Right before things were 100% finalized, I was getting a bit freaked out, mainly because my spouse has been having health issues, and there is no one else they have to assist them when I am traveling. They are really upset at the prospect of me traveling more frequently over the coming year, and their intense emotional storms about changes (even if they are good changes) hangs over my head, poisoning the whole experience for me. It’s like I can’t even enjoy my new promotion, because they are so desperately afraid of change. I end up spending so much time trying to calm them down and reassure them, I can’t even enjoy my moment.
So, after 24 hours of being anxious and dreading their tirades and outbursts (which did happen, but not as explosively as they have in the past), I decided that if I’m going to do this thing and step up to the promotion and improve my standing in the world, I’m just going to do it. I’m going to just enjoy myself and make the most of the opportunity and get as much out of it as I can. I have passed up opportunities to advance in the past, because of my trepidation and pressure from my spouse to not change things too much, and my career has suffered for it.
That’s no good. I can’t let my spouse limit my possibilities. As much as I love them and am devoted to them, I can’t let their fears and insecurities and anxieties become my own. That’s just toxic. So, I’m going to actively manage my situation at home, by having a plan in place, sticking with it, taking steps to strengthen myself and also support them, and really let them know that I support and love and am committed to them. Heck, we might even take a foreign language class together, so they can feel part of my new life and new career direction. Just so they don’t feel so left out and abandoned, as my career takes off.
The thing is, their career is really taking off, too. It has been, for the past couple of years. And I have been 100% supportive — 500%, in fact. I have gone above and beyond to help and support their career — making sure they have everything they need to move up, giving them space to travel and experience new things, giving them room to grow personally and professionally, and really bending over backwards to help them along.
Now it’s my turn. I have an incredible opportunity ahead of me, and it’s just getting better.
So, it’s time to step up and forget about the comfort zone. Get on with it, and see what can be done in this new world. Live a bit closer to the edge… but not so close that I lose my balance and fall off. Realize this is a greater challenge, and I’m going to need to step things up a bit… but that I’ll be able to do it. I have a lot to learn… and I’m looking forward to it.
So, I’ve got this new perspective on things, and I’ve got this new role at work, which is expanded and far better than what I was doing before… and all the while I know that it is not what I truly want to be doing, over the long term. I also know that it actually puts me at a disadvantage to focus 100% on this role and make it my long-term choice, because I do not have a college degree (I attended for four years, but ran out of money and hit a rough patch, and I could never afford to carve out the time to go back to school. I had too many health / TBI / learning issues, and I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants, from the time I hit the workaday world. So, no college degree — and there’s probably never going to be one, unless I become magically independently wealthy and can take time out of my life to do the coursework.
Yeah, not much likelihood of that happening anytime soon. I’m pushing 50. Maybe after I retire — at age 85 — I’ll have the time.
Anyway, what this means, realistically speaking, is that for the type of leadership work I am going to be going into (that is, being in charge of getting people on board and ensuring they deliver on what they’ve promised), if you want to progress in any organization — especially a global one — you must have a degree — if not several. You can’t just get by with “equivalent experience” — in order to play at the top levels, you have to possess that piece of paper… preferably several, most of them advanced degrees… in order to move up.
So, while it’s all very well and good that I’m in this high profile leadership position in the new organization, I have to be realistic and expect that it will not be long-lived. So, I have to stay fresh and current in the cutting-edge areas that don’t yet have a lot of coursework associated with them. And I have to keep building my portfolio of products I’ve helped create, so that I have something to show for all my work.
That is the one area where I am well-appointed — an actual track record of things I’ve produced and helped to build.
Now I just need to get them all together.
And I shall — especially because the most beautiful part of this whole portfolio building process is that I will be using the technologies I am seeking to perfect — so I will get more bang for the buck — a double-whammy of “how you like me now?” that speaks for itself, even where my educational background falls down.
