Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Note About Managing People

There are a few things I have learned about managing other people throughout the course of my working career. I have learned a few of these lessons more than once, sometimes because I watched multiple managers stumble into the traps they set for themselves and sometimes because I made the mistake while managing and learned, then watched someone else do it poorly as well. 

There are good and bad ways to get what you want in any endeavor. Managing people is no different. The exception is the damage you face when you refuse to acknowledge how awful you are at it and that the common problem is you.

This is a quick super huge, long list of how to handle the manager/subordinate position, should you find yourself in the manager role:

1. Manage people. They are your most valuable asset and if treated with respect, they can do amazing things while making you look good.

2. Don't micro-manage people. Give tasks, answer questions, trust that they are adults and know what they are doing. They have a job to do and so do you. If you find you are too busy, look to see if you do this.

3. Do not expect that anyone is going to do anything exactly like you do it. If it's getting done and getting done in the right time frame with the right results, accept that maybe your way is just that. YOUR way. Not the only way.

4. Stop talking about people behind their back. No one respects a gossip. It looks terrible on you and on the organization. You are a professional. Act like one.

5. Tell the truth. Don't ever get caught in a lie with someone who reports to you. The relationship will suffer for the remainder of the time you work together.

6. Treat everyone equally. Do not let someone waltz in late every day without comment only to dress down someone who had to be a few minutes late one day. Don't decide that some people have to go to lunch at a certain time and buddy up with someone else. Yes, you are the boss and you make the rules. You also create the culture. If it is a culture of back stabbing and resentment, look carefully at what you are doing to create that.

7. Keep people informed, telling them what is going on and what they need to know, rather than issuing edicts declaring your 'new rule'. The rule will not stick, you will keep re-making rules that no one follows and the process will repeat in an endless cycle.

8. Enforce policies with your own actions. If lunch is a half hour or an hour, then be sure to not abuse it yourself. It only sets up resentment and acting out by others.

9. Know what you are talking about. Know the jobs and responsibilities of those you hire and manage. Educate yourself on what they do. Educate yourself on leadership and management. If you are going to be at the top, make sure they have something to look up to.

10. Mentor people. One of your primary functions is to attract, hire and retain the best person for the position. So if you have someone doing well, encourage them to do even better. If you have someone struggling, set up a plan of action to get them where they need to be and communicate the problem. Don't gossip about it to others. (See #4).

11. Do not make disparaging remarks about anyone's gender, race, nationality, religion, creed, orientation, age, hair color, style, etc. and do NOT ask anyone if they are gay. Ever. If the thought occurs to you to ask, take a long look in the mirror and think about how you would like to be unemployed. This should really be number one. Or, you know, not need to be on the list.

12. Do your damn job. If you are supposed to do annual performance reviews, schedule them and do them. Don't make excuses about how you are too busy. No one cares.

13. Do not complain to the lowly secretary about your troubles. She takes home 1/3 of your salary and is in no mood to listen to how bad you have it.

14.Do not talk badly about your boss. Watching you make bitter comments about your boss is not something that will inspire your subordinates to do differently. Remember that.

15. Let go of the small stuff. If it is important, deal with it directly, and with the person you need to talk to. Don't get crazy about every little thing, then your people will just ignore you.

16. Do not go around interrupting every conversation to get 'in the loop'. You are just swinging your dick around attempting to make it look like authority. Your insecurity is showing, you might want to hit the restroom and deal with that real quick.

17. Your job is not to be well liked, but it doesn't hurt. Gain respect by treating people with honesty and fairness. Let your integrity shine through in all you do. They may not want to get a drink with you but they won't have much to say bad about you either.

18. Do not stand in the way of progress. You will continually be hiring and training the next bright young things. Don't be afraid, get yourself educated on the technology, use it and don't be afraid of someone being better at it. You aren't the only one doing the teaching sometimes and that is good for everyone.

19. Don't stand in the way of an individual's progress either. Don't put up ridiculous roadblocks or pretend you didn't get a request. Don't disparage someone so that you can keep them in their place because you are codependent. They will move on, with or without your blessing. What they say about you within the industry when they leave should matter to you.

