In the two months I’ve been settling into a life of “post-employment life”, I’ve been specifically amazed by three things. The first is how time flies; it’s weird, but it feels like just yesterday I was stressing out about work projects and deadlines. Secondly, I’m blown away by how being a “house-husband” is keeping me insanely busy – I now wonder how I EVER found the time to get all this stuff done before! And lastly – but most interestingly – I’m blown away by how finally “not working for someone else” is allowing me to – albeit slowly – evolve into the person I’ve always wanted to be; that is, evolve without agonizing over potential repercussions for having opinions other than those provided to (or forced upon) me. Let me explain:
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been what I call a “G.S.D.” (get stuff done) guy, a label that’s pretty self-explanatory. However, being such a person is a double-edged sword: I’ve always had a reputation for goal achievement and accomplishment, so folks know they can count on me to “get stuff done”; but on the other hand, moving quickly to complete certain tasks also highlights my frustrations whenever an authority figure butts in and forces their opinion and influence on a project, especially one they have no clue about. These guys always seem to either (a) get in the way of getting the task completed, or (b) meddle with, and mess the project up altogether.
This kind of interference was never an issue for me when I was self-employed; however, anytime I became an “employee” reporting to “superiors”, I found it to be pretty common! And looking back now, I believe it’s because I was an experienced entrepreneur that I had trouble reporting to people who, despite having never run their own businesses, were labeled “The Boss”, and who acted like they knew more than everyone else, which they rarely did. Not surprisingly, these folks had ideas opinions that didn’t jive with mine, which would have been fine EXCEPT the times they viewed what I thought was a “discussion” as me having a defiant, insubordinate attitude… what? These exchanges always ended with (a) veiled threats, and (b) with their position trumping mine, a well worn “Because I said so” to complete the insult.
Regardless of my age, these kinds of uncomfortable confrontations caused me much grief, anxiety and many sleepless nights; and when I was younger, when attacked I often lost my cool, something that – more often than not – resulted in grave consequences. When I got older and my bosses would purposely intimidate me or bully me with threats, I’d still become anxious and stressed out, only now I would rarely argue back – Having both a mortgage to pay and a family to look after, I chose to suffer in silence, because what choice did I have? And while I know that I obviously wasn’t always 100% right in these situations, I was rarely 100% wrong; and on the inside, this infuriated me. Here’s why:
Having spent over 25 years in leadership positions (including executive hotel management jobs, General Manager positions, and owner/operator partnerships) I’ve had hundreds of people work under/report to me, and know from experience that the workplace is no place for this kind of bullying or intimidation. If an employee respectfully disagrees with a boss, or makes an error on the job, it’s an opportunity for “Leadership” to step in and develop that employee to make them better at their job, not to belittle or intimidate them.
Unfortunately, from what I’ve noticed since returning to the workforce as an employee the past 10 years, this interpretation of being “The Boss” is about as common as snow in July. Instead I’ve seen (and experienced) the exact opposite; which is why leaving behind all the toxic egos from the work force in general is having such a positive effect not just on my daily routine, but my soul as well. Oh, and it was the number one factor in why we paid off our mortgage so quickly.
“How you do anything is how you do everything” ~ Harv T. Eker
I now see that as a young, brash employee, my attitude and passion to “G.S.D.” might have been mistaken for arrogance or over-confidence; however, my own managerial experience taught me that even when this was the case, there is a proper way to handle such situations, and as mentioned, it’s called LEADERSHIP. If people in charge of subordinates ever feel threatened or uncomfortable by an employee’s ambition or enthusiasm, then chooses to “punish” them through fear and intimidation, they are bullies, plain and simple. And I’ll bet anyone a million bucks these people behave the exact same way toward people outside of work as well. It all makes me wonder how this lack of respect and poor treatment towards others affects their own lives; especially if nobody can talk to them without fear of retribution?
The fact is that for all of us, our habits and attitudes – both good and bad – carry over to all aspects of our lives, and to think otherwise is naive! If someone is a kind, respectful and supportive friend or parent at home, they don’t go to work and suddenly transform into a bad-mouthing, backstabbing bully who abuses those around them – human beings just aren’t wired to “switch it up” that way. And since folks aren’t able to turn our personality traits on and off, these people will bad-mouth and backstab just as much to the folks in their personal life. In other words it’s in our nature to treat all the people in our lives the same way, regardless of what environment we are in – being good, bad or indifferent – and “That” as they say, “is that”.
Understanding this fact has allowed me to let go of much of the anger I’ve felt towards several past work-place bullies; I realize that as nasty as they were to me, they also were to the people in their personal lives , which I figure is a dynamic that probably created (and creates) a pretty unhappy lifestyle for them personally. I know this because Karma says “What goes around, comes around”, right?
So the way I deal with bullies is to know that Karma is on the job, and handing them back exactly the crap they’ve been dishing out, and give them exactly what they deserve. And yes, this thought helps me forget them, and let’s me, sleep at night. Because when I’m finally on my death bed, I don’t to look back and realize I wasted one precious moment of my time worrying about how these people wronged me, or how they got away with it, etc. – because from what I’ve seen, most of them haven’t, and don’t. The evidence of their bad attitude and bullying shows up in the lack of respect they get, or the stress loads they carry, or the way they are perceived as people by their employees and peers. And unless they “shape up” things will never get better for them, because how can it? Karma won’t allow it to!
And with that final bit of wisdom, I’ll just keep on smiling, and humming this tune…
And THAT my friends, is good karma!
C’est la vie! Fish… out!