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Archive for October, 2010

A friend of mine got into a real political nut cracker at work. Long time coming I am afraid. My friend tends to be very status and recognition conscious and as I have pointed out before this leaves you very vulnerable.

Ask not, want not is my rule in the workplace. This doesn’t mean that you can’t influence things. Just don’t ask for what you’ll never get. The lords of work will use this against you. At Sun I never asked for nor expected  a promotion. I was surrounded by a swirl of folks who constantly were self promoting themselves. I was promoted twice but because I am the other way man these symbols of recognition were never expected nor asked for.

Me, me, me, me, me , me. God, it got boring. It seems half out time in HR was spent handling these misplaced ego’s. The simplicity of focusing on doing good work was a lost art.

Now in the case of my friend, she did do excellent work. In fact she is one of the best but she is might a well be walking around with her nipples out. Her constant need for affirmation and recognition weakens her in every job in which she toils. And as each job goes bad, she asks us why we think it didn’t work out. Finally I told her.

Your nipples are hanging out. Button your blouse. Okay, well, maybe more succinctly, your constant need for recognition wears on people. Even your bosses (many of whom are threatened by her pressing in on their need for recognition and power territory).

Now even saying this, we all need some recognition. But developing the ability to set your own standards and recognition are very valuable. Mine tend to be self enclosed. I know if I have done well or not. I don’t generally want or need other people’s validation. Notice I use the word “generally” because if someone tells me I have done well, I am grateful. But that doesn’t change my self image. It’s simply not based on a performance review, that most evil of all management/HR inventions.

You are a “meets work standards”. Sweet Jesus, that makes my day.

Women get caught in Nip-Slips (recognition need) more than men (IMHO). They are always demanding equality and recognition. No problem here. Not in my book. Just do good work and don’t base your need on your physical self.

Yes, Brittney, your voice ain’t that good but you’ve always got your nipples.

Britney Spears

Anyway, back to my friend. So she is on the move again, looking for her next gig (job). But the same problem will be waiting for her because anything less than continual and total acceptance and recognition will be a disappointment to her. So what type of job is that?

A slave serving her master. That’s what it is.  I have felt the taste of shoe leather in more than few jobs in trying to “serve”. I once told an ex boss that when I worked with him that I had the distinct taste of shoe leather on my tongue. The fault was not his. It was mine for licking his damn shoe in the first place.

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Moving on

My young friend took me aside. He had broken up with his girlfriend or rather she had broken up with him. I remember being at a local cross-country meet and snapping a picture of the two of them standing together. I used my iPhone. A warm, no HOT day and the two of them standing in the shade talking to other runners. I remember thinking to myself. What will it be like when they break up? Eventually I deleted the photo. I felt the bottom drop out of something far away when I did that.

I think that way at times. Like a picture can control events. Delete a photo and you begin to delete the relationship.

He is young and they were together for a year but then went off to different colleges. Not so far apart but worlds apart.

I need some time to think about things. I need some space. Those words. I have heard them before in the dusty recesses of my own past.

We talked for a long time but I didn’t have any answers for him. His phone would vibrate and he would grab for it like gunman grabbing for his colt 45 in a crowded saloon. His fingers were itchy. She was still texting him, he said.

God. If she wants space, I thought to myself, give her the whole state of Montana. But make her understand what space is. Space is being away. Not staying close. But Jesus, they are both teenagers in their first year of college.

My other friend, my long time running buddy said, “Go date someone else. The easiest way to get over someone is to go out with someone else.”  In a way he is right but my young friend is still in the grips of whatever hold this girl (and she is little more than a girl..closer to 10 than she is to 30) has over him.

Move on, I thought. That’s what I had to learn to do both with women and with jobs. And in the end we all move on and the world gets along fine without us. I have gotten really good at moving on. The quintessential field goal kicker or relief pitcher. One team one year, another team the next.

PUA’s would say that you should never fixate on one woman especially at age eighteen. It took me a few more years than eighteen to learn that but once I did, I got really good at it. When you’re young there is always another woman or another job. Maybe when you are older too. I know that as long as I wanted to work, I could get offers. I am married so I haven’t tried other women even though there have been some opportunities that flashed by and evaporated like a morning mist when the sun finally bites through it.

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Women and jobs left me as readily as I left them. I simply got used to it. Call it what you will. Fear of commitment. Hell, I was committed! For an hour or a day or sometimes even a month. Now I have been married for thirty years. It ain’t great anymore but strangely I still love my wife. I think she loves me too but she is no longer in love with me. Not the way I am with her. After thirty years people change. We talked it out. For now, we stay together. We support each others lives and passions. But the passion is gone. But the love, at least for me, remains. I am not looking for the next Ms Right. Been there, done that.