Yes, this is good. I am in a good position at work… and I am in full possession of the realization that this will not last forever, and the bubble will eventually burst. Heck, it could burst in a year, when they re-org us again. Or it could happen sooner.
Bottom line is, I can’t waste time and rest on my laurels. That would be a terrible mistake.
So, I’m getting inventive and taking initiative. I’m training myself and using what I’m learning, not only in my daily job, but also in my side activities. And it’s good. It’s really, really good. For three reasons:
It is keeping me current with emerging and highly popular and in-demand (and lucrative) technological skills.
It is giving me a safety net of skills I can fall back on, if/when the current managerial/leadership position ceases to pan out.
It is helping me get my brain back to where I want it to be, learning-wise, so I can not only know how best to learn, but I can also know that I can trust my brain again.
These are three incredibly important aspects of my life that — more than any amount of money — are the true “safety net” of my life.
Fund of marketable knowledge and skills
Confidence in my ability to learn and adapt
I let these things slide before, when I got comfortable and over-confident… and never imagined that a fall down some stairs would derail me this severely. I made that mistake repeatedly over the past years, when I figured I was “good” where I was, and if I just kept doing what I was doing, everything would be fine. I was wrong – so very, very wrong. And I have a lot of ground to make up.
I’m not making that same mistake again. This is a new day for me, a new world. A new life.
So, that being said, I’m going to get on with my day, learn some things, and make the most of this day off, before I go back into the fray.
Okay, the flu is subsiding, and along with it goes my regret over not pushing myself harder to do everything I’m “supposed” to do… as well as my interest in the flu vaccine and my appreciation of Tamiflu. A reader tipped me off to aluminum being used as an “immune agonist” (something that triggers your immune system to go into overdrive) in the flu vaccine, which would not bode well for someone who is already dealing with enough brain complications. Like I need to add a direct shot of aluminum to the mix… not. The other thing about these immune agonists is that they can blast your system and get it stuck in high gear, like a runaway Prius, essentially making you artificially sick for longer than you would otherwise be.
It’s interesting, that the whole concept of vaccines triggering the immune system is sacrosanct and unassailable by the mainstream medical establishment, while homeopathy, which operates on the same basis — except in much smaller, individual ways — is persona non grata in mainstream medical circles. I’m not advocating homeopathy, by any stretch — sometimes it works for me, most of the time it doesn’t. I’m just saying there’s a curious inconsistency there.
My fever is down to normal again. It’s been in the normal range since yesterday, with a slight rise past 99 yesterday afternoon and evening. This morning I am normal. I am still coughing up mucus, and I am still weak and get worn out after going up and down the stairs just once, but I am definitely on the mend. That being said, I’m discontinuing the Tamiflu, after reading about what’s in it. It’s only supposed to work for the first 36 hours, anyway, and I’m past that point, so I’m stopping it – even though common wisdom is that you need to finish everything you start. Personally, I’d rather deal with the rest of this with sleep and fluids and not eating a bunch of crap (not to mention airing out my room frequently, changing my bedding, and bathing often to wash the infection off me) than be dependent on something like Tamiflu.
Of course, I’m all spunky now — but where was I just 48 hours ago? Pretty much of a simpering hunk of bones.
But it happens. To the best of us. The main thing is what comes out of it in the end.
What’s coming out of this for me is a renewed vision of where I’m headed with my work, my career. After all the meetings with the New Boss last week, I had a lot to think about. And the bottom line is, they keep changing their mind. One minute I hear, I’m going to be earmarked for a top slot with people who report to me. Then I’m told that I’m going to basically be the organization’s Blue Heeler, running around and nipping at the heels of all the people who don’t want to cooperate. Then I hear that I’m going to be doing something else. It doesn’t inspire much confidence. Being flexible is fine. Being flaky is not. And I just don’t have time to get dicked around by people who either don’t know what they want, or aren’t strong enough to stand up to bullies. Being bullied by one or two people is bad enough, but the whole organization? No thanks.
