Thursday, June 2nd, 2005
The scene: my boss's office.
My boss: "How is it that you've never gone to management training? You've been managing people for a long time."
Me: "I don't know; it's not something that particularly interests me."
My boss: "You should go. I'll sign you up."
Me (to myself): "You might regret this."
Corporate rah-rah has always struck me as summarily fake. For years I avoided dealing with it by having my own company; but then one of my clients bought me out and now the walls were finally closing in.
So off to management training I went. Most of it was cringe-inducing as expected. There was one woman, however, who had interesting things to say. The idea was to learn to ask people the right questions in order to help them do their jobs, and by extension be happy and fulfilled in the workplace. The immediate tendency when someone presents you with a problem is to offer specific advice or ideas on how to solve that particular problem. But the more interesting line of questioning aims at finding out why the problem became a problem in the first place, and why the person with said problem cannot resolve it on their own. There comes a point in management life when, if you are managing enough people who themselves are managing their own people, you can't possibly solve all their problems for them, or even know enough about the situations to offer any meaningful advice. Thus the management scenario is how to help these employees solve their own problems, as they are paid to do.
All well and good as far as management goes, but how is it applicable to this story? Well...in the name of helping me become more "happy" and "fulfilled" in my work life this woman asked me some uncomfortable questions. Such as why was I working this job, what excited me about it, how did I feel in the morning when I got up for work, what did I dream about, etc... I had avoided asking myself these questions for years, and had avoided answering them truthfully if someone else came close to asking them, because I knew deep down that the answers would mean that I would have to get out of this business. And I didn't want to get out of this business because in some respects I had hit the lottery with this job. At one point in my life I had ended up in a very bad place, sick and broke and hopeless. Now I was in a position of responsibility, making shit-loads of money, wearing a suit and tie every day - basically a successful and respected member of society - everything I wasn't back in the day. To leave the job behind feels like risking a return to those dark days. And yet it is undeniable that this part of my life has run its course; I'm no longer interested.
Another incisive question this woman asked: "What if it isn't all about you? What if your disinterest has a negative effect on others?"
Fair enough. The end result is that I'm closing up my appartment, taking a leave of absence, and flying my motorcycle to Europe for an extended trip to think it over. I don't know why Europe has such a strong pull for me, but I can't resist answering the call. Plus Bert the blue whale just wouldn't stop bugging me about the shitty view he has had for the last year sitting on the corner of my desk.
Last day at work is June 3rd. I feel like a new man now that my pager(s) is(are) gone. I keep reaching down to my left hip to check them out of habit, I definitely need a vacation.