Friday, May 29, 2009

Why I'm so tired

There's been so much going on lately it isn't even funny. End of year concerts, karate, soccer starting up, camping, biking, new landscaping. I've been running a mile a minute at home. However, the thing that has been stressing me out is work Warning now, this might get long.

I've posted some stuff about what's going on at work, but it's time to get it all out of me, release if from my body, and get back to living again. It started a couple of months ago at my annual review. I got blindsided on it and was basically told there was a problem with my ability to work with my peers and my boss had no idea how to fix it. This was followed by getting shit for a raise and resulted in a "don't give a fuck" attitude from me for a while. This was a relatively idillic time for me as I completely let go of all work stress and just did what I thought was the absolutely necessary tasks.

Fast forward to two weeks ago (roughly). I finally managed to pin down my boss to a one on one to try and tell me what I needed to do to get better at my job. It was not a pretty conversation. She reiterated not only her concern, but the CIO's concern that I was not able to work with my peers in any meaningful way. She threw around statements such as "not satisfied in your job", "right guy in the role", "don't know if we need to re-org or what" and finished with "you have no influence". Talk about kicking a guy in the gut. I came out of that meeting seriously wondering if she was looking for an excuse to fire my ass.

Let me tell you this caused me some serious stress for no short amount of time. We spoke on a Thursday and I'd felt like I had a rock in my stomach for the entire weekend. You don't easily let something like that go. I did the only thing I could think to do come Monday morning. I got back to basics. She pretty much told me about the worst thing you can say about me: I can't build good relationships. My entire professional style and personality is about building those personal relationships with my co-workers and customers. One of the things that's made me so successful in my job is my ability to become someone the business can trust to help them navigate the complicated IT organization and help them achieve their goals.

So I took my top projects and started making calls and seeing people to get things done instead of relying on email. I made the long day trip to headquarters to personally speak to the managers I needed to get assistance. I got out of my damn chair and went to see my customers again. Under normal circmstances