So, back to my original plan… beef up my skills and keep moving. I’m getting a little sick of being pulled this way and that, so I’m just going to keep with my own blueprint and take it from there. I’m going to use this opportunity as best I can, learn what I can from it, and in the meantime use my dissatisfaction as motivation to make my own progress and improve my own lot. It’s nice to think I can rely on others and trust them, but now I have seen how very un-strong they are, how easily pushed they are from this to that direction, and there is just no way I am taking my lead from people who are that weak and un-grounded.
It’s like that “crack the whip” game we used to play when we were kids — when the person at the head of the line gets “cracked”, the people at the end get whipped around.
Yeah, no thanks.
So, it’s all evolving. I can’t get down on myself for having thought I could make something of this new opportunity. I wanted to at least give it a chance and see if it could work. Maybe I could make it work, but it means: more time away from home, more time traveling, more time commuting, less time to actually do my work, less time for the things I want to do with myself… not to mention more of the kind of work that I just don’t like to do — politics, organizational navigation, all that… through an organization that treats me like a second-class citizen because I’m not at HQ. After all the years that I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing, I just can’t see the point.
So, for now, it’s where I am… but for the long-term, I want something different. That something different will have to wait until after I’m better, though. Right now, it’s about all I can do, to get clear in my head about what direction I want my life to go. So, I’ll watch another samurai movie, have some chicken soup, and get some more sleep.
What will be, will be. But something that goes against everything I want for my life, doesn’t have to “be” forever.
A few weeks back, I saw the first half of the movie “Memento” starring Guy Pearce, who has no short-term memory and has to keep writing notes to remind himself of things. It seemed eerily familiar to me, although I wondered about him actually remembering what the notes really meant. I didn’t get a chance to see how the movie ended — it was a bit of a challenge for me to follow. I think it’s one of those things you have to have a good memory to enjoy — keeping track of who did what and all the different pieces of it was pretty challenging for me, and I wasn’t following as well as I wanted to.
The movie was actually pretty difficult work for me, but I stuck with it as long as I could.
Anyway, I had my second round of neuropsych testing yesterday afternoon, and I thought it went pretty well. Then again, that’s what I thought the first time around … we’ll find out. A lot has been going on with me — the uber-boss from hell has given notice and will be gone from the company in another week. Praise be. Now maybe I can actually do my friggin’ job, instead of constantly dealing with their interference, undermining, and trash talking. There is hope, and now I need to do a reset on my attitude about work. Because I realize that a lot of the pain and suffering that this job has held for me, has been due to this uber-boss’es interference… along with the undermining and generally unprofessional demeanor of other coworkers and management types who are not on the same page as me (or the parent company), and who have been pretty poorly behaved over the past two years, if I say so myself.
I could go on, but why waste the time?
Anyway, now is the time when I need to reset my attitude and see if I can rekindle that original excitement I felt at joining the company 2-1/2 years ago. Once upon a time, I really felt like everything was wide open and possible… then the sabotage by my managers started, the bad behavior kicked in, and half my battles turned out to be fighting upper management about he right thing to do. I don’t doubt for a moment that there will be new fights and new struggles with the Overlords in the future, but these will be different ones, and at least I won’t have to fight them on a daily basis right in my own back yard. If anything, the battles I’ll be fighting could bring me closer together with others who are struggling with the same issues — which will be good for individual connections, even if it doesn’t do much for the overall spirit of the place.
The company is changing dramatically from being a mid-sized (under 1,000 employees) to being part of a major multinational corporation (over 10,000 employees), and it’s not going to be easy for a lot of folks. For me, it’s very familiar. I’ve done this a number of times, and I am accustomed to the shenanigans.
So, now is the time to remember my old coping mechanisms and rekindle that old sense of hope I once had, before things became so clear to me.
