So, I’ve had a lot of things happen over the past several months. Oddly, most of the ‘bad’ things really haven’t happened to me (in my personal life)…..it’s just stuff in my professional life etc. Last week, I testified in a divorce proceeding (that was also a custody situation as well) for a long-time friend/co-worker. The whole business lasted ALL DAY. I was so exhausted when I got home……it was a beating. This, after spending quite a few-dozen-hours on the phone with said friend over the past few months (not complaining…..just takes a lot out of you)……in the lead-up to this giant event. You know, maybe I would have NEVER wanted to be an attorney…..that stuff is rough, man. It was such a sad, painful event…….but in the end, my friend ended up with custody and they’re divorced…..it’s over. He gets child support, too…….not a lot, but it’ll help.
I read an article today (at LinkedIn) about a manager refusing to engage in ‘Stack Ranking’ of employees. It was a good article, and although I’d heard of it, I was really unaware of how the practice worked. I work for a state agency, and I’ve heard that it’s been used here (but heck, raises come so infrequently around here, period….that it rarely even comes up!)
But, it made me remember something I used to do when I worked in healthcare administration. I used to like to do the old ‘Memo’ containing ‘Supervisor’s Expectations’ with many of my employees. It wasn’t ‘negative’ per se, or really even meant to be ugly, but now, with many years of life and working under my belt, I’ll say this: I wouldn’t do that kind of crap nowadays….I just wouldn’t. If you’re a good manager, and you know how to motivate people, just through talking and chatting, your people should know what’s expected of them…..without a silly memo.
It’s demeaning and as a minimum, pedestrian, to treat your people like that.
I work in Texas. Child Protective Services is really in the news these days around these parts. We read lots of things (positive AND negative) about families and children in the press since an (apparent) need for more spending in that department is present.
This is silly…..but I just feel grateful for all the good things my Mom did for me when I was a kid. I really miss her…..she died many years ago. But I just really miss her and wish I could hug her and tell her ‘thank you’ today for all the great stuff she did for me while I was growing up. The music lessons, the money for school trips, the clothes, the cooking, the shopping, the doctor/dentist/orthodontist visits, church, weekends, hugs, laughter, an attentive ear…….and so much more. Thank you, Mom. I miss you every day. When you were alive, I thanked you…..several times……but I just wish I could do so VERY LOUDLY today, right here where I am.
First, a teeny bit of back story……..I am really into haunts! I love going to haunted attractions, etc. Long story short, I invested in a VERY GOOD custom made mask for my son this Halloween season…….creepy doll/zombie kinda-thing…..trust me…..creepy. So, the other day, my daughter decides to stage a ‘clown sighting’ in our yard…..with him wearing said mask, hiding behind a big trash can……and she videos it from her room, while feigning shock and fear. She sent it out (via Snapchat) to her peeps. No biggie, right? So, her friends were a little freaked out and that’s about it.
But, later I tried to counsel her (maybe not as well as I should have) about fanning internet-based mass hysteria. The internet is FILLED with hysteria……most things going ‘viral’ is nothing more than an example of that very thing (not always, just most of the time). I like to say, ‘On the internet, he who is most offended gets the most attention.’ Later, she was asking me about the ‘clown sightings’ phenomenon. She really hadn’t heard much about it, and I knew it’d been bubbling over about the preceding 10 days or so. So, I told her about the Bermuda Triangle thing. Where the researchers took about 5 random spots on the map, and just drew triangles……and guess what? There were loads of ships/planes that’d gone down inside EACH and every one of those areas!
Yes, there may be an uptick in ‘clown’ sightings. Possibly, one factor (I believe) is the modern prevalence of excellent clown masks! One can put on/take off a mask within just a few seconds…….”Look, I’m a creepy clown. Oooooo, now I’m not!” But, people see weird and creepy things ALL THE TIME! In the 70’s, it was UFO’s. In the 80’s it was Satanic ritual sites deep in the woods. I ran across a pretty cool article today on CNN with some pretty cool stuff…..give it a read!
While reading a WSJ article today about Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf defending the corporations’ actions in recent days, I was struck by a comment left by a reader at the end of the article:
“The legal, safety, environmental and quality control departments in corporations spend a lot of time making sure that high level executives are insulated from the undocumented pressure they put on lower level management to achieve revenue goals by any means. As long as branch managers (low-level scapegoats) get fired instead of people like Stumpf having charges brought against him, the implausible explanations for rampant consumer fraud will continue.