20. Let it go. Even at the top, no one gets paid enough to work around the clock. Don't take things so personally that you lose sight of what you are doing or have no down time. You took this job because you thought you could do good things. You had goals and visions. There will be setbacks. Never forget that you are more than the bad days and everyone is looking to you to see how to deal and move forward. Make sure they have something good to watch.

Monday, July 22, 2013

If You Need A Reminder

It happens to the best of us. We make plans over the weekend, we have a few drinks, we dip our toes into the pool of "well, this is what everyone else is doing, we all have to work, right?" and another toe into "You know what? I don't have to do this, I am capable of more- I don't need this shit...", the latter of which is fueled on by more and more alcohol.

Then you wake up, its Monday morning. You are fumbling in the dark and you get yourself out of the house at a reasonable time. You sit at your desk, staring at the screen placed helpfully in front of you. You start to get lulled back in. You forget how angry this place makes your inner child and how much behavioral therapy that inner child appears to need. You lose track of time reading internet articles and web sites and blogs and time ticks away.

Maybe its your lead footed blowhard of a boss bounding down the hall, pushing his weight against the earth in a fight with gravity to show everyone how important and serious he is. Maybe it is his underhanded remark about something you tried to educate him on, so he doesn't embarrass himself. Maybe its your co-workers, oblivious, locked in a match with the sands of time for who will blink first and if they will live a life carved out around this mess. Maybe its someone who will stop in, find themselves in the maze of hallways and randomly appear at your desk, with their whole rolling cart of bullshit you cannot have any less interest in taking on.

For me, today, it came in an even more familiar form. A senior manager, second in line of command to use my boss' favorite terminology. Asking me a question that made me go cold. It is a question I have answered a dozen times, an explanation I have doled out patiently so often. The worst part is that in the nanoseconds between the question being asked and the answer being given, I remember (as my mind loves to do) how much this person makes per year. How much more they make than I do. How they cannot remember the basic functions and processes that drive what we do. How I, the lowly one on the totem pole, will never be able to reach the heights of monetary earning as I am not an old friend, an old colleague, a trusted confidant, and here I am telling them (AGAIN) how to do their job.

Most of the time this scenario plays out and I mutter under my breath. I feel angry and defeated. I worry, thinking about how they are going to get found out, and even worse, if no one does anything. I worry for the person who takes my job- only to be 'managed' by those who have no idea what is going on. They will run into the same quicksand of crazy. They won't know what is happening. They wont understand.They will start their own process from the beginning. And that is ok.

That was a change. A small, but noticeable change in the course of how I am dealing with things. I see the mistakes and I worry about the person who will come to deal with them after me. Because I am leaving. Sooner than I probably thought. On to greener pastures, more important work, people who can mentor me to be my best and help me to find the things I didn't even know I could do. As I worry about the next innocent to take this desk, I am filled with anticipation and joy for all the things that lay ahead for me. A change has occurred, and as with so many things, it is within me, rather than outside of me. They will not change.

The person who takes my position will need the job. They will be glad for the paycheck. They will be happy to be secure. They will be thrilled with the ease of some things and terrified of the prevailing attitudes from some of the people. They will find out just how disproportionate the responsibilities/pay scale/ intelligence quotient ratio is in this place. This will be a stone on their journey, too. One they need. One I should not deprive them of by staying any longer.

If you ever need a reminder of what you know about where things are in your life, look around. They are everywhere.

To Hell With Boring

Who wants convention, stability, quilted bed coverlets?

Who wants totality, conformity, tan turtlenecks?

Who wants to be the same, when different is more fun?

Why drive the tree lined road, when you'd rather run?

The trappings of comfort aren't called trappings for nothing.

We are all trapped, the comfort is smothering.

Take it from me, the road out is straight.

Follow it out, discover your fate.

You know what you want,

You've known all along.

Stop pretending to be weak,

Stop pretending they're strong.

You work so hard to have it all

You look so high, when it is so small.

You want easy, look somewhere else.

You want boring? Boring can go to hell.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I'm Such A Dick

Now, now... this is no time for giggling, 7th graders! This is going to be a serious discussion. Get your dick out of your ear.