It’s interesting – in my testing yesterday, I found some things easy and some things difficult. Who can say which ones really WERE easy or difficult for me? I will find out when the testing results come back. I also have a “backlog” of personal and professional issues to discuss with my NP – I can really use their feedback on some things, to get a reality check. It’s interesting that out of all my friends and family, they seem to have the only truly independent view of the things I tell them, without an agenda other than helping me think through things logically and with common sense. They also recognize the neurological issues that get in my way, so while others fan my indignation into hot, raging flames, they talk me back from that edge and get me using the more sensible parts of my brain to work through it all.
Now, I just need to remember what to discuss with them.
Which is what I’m doing this weekend. I have made a list of the things I’m dealing with these days. I just started the list, and there are 12 “biggies” right off the bat that come to mind. That’s not even the little everyday crap that is getting to me, like my not being able to complete tasks on time, and my failure to follow through on important things at work. I am thinking that once management changes, and I am out from under the uber-boss’es sabotaging influence, things will loosen up for me a bit. I have a good rapport with the “overlords” thus far, and I think we’re going to continue to work well together. I have a lot of great “street cred” in other parts of the company, so there are a lot of people on my side, which is always good.
But good or not, it’s still additional stress. It’s still additional energy I have to put into things. And the additional things are personal as well as professional. I need to really focus in on keeping rested and taking good care of myself. I haven’t done such a great job of that, in the past months — I’m sure at least in part because of all the stresses at work, and wondering if there is really any future for me, under the current regime. Well, news flash – the current regime is going away, and it’s being replaced by something else. And in the end, sticking things out and letting the chips fall as they will, is probably the best strategy I could have in a situation like this.
Sticking things out, having endurance. And of course getting good rest, eating right, and getting good exercise as well.
It all fits together. I still pretty much hate my commute. I still don’t see a long-term future at this job. And who knows if the new boss will be any better than the old boss? … I hear that “Who” song playing in the background… “meet the new boss… same as the old boss…”
But at the very least, I’ll get some relief from that uber-boss who is disrespectful, obnoxious, cryptic, and always has to be the smartest person in the room… or else.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my job strategies for the coming year. Even though it’s been some years since my latest head injury, I still have yet to fully adjust my career approach to this reality. But since getting confirmation from my neuropsych that all is in fact not perfectly well with me, cognitively speaking, I’ve been literally forced to look at the decisions I’ve made with regard to work — and with regard to the work I’m considering doing — so that I don’t get myself into hot water that has me end up like a frog in progressively hotter water… never fully aware that the water around me is heating up, until I’m drawing my proverbial last gasps in a boiling cauldron.
I’ve always been a pretty vain person, professionally speaking. Academically, I always knew I could do better than I did. At least, I was convinced I could… I just didn’t “feel like it,” I told myself. In most things in life, where I encountered difficulties that I didn’t fully understand, I often told myself that I just wasn’t succeeding because I wasn’t fully applying myself, and I wasn’t fully applying myself because things were boring or I just didn’t feel like doing more than the bare minimum.
Looking back now, I can see that I often covered up my confusion and disabilities and difficulties at following what was going on around me, by making lame excuses that weren’t even true. And I realize that over the past four years since my most recent TBI, I’ve essentially done the same thing: told myself that I was consciously choosing to not learn the things I need to learn to stay employable, because they were “beneath” me, or they weren’t challenging enough to hold my attention, or I just had other things to do, than apply myself to mastering them.
But these days, I can see that not only is this not true — I do have trouble with learning in ways that used to come easily to me — but I need to fully own up to the fact that I have newfound limitations that have substantially changed the way I learn, the way I retain information, the way I relate to the world around me, and the way I go about starting tasks. I have to admit that my skills, sharp as they are, still move more slowly than they used to. And I take longer to grasp certain concepts that used to come quickly to me. I can no longer acquire information the way I used to: starting at the beginning of a book and reading through to the end and remembering everything I read, the whole way through. Now, I have to use other strategies to retain the information, and in fact I need to develop new strategies to even get started reading and learning the information. Forget retention. It’s the initiation that stumps me, these days.