PS: The windows on many older GM SUVs shatter spontaneously (even while parked). Its not a common problem but known in the auto glass industry. GM knows about it. No recall………. I guess they will wait until a kid in the back seat bleeds to death. I am sure the VP’s and CEO know nothing about the issue.”
Now, that little post-script rant….I’m not sure about that…..but I will say that the first part is VERY MUCH in keeping with my experiences (short-lived as they were) in corporate America are TOTALLY in keeping with that explanation. Everybody is ‘spinning’ to everybody else.
….to my last post. I wrote briefly about failure (or, more correctly……life’s struggles AND failure)……
So, last night I was listening to ‘Planet Money’…..a great podcast put out by NPR. The topic was top-level web domains…..and how that field has widened. That field has REALLY widened! You can give the episode a listen to learn more, but this stuck out:
A young woman who said she is a tech contractor and works ‘in the basement’ at the Pentagon had an idea to start a top level web domain named ‘.wed’……of course, it would be for people about to get married, or planning their weddings etc. She was smart and sounded gritty and determined. To get ICANN to grant her that top-level domain, she had to fill out loads of paperwork and pay them (take a deep breath): $185,000. This was somewhere around 2012 (roughly). She scraped the money together and did it.
In the interview with her……(she charges $70 for the first year, $70 for the second year and $30,000 for the third year)…..she said she’s only sold about 75 domain names…..my calculator tells me that comes to $5250. That means she’s got about $179,000 left to JUST MAKE HER MONEY BACK!!! I’m not laughing at her bad fortune, far from it actually. If you (like me) tend to think that EVERYONE IS TRIPPING OVER BIG BAGS OF MONEY and you’re not…..I offer this woman as an example. She took a risk and it isn’t working out so great!
I generally don’t get too carried away here in terms of mental health stuff, but I thought I’d toss this into the ether as it might help someone out there. I could make this a REALLLLLL-LLLLLLYYYYY long post but I’m busy and not in the mood to do that right now.
This summer, while away on vacation, I had some time to do a little thinking about a few things…..to take stock of where I am and what I’m doing in my life. I’m in my mid-40’s (and sliding rapidly toward my LATE 40’s!)…..so these kinds of thing tend to happen around this time in a person’s life.
I make my living in the field of social services, which as anyone knows DOESN’T tend to reward workers in a large monetary sense of the word! A good number of years back, I spent some time in healthcare administration….and made EXCELLENT money, but it was VERY stressful on me and my family. Here’s the critical thing: I had several flavors of superiors (‘Senior V.P.’s’ blah-blah-blah….you get the idea). I generally DID NOT feel like I was cut out to climb the ladder and become one of those types of corporate talking-head type guys…..fine, great, groovy. In my self-talk, I might say: ‘I’m just not that type of guy.’ …….and hey, that’s perfectly fine. HOWEVER, during my ‘epiphany’ I came to realize that, in very subtle ways, I’d been insulting myself for NOT TRYING TO BE one of those kinds of guys. I’d been tormenting (so-to-speak) myself for not being one of those conquer-the-universe type guys! On one side of my brain, I knew what I was/wasn’t…..but on the other side of my brain, I spent a lot of time calling myself a ‘loser’ etc. That’s really twisted……..and so strange to me that I was just ‘deaf’ to that. To continue this thought further, I’ve often been a ‘You’re OK, I’m not OK’ kind of person. I lean toward…..’Everyone else is on a cruise’……’Everyone else is getting promoted’…..’Everyone else is getting a raise’ in my mind……..all the while, ignoring the people who’re failing/struggling left-and-right!
So, here’s the deal: Life is hard……..FOR EVERYONE! That neighbor of yours, who’s always doing great…….he isn’t……….trust me on that. Everyone you know is struggling, and clawing and huffing and puffing their way through the day JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. One of those guys I know (I respected him, and still do today)……he experienced HUGE amounts of success in a company I worked for. Then, one day, his wife couldn’t pick up a dish. He took her to the hospital, right during the midst of his perfect life and his perfect kids (each of whom belonged on a magazine cover)….and his amazing house and his incredible salary…….to learn she had a massive brain tumor. She died 18 months later, at 42…..and his world got turned upside down….his beautiful, sweet, intelligent wife, who adored him and their kids. I don’t glory or revel in that….I care about that guy……but life didn’t hand him perfection……’cause it NEVER promised that it would to begin with. No one gets perfection…..no one.