I am a total dick. I have no trouble admitting it, and in fact I state it quite often. To people who not only don't think I am a dick, but who also understand why some other people do. And that is totally OK. Here lies the dilemma we all face- do you do/say/think what you really want or do you do what others want for you? If you choose your own way, someone will think you are a dick. Guaranteed. I'm here to tell you that you can empty your hands of caring what they think, and how I justify doing so. Feel free to borrow/steal in perpetuity:

There are several reasons people might think I am a dick. All of them are a result of their entitlement issues and expectations. You read that right; THEIR ENTITLEMENT ISSUES. I know readers of this little tiny publication have grown accustomed to the thought that I have entitlement issues, but I have done some soul searching and I learned something. I take issue with people expecting me to be in servitude to their bad manners. It would appear that the issues belong to those who would even believe they could do that.

People who expect others to treat them in some special way because of their propensity for whining and getting along in life by inconveniencing others have issues. I can't begin to tell you the weight off my shoulders from realizing that I am not the source of this problem. Granted, I will be responsible for the waves that are made. I take that responsibility seriously. And I lick every last minute of it off of my fingertips while said whiner squirms in discomfort when I don't hand them the ability to decide how I react.

Furthermore, I expect certain things, as do most people. The difference comes when your expectations infringe on another's in such as way as to put them out, to knock them off of their axis. When you think that whatever you want trumps what someone else wants or needs, and are willing to do something rude or immoral or unethical to get your way, I will be there to let you know I saw that. I will call your bluff, I will hold your feet to the fire, I will call attention to the situation and I will get resolution. I expect people to test my capacity for this on a daily basis, so you might want to expect to have to deal with me if you cross my path. It is a mistake you will not soon forget. A lesson you will take with you for life.

I will not let you hold my sanity hostage. I will not allow you to bite my tongue for me. I will not stand idly by and watch while people are mistreated and keep quiet lest I interrupt your views on how a 'lady should behave'. You don't like how I'm acting? Fine. Call me a dick. It will end up saying much more about you than it does about me. I encourage all people of the world to stand up and be a dick. Don't let people invade your space, talk down to you, ding your car, knock you over and steal your purse. Make sure they know. Letting people mistreat you teaches them to do it again.

 If this is why you think I'm a dick- because I won't hesitate to let you know that what you are asking/doing is unreasonable and inappropriate...? You won't believe the size of my erection when I find you lying to me. Better get a butt plug, this dick is coming for your ass!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why Are We Angry At Jenny McCarthy?

Oh man, it has finally happened. The gates of hell have opened and a former Playmate with nothing going on in her life has found relevance again. The View, a daytime talk show I have never once in my life had the misfortune to be forced to watch, has hired this gem to be a co-host on their show. You know her as a beautiful blonde, she has been in Hollywood for over two decades and despite an acting, modeling and voice over career, she is most famous for her anti-vaccination views...its Jeeeeennnnnyyyy McCraaaazypants! Cue the quiz show theme music, kids. I have questions to ask!

Is the reason we hate Jenny McCarthy because she has crazy views? Is it because she is a quasi-celebrity who used her status to promote said  foolish and harmful views? Is it because she is a pretty blonde who dared to talk about anything other than things that were appropriate for "lifestyle" columns, gossip mags and Cosmopolitan? Is it because she refuses to read? Because she thinks science is a general concept and not the way humans have accepted as our form for finding out truths about the world?

Or is it because we are afraid?

I'll explain.

I think the reason we are all up in arms over Ms. McCarthy being given a spot on a vapid television program that has had more than its share of 'flat-earth society dwellers' (A-HEM, Sherri Shepherd) is that we are afraid. We are afraid that people watch this drivel. Which they do. Lots of people watch. You don't watch, and I don't watch. We have other things to do. But people do. Some people. Some......mostly.....women.... watch this show.

So we are afraid that Jenny McCarthy's views that vaccinations cause autism and that her son is proof and that by not vaccinating your children your are sparing them from this terrible fate, will be swallowed whole by swarms of zombie-robot female viewers, who will then decide they cannot in good conscience ever vaccinate their child again?

