Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Priority Progress (Perhaps)

In a couple months - and after many more trips - I will move past Year 0 in Industry. Where I have doubtless struggled the most is with understanding priorities - feeling overwhelmed by the workload and unsure of how to tackle it, being terrified that I'm underperforming even when I'm working 90% of my waking hours, and wondering how in the world I can sustain this pace and level of dissatisfaction with myself.

Adam is nothing short of thrilled with my recent progress in this area. He raved at my review, noting how concerned he'd been earlier this year and how something major had shifted because everything was great now.

"I decided to make you happy," I told him simply.

He blinked at me, sitting back in his chair, and I shrugged. "I had been trying to decide what was best for the business - make a difference for every customer, never fail to follow through, research all these options that might become relevant based on what I knew and heard. And we reached a point where I was unhappy with how I was doing and you were even more displeased. So I decided - since I clearly couldn't decide myself - I'd just do what I was told."

He nodded slowly and I shrugged again. "You tell me to make slides? I make slides. You tell me to go somewhere? I get a ticket and pack a suitcase. You want to talk at 5AM on Tuesday? I roll out of bed and answer the phone. I'm supposed to spend 3 hours on the phone with China next Monday night? Tell me what number to call.

"And," I continued, warming to my topic, "the hell of it is that I was also doing it to prove you wrong. It wasn't easy to get everything done and Industry would certainly fall to pieces if I stopped trying so hard! But as I started doing things in the order you told me to, you were happier and actually listened when I made suggestions about what I wanted to do. And I started delegating because when I was working for you, someone had to work for me. I don't like asking someone to do what I technically could - given the time. But it seems to all work out."

"I'm always right," he noted, grinning when I rolled my eyes. "And I'll tell you that you're smarter than I ever realized. I knew you were bright - driven and educated and a valuable resource. But you manage people brilliantly. You execute like few people I've seen. You're fun to work with and people miss you when you're not around - something about your energy and questions and respect for what people say. It's special. And when you were running around - not doing what I told you to do - I didn't see it."

I patted his arm in thanks for the compliment and frowned as I thought. "But I still don't know how to do it myself." He raised an eyebrow so I elaborated. "I don't like that I need instructions before I feel comfortable with my goals."

"You're getting it," he assured me. "You decide more than you think you do."

I shook my head, opening my mouth to disagree.

"I'm always right," he reminded me. "Go back to work."

And - because that's what I do - that's what I did.


CharlieAmra said...

It is weird where life takes us sometimes. I got out of Academia and decided: I work to Live; not Live to Work. And so far, the Space/Time Continuum has not imploded on Itself.

I am glad that you have begun to find your own equilibrium.

hypoglycemiagirl said...

I had bookmarked this post to read it later and never got around to it till now.

Guess it always takes some time to adjust to a new situation, and it's good to hear that your hard work is being noticed and valued.

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