So we play house. That’s what most folks do anyway. Play house. 30,000 years ago they played cave. Except back then if they didn’t play cave they died rather quickly.

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Learning from yourself

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Know Thyself

Knowing yourself is critical. My wife asked me the other day if I regretted spending two months as a cross-country coach versus taking off and going to Hawaii. I unequivocally said “no”.

I don’t tend to regret things that way.

What I regret (when I regret) is the way I sometimes respond to negative things that come up once I make a decision.

I didn’t regret going to Borland in 1991 as much as I regretted staying there once the VP withdrew his promised support. What I regret was not cutting a deal on the spot and just leaving.

I don’t regret being a cross-country coach. What I regret is that I was not much more clear about what I was willing to do and not do. I said I wanted to be pure volunteer only but allowed myself to get talked into going on the payroll and all the expectations that go along with that decision. I never wanted to be part of the machine. Not even a cog.  I wanted to help out now and then. I don’t do cog and go fetch that or this very well. I hate the words, you have to be there! Actually over the years I have found out that I rarely have to be anywhere except where I am at that moment.

I didn’t regret dating what’s-her-name back in the day but I do regret not leaving once her very immature side took over. Not her fault. My fault for staying too long.

I didn’t mind working as much as I minded allowing myself to be a doormat on many occasions.

I have never regretted speaking the truth (as I see it) even when it has brought the forces of all Hell down upon me.

I don’t tend to dwell on mistakes. I may think of them regularly but more often as something to be learned from rather than something to lash myself for. But friends and colleagues don’t often get this about me.

Learning from others is hard but learning from yourself, your inner self, is much tougher.

NOSCI TE IPSUM

What is it I have yet to learn about
Myself that I should know before I die?
Of all those things that still remain in doubt—
The what, the where, the when, the how, the why,
And most of all the who—what do I need
To comprehend or understand or find
To satisfy the contract I agreed
To carry out, the one that I designed?

For so it is, I’ve heard: we cycle through
Life after life, each time to find out more
About ourselves and do all we must do
To learn what our bright consciousness is for
Until at last we fully realize
Our true identity without disguise.

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This is not about baseball

San Francisco Giants Catcher Buster Posey And Relief Pitcher Brian Wilson Celebrate

This is the very moment when the Giants clinched the pennant last night but this blog is not about baseball. It is about things that are (or aren’t).  The Giants are National league Champions but without any big stars or dominating players. In fact this team doesn’t make sense. It hardly made sense last year when it won 88 games. It makes more sense this year but only a bit more sense. Enough to win a trip to the World Serious (series). Individually this looks like a train headed to nowheresville but together, they are those pesky Giants who find a way to win. Next year they may not make any sense at all.

What makes sense to me is the diversity of the team. This team is not a dynasty. It is a moment in time when things converge, coming together to create an incredible force and then later on to break apart and cease to exist.

It happens more often than people think but rarely do the parts recognize the potential of the whole. The Giants recognized it and rode the horse to the winners circle. This happened with Seabiscuit in the late 1930’s. Broken horse, broken down Jockey, broken down trainer and an owner who made his fortune selling cars. But in 1936 they drifted together. Hopefully most of you know the result. One of the greatest race horses of all time. 5 years and then it was over. They drifted apart and the moment had passed by like a blur.

Greatness is the parts recognizing the whole and grabbing that moment.

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This is from another blog of mine in a time that seems long ago and far away……

Actually it from November 2008 when I was went back inside as an employee of a Silicon Valley company for 15 months.

***Exciting (lol) pdate at the very bottom.

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Who Am I Trying To Convince

I was listening to myself this past week (or two). I have said a hundred times that I went back inside (work) to get benefits. I have said it so many times that it seems that I am trying to convince myself that that is the reason I went back in. Now I understand why Dena and Steve looked at me strangely and absently so many years ago. Work is so interwoven into my way of thinking that I can’t shake it loose.

The past 3 months have shown what a slave I am to work even though I have played at not being a slave. I am my master’s most favorite servant.

I am not against work. Don’t read that into what I am writing here.

I am against being a slave to it.

Last night I listened to John talk about work even though he no longer works at all. But it’s his son’s work or my son’s work. He drones on and one about it. John is a good guy. More than that he is generous and true if you are in a bind. But 40 years of over identifying with companies has done him in. I did this with running.

I was a runner. Got that? I WAS a runner!

Now I am a jogger of the lowest ilk. I don’t identify myself with being a runner anymore or at least not hardly.

I believe I have just replaced one master with another and forgot that the self mastery is the key.

Things I am going to stop doing

Telling folks I went back in for the benefits. It is partially true but it’s not the whole story.

Telling people I don’t really need to work.