I don't often write about current events, but ...come on. I think about as highly of Ms. McCarthy and her views as I do the gum I got off my shoe earlier today. If you think that stay at home moms, those who work swing shifts, women with small children and the entire viewing population of ABC during the daytime are so stupid as to accept her ideas (which have long been refuted by science) without a second thought, I am concerned. 

Are you saying that daytime television viewers are stupid? That women are stupid? That women who watch the show to catch up on current events and assure themselves that Barbara Walters is still alive cannot be trusted to get information that is valid from another source, such as a pediatrician, or I don't know...any research study ever done on the subject? They must have already killed their kids with their own stupidity and negligence by now, then.

This has me concerned. See, I think JM is an idiot. An especially pretty, television-ready idiot with controversial views. Why are you all surprised? This is why they had Elizabeth Hasselbeck on the show so long. People don't watch to get their news. The either want their current ideas validated or to laugh at someone who thinks differently. The women that watch this show already know whether or not they believe in science or in Jenny. And trust me, those putting their money in the coffers of the anti-vax movement are not likely to be swayed any more than you and I are about the importance of making sure our children and their neighbors, friends, etc. do not die of preventable childhood diseases. You already chose your side of this battle.

And lets, face it- we all know why she is on the show. There is a systematic process for deciding who to invite to the show. You want to hit every demographic. The premise of the show is laughable at best, but look how successful it is to pit differing views against each other. And to have women do it? Perpetuate the 'cat fight' story line we are all so sick of in the workplace?Perfect...some watch for real, the others for laughs..doesn't matter. You get the advertising revenue either way, don't you ABC? A fluff ball like Jenny McCarthy with her tits in her lap to boot? Well, who could blame you, right? You're just trying to make ends meet. We get it.

Lighten up a little, America. Let the idiot get out there and show her stuff. This might be her last chance before she is snorting coke off a back table of a titty bar trying to get "Mack" to hire her, so let's go easy on her. The more you protest, the more it sounds like you think your ideas are best and no one else's can be heard. The more you wring your hands over dumb mommies in the midwest watching this twit, the further it pushes women back. Let's let this terrible ship sail. 

And while we are at it, let's take a break on being angry at Jenny McCarthy's lack of interest in science. She is a body that was taught to talk and is going to be deluged by producers quick to make a buck on her stupidity. She needs this gig...Its not like she has a career in law to fall back on. 

I Dream Of Sabotage

I had an interesting dream last night. I was part of a group that had several sisters from a wealthy family. They were all young, very beautiful and chic, raised to expect life to be a series of wonderful things. They did fun, rich girl things like shopping and going out to fancy dinners. 

Somehow or another, I knew them and one of the sisters and I were out at a market doing some shopping.  We saw beautiful artwork and she talked me into buying some trapezoid shaped mirrors made by a lesser known artist. I got the two mirrors and some other items. Later, the mirrors were missing. The young woman tells me that her sister, whom I also know, stole them as usual, to give money to her boyfriend so he could buy her dinner. He is poor and insecure and this has always been a problem. Her parents let her use credit cards, but don't approve of the young man, so if she buys their dinner, it adds to the problem.

Later, we all went out for a meal. At a nice place. Everyone had the habit of ignoring the thefts this girl has committed so that they could keep carrying on as it were. We are all at this table, dressed very chic, drinking large delicate glasses of rare and expensive wine.

I turn to the younger sister and I tell her that I know she stole my mirrors. Another sister interrupts and tells me that they found out the mirrors were worth a lot of money, dozens of times more than I paid for them and that they were worth selling. I told the girl that it doesn't matter,  that she had made her decision on what she had done, and that I expected all of the money back. The money that they are really worth. 

The room stops. The clinking of glasses and silver forks onto expensive china, the rustle of designer jeans and the tapping of thousand dollar shoes on the floor- it all goes quiet. I look calmly at everyone and say that while I would rather not have someone steal my belongings in the first place, I despise that they would all go so far as to continually cover this up, and that upon finding out their worth, I expect full repayment. There are a lot of heads down, embarrassed and contrite. 

