out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
a hymn of praise to our God.
But slowly, the tide began to turn, and reflections of the company I had been promised 4 years ago began to emerge. There are still days where I will smugly remark, “thanks for coming to the table,” when someone expresses a suggestion or puts forward a design I worked on in 2004, but this is an improvement over wanting to slug them in the jaw.
And I had learned this before, so I can also include that I am as capable of forgetting important life lessons as I am learning them. I didn’t ask the right questions because I didn’t recognize that they needed asking, and because everyone on my team was new to the company and thought the same thing.
Charisma is a draw, but not a guarantee
I came to the Mill to work for a man who in 2 interviews knocked me off my feet. He rejuvenated an enthusiasm my then-employer had killed, and I wanted nothing more than to show him what I was capable of. I wanted to excel for him, for our team to come bursting out of the locker room behind a spinning newspaper headline that read “Unknowns Wow the Crowd.” (The storyboards of these fantasies are heavily influenced by MGM.) But the sad truth is that he did not survive. When we shook hands on our deal, his Livestrong bracelet wobbled down over his wrist. In less than a year, he had died.
That turn of events was personally shocking enough. What made it professionally unbearable was how vulnerable it left our little team. So much for our rousing Hoosier-like victory; we weren’t even allowed court time for practice. By budget renewal time, the CEO asked us to forecast the cost of shutting down. Marauders were taking our team members. Backroom deals were being made. In 12 months of planning, we hadn’t planned for that.
Honestly, I never knew this. I have been on The Fringe, but never truly on the Outside, in that West Wing “are you on the inside?” kind of way. A girl from the Latin Club is never in a position of Power, but I had always been at the table when the decisions got made.
- networking, using my closest inside connection to get to those in the room
- influence, where Power is not mine to wield
- compromise, getting only a fraction of what I lack the muscle to get in full
- submitting, when my opposition’s Ego is much stronger than mine.
This might all be in Tzu’s Art of War. I just had to learn it the hard way.
Support comes from unexpected places
It is unfair for me to suggest that the entire company gave us the cold shoulder. It was only our division, our leadership, and the people who sold our product.
When the terrible news came, it wasn’t the CEO, or our VP’s peers, who came by to visit and express their condolences. It was these scattered supports who proved to be the real mensches. They are all gone now too, sad to say.
She is Mrs. B, of course. It is a corny and obvious ending, but it is also the truth.