The truth is work is random for me. I do it because I can and want to (at times). My best guess about my random self is that I will stop working when I decide that I no longer want to (or people stop calling me).

I don’t need to be superior or needy about explaining this to anyone.

Yes, if I had 5 million in the bank I might not work. I am not sure. I don’t know myself that well. I don’t want to know myself that well.

I just want to stop boring myself and others.

**** UPDATE! I did stop working in March of this year. I am doing other stuff and loafing in between. I am not as lazy as I want to be. But I no longer march my car down the highway in commute traffic day after day. I no longer have an office. I no longer have an official title. I am no longer being paid.

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I had coffee at the watering hole with a classic zoo animal today. 27 years at HP. He knew that a layoff was coming for months but he went into denial and hoped (HOPED) that he would survive. Well, twenty-seven years. Who could blame him? Actually he had originally been at Tandem which got merged with Compaq which (thanks to Carly) got bought by HP. The HP CEO actually expected business units to be accountable and make money. This CEO being Mark Hurd, the “you are accountable but I am above it all) guy who actually did a pretty good job given the recent spat of failed HP CEO’s. So eventually because this business unit didn’t make enough money, they were asked to cut back. So as Hurd was being paid 40 million bucks to leave, a few zoo animals were cut loose from their habitats and dumped on the open range where guys like me roam. Guys and gals who are beasts of prey and who can actually hunt down and kill their food.

He had sent me a request to chat and then didn’t respond back to my return email for two weeks. I sent him an email response to his second email and said he was a classic zoo animal. Maybe even a petting zoo animal.

So he asked to meet.

“That’s me all over,” he said in so many words when we met over a couple of decaf mocha’s. “I am a zoo animal.”

So we sat down for about an hour and I told him what I knew about looking for jobs.

This was what he was used to.

This is the zoo.

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This is my world

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Actually he was better off than some of the zoo animals I have tried to help. He was actually out networking and talking to people. The problem is that he is hunting 5-10 times a week. Not enough, I told him. You need to be always hunting. 5-10 times a day is more like it. So many hunting expeditions go badly. You come up with zero. You need to get out there every day. You need to be constantly out there.

“Your full-time job is to look for a job,” I said as my saliva glands began to…well, salivate. The hunt always gets my heart going.

I think he’s got it. He thinks he’s got it. Now the question is whether or not he’ll do it.

I passed him on to Jerry “The Jackal.” A swift hunter in his own right. Will hunt in packs or alone. But he hunts.

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Real Work

An old blog from well over 2 years ago.

REAL WORK

I have been trying to pinpoint my client’s leadership type. Stanley Bing’s book, Crazy Bosses has a chapter on paranoids that seems to mostly fit the bill. M is paranoid and a bit delusional. He has told me on numerous (uncountable) occasions that he know how to best manage his department and that he does not appreciate others interfering. And he does believe that others are interfering. In the meantime he starves his headcount especially in areas he does not highly value. The M type of worker does not really question his approach but just does what he call real work.

Real work is simply working yourself into the ground trying to stay up with the constant sheaves of paperwork and demands that flood the system hourly, daily and weekly. It is almost impossible to ever catch up and have time to think about anything approaching a more efficient way of doing things. Success, if it can be called that, is measured on how much paper one has moved rather than in doing things more efficiently.

M always defaults to his real work premise if you talk to him about a more systemic way of getting something done.

In short, he has made himself an unenlightened ruler of a petty kingdom that he rules with an iron fist. He is friendly enough and accepts challenges but his strategy, ultimately is to fall back on his real work model that means more time spent at work doing more mind numbing paperwork and useless projects. In the end you get worn down and become a sort of drone. You get too tired to argue. It is easier to listen to his stream of consciousness tirade about how he it the only one who really knows how to do it right and then get out of his office and go back to your desk.

On two consecutive weekends I have thought about going in to work to get caught up but the thought of that office makes me queasy so I stay at home, don’t get caught up (you never really get caught up anyway) and I just figure I will face the mess on Monday. This is not a happy place. The team is close but they cling to each other. It is the closeness of a prison camp rather than the happiness of a village. There is no art here unless it is the art of laying bricks. The rule is that of the guild not the rule of creativity and potential. The place is locked down in time and does not move forward.

This is it anyway. Either the CEO moves HR or I give notice but I to my promise am true. I will wait through Tuesday. Personally I think it will be very tough for the CEO to stand up to M. I have told him this. If it were in my hands I would have no problem telling him that HR is moving (both organizationally and physically). But I am not the CEO. So he has the terrible task of telling M that this move is immediate. He can’t ask.

He has to tell.

My direction?

I will fly up to the big clock tower and then aim for the second star to the right and straight on ’till morning.

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