The young woman has a look of shock, but not anger. She never expected to be called out. Then I tell her boyfriend that if he is too insecure to have a woman buy him dinner, their relationship is doomed. They will either never do anything he cannot afford, which means she will have to give up a lifestyle she is obviously willing to do anything to protect, or they will end up in jail for the things they do to keep the charade going. I turn back to her and tell her that if she cannot support herself on her own, and always needs her parents' approval, she will be trapped and forced to live out someone else's view of her life.

Almost, but not quite to my surprise, everyone relaxes. The decision is made that I will be repaid the enormous sum of money the items are truly worth and that it will be the payment for a lesson well learned. We go back to eating our meal. No one is storming out angry. No beautiful glasses of wine are thrown at anyone. The dim lighting is still just as beautiful and we are still having just as great a time. 

I knew in the first place that this outburst on my part could create problems, especially among people who keep appearances up. Especially with all of them together, those who had continually covered up these situations before. And yet, I still said it. I woke from the dream feeling a huge weight lifted. 

I feel like this is how I live my life in general. I say the things that no one wants anyone to say out loud. I sabotage the picturesque with my machete, cutting through overgrown weeds of bullshit and secrets and lies. I hate the semblance of perfection put on by people who are afraid of the truth. I always find myself wanting to stab through the wall that pretends to be the clouds and ocean and horizon, telling you that it goes on forever, and not to try to look further. 

I know better. And most of the time, when I show people, they are glad. Relieved. Living the secrecy and the lies and the pretending is a burden. Free yourselves. Call them out. Yes, you may encounter someone who only wanted to think the earth was flat. But at least you will know then and there just who and what they really are. That kind of information is much more useful than the smokescreen they have been showing you.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

To Thine Own Self Be True

If you ever want to figure out just who you are, try a little exercise: First, think about who you are not...the kind of person you will not be, and the things you will not put up with. Don't give me that line about negative thinking- this is positive, trust me. After you do this, you will have cleaned the slate. Free from expectations and pressures, armed with the remembered knowledge of what you resist, you will be able to see who you actually are. This is helpful for when I get lost, which I do from time to time.

I don't toe the line very well. I dress pretty moderately, in clothes you would expect for a woman my age (or older, really). I own a lot of sensible shoes. These are because I am comfortable that way. If they give off the impression that I am interested in pretending not to see what is going on around me and call bullshit on it, they are so very not sorry about that. I don't care what idiots think. I'm not here to make it easy for you to catalog and judge me.

I am a bit of a jerk as far as some people are concerned. Most people want to pretend to be idiots, so therefore it seems like I'm the asshole. I don't actually think people are all stupid. They are stuck, sad, lonely, lazy, scared, bitter, constantly living life through the lens of their experiences. If I am not subsidizing that self sabotage by handing you a Kleenex to cry into, you'll have to excuse me. I don't care what people think of me, only whether or not their negativity has a negative impact on my life and ability to improve conditions. I am working on being aware of that and letting go of the nasty attitudes I encounter. That is THEIR bad day. THEIR long held belief. I do not need people to hang on my every word, to like me because I validate their experience or allow them to turn my life into theirs. You don't need to like me. I have friends. I will be me long after you are gone.

If you are an above mentioned moron, and wish to make contact with me, please take note: your comfort is of no importance to me. Your feelings are inconsequential.  You are in your orbit and I am in mine. Should you drive the vehicle that is your time on this earth into a collision course with me, however- you are in for quite the crash. I will ignore your bad attitude, not your bad actions. Take notice.

I'm not a narcissist. In fact, the opposite is really true. I really need other people to do my best work. Improving the lives of others and changing the world is all I really care to accomplish on this earth. If I support local businesses and smile at someone when they happened to need it, or over-tip someone when they least expected it, that is all gravy on the meat.

To be true to yourself, you need to do a few things. First, you need to know yourself. Then you need to accept yourself. I have done extensive research into the first part of the equation. I spent many years and am coming to the end of the second part. I realize now what I should have known all along. I am who I am. There is probably nothing that will fundamentally change my core beliefs, and there is also nothing that should. I do not need to be changed.  I seek improvement to refine my abilities to add to the world  and the experience I am having while spinning on this rock with all of you, but there is nothing 'wrong' with me. Or you. Even if you are a moron. Your choice to remain clueless and detract from the experience you are having and that of others around you is your choice. You are free to make it. And you are free to live with it.