I also need to realize that I cannot assume that just because I have my heart set on making certain “advances” in my career path, that it will work out for me. Things like managing other people and being able to navigate complex political organizational landscapes, are now not only annoying and frustrating to me — my diminished ability to deal with their complexities — can actually jeopardize my career path, even my job. Things that used to just irritate me or even roll off my back now send me halfway ’round the globe in a fit of frustration and anger. I not only have a harder time dealing with things like communication and temporary setbacks, but I also have a hard time dealing with my inability to deal with them. All too easily and quickly, I slip into a downward spiral of raised hackles, raised voice, and hot temper. Not good, if you’re in management, I’d say.
So, I need to rethink my career path and reorient myself towards the way I learn, the way I work, the way I get through my days.
Am I making sense? I hope so. But here are some examples, in case you’re as confused as I may be:
Old Way of Learning
1. Decide I want to learn something, just ’cause it sounds cool.
2. Pick up a book and read it through, using a highlighter to call out key concepts.
3. Now and then sit down at a computer and tap away at some exercises. Get the general gist of the new material.
4. Trust that I “get it” and start using what I’ve learned in the everyday.
New Way of Learning
1. Find out what skillsets are important and make me marketable. Pick one or two that I want to focus on.
2. Go online and find articles about the skill to read, to generally familiarize myself with them.
3. Install the language/program on my computer and get my development environment in place to work with it.
4. Find working, best-practice examples of the skills in action, such as code snippets and small applications, and then fiddle with them to see what happens if I make this change or that change.
5. Keep fiddling with the pieces, until I can see, feel, smell, taste, touch the way the language/application works, so that it becomes a part of me and it’s almost second nature. Start at the end, and work my way back towards the beginning, very hands-on and experimental, and involved with the inner workings.
6. Forget about trying to understand the underlying principles and the minute details of how it’s all put together from the start. Just concern myself with becoming familiar enough with the pieces, that I don’t get frustrated and confused and anxious and irate when I hit a bump with the language/application, and I can just work my way through it.
Old Way of Defining My Career Path
1. Trust my employer/headhunter to guide me in the right direction.
2. Keep an eye out for new opportunities and pursue them with all my gusto.
3. Keep moving up in the world, moving from production to management, and on up the mangerial ladder, into the corporate stratosphere.
New Way of Defining My Career Path
1. Keep a close eye on the job market. What are people paying for?
2. Focus on my skills, my technical proficiencies, rather than looking for managerial positions.
3. Keep my attention on jobs that involve working with machines and logic, rather than people. Forget about climbing the corporate ladder. That’s just not happening for me. I cannot deal with the complexities of politics and I cannot be responsible for the well-being of others. I really just want to code, alright?
4. If I start to be pressed for signs that I want to advance, assure my employer/headhunter that I’m much better off — and so are they — if I just keep my focus on dealing with machines, not people.
The last piece is tricky, because employers who have loved me in the past (and yes, in the past, before I fell and turned into a different person, they really did), have been really encouraging when it came to “advancing” through moving into management — project management, team leadership, you name it. As though the real value to their operations lay in my being able to make people obey me the way I could get machines to. Well, fortunately or unfortunately, people are not like machines, and even though I did a great job of handling people in the past, and I was able to really motivate and guide others to do their best, the fact is that now I’m a different person with different skills and different inclinations, and a whole lot less interest in running other people’s lives, than in just making the most of my own.
It saddens me, yes, to think I need to let go of that old potential I once had. I feel a distinct sense of loss and grief, that my abilities have been so sharply curtailed. But on the other hand, I’d rather be realistic and honest and accurate about where I stand, right here and now, than hold out false hope for something that not only isn’t very realistic, but could have serious negative consequences not only for me but for my direct reports, if I ever bit off more than I could chew, functionally speaking.
This is a new way of looking at things. But it’s a necessary one, as well.