Once you know who you are, then accept who you are, you will realize an important truth: No one else has to accept who you are. This is perhaps the hardest part, but undoubtedly the site of self awareness we all seek to some extent. I know who I am. I like who I am. I will not change who I am. I will use this knowledge and the inherent gifts that come with being this particular set of cells to do my best to further the human race. This is what freedom feels like.

Falling Apart Is Good

Another year of life has come to a close. As that one leaves, a new one is budding in the wings, waiting to make its stage debut. It has watched this year closely, paid attention like a good understudy, yet it has intentions to make last second decisions and change things up a bit. To be out there on the stage, improvising, where no one can stop it. I feel its rapid heartbeat and know it to be not of nervousness, but anticipation of greatness.

This last year my mortality has loomed in a way it never has before. I have never doubted that I would not live forever; however I have always known the chances were good I will live a longer life than many people that I know. Its a gut feeling. There is no good explanation, other than that I don't smoke and I have no immediate blood relatives whom have had cancer. In fact, the distant relatives that left this world too early put themselves at great risk with their own actions.

Certain events of the past few years have had the effect of slowing things down. Most of the time, I feel as if life is passing so quickly, years flipping like pages in a picture book, with only glimpses and snatches of what is happening even making it to my eyes for comprehension. Now its going slowly, for just a bit. Its as if I am looking around, realizing not just how long I have been around, but how much longer I probably have. How much change I could be affecting. How many things I could do. People I could meet. I have years and years.

Lately I had started to feel like the years were going to drag on. Instead of stretching out before me as the unfinished promise of a long life to lead, I worried. Illnesses, injuries, chronic disease and suffering could take over, get worse and pull me slowly toward death... instead of the catapult I would surely want by then.

Just in time to feel sorry for myself came strength. The will to take charge, to get a better understanding. To gather myself up off the ground and peel away from the self sabotage. I don't have time for this, I have shit to do! That voice is always louder. Which is why I am not prone to long periods of depression. I could spend my time more effectively by telling someone what to do, giving out the free unsolicited advice I am known for...Really though... I know that I am not here for me. None of us are. We are here for us. We are all here as part of a collective group, we are here to push each other forward, to progress not as individuals but as an entity.

Its not what it sounds like. Depending on who you are, it might even be worse than it sounds. And yes, it's all hippie and shit, wearing beads with no shower in sight... I know that in order to do my best work, I have to do something that pushes other people up, not just fill my pockets. I have to learn and teach. GROW and help others grow.I have to help other people change so that I can BECOME.

The only way for me to live is to HELP. To INSPIRE. It may or may not make me rich, that much I don't know. But clearing the copier of a jam because someone sent through a stapled document is not going to cut it. I only feel alive when I get it. Really really get it. And then when I can show to someone else how to see through the crap, how to reach through to what they can be. I can't do anything past that. Everyone steers their own ship in the end. But so often, just opening the blinds for them is more than enough.

I will say though, that the surprising thing about getting older is that the slowing down every once in a while is more helpful than I previously thought. My body won't do what I want it to do when I snap my fingers. I have to teach it and reteach it new things. This takes time and has its ups and downs. It has developed its own system for being angry with me and has spitefully made every simple ailment a much bigger deal. It throws tantrums like a toddler, only you can't ignore it because it knows how to get to you.

I've learned to get better. I'm learning to put up with limitations and not see this as falling apart, but rather as slowing down to pay attention. The things I'm able to see when I look around at this slower pace are amazing. The inconsequential nature of daily activities that don't involve relating to people, making the world a better place or enjoying all that you have becomes crystal clear.

Fall apart sometime. Sit down, have a big ol' red-eye cry. Take a few days off. Walk around your neighborhood. See things you can't see when you are just driving by, on your way to somewhere you don't really want to be. Slow down. Tear away at the daily bits. See what is right in front of you. I can't recommend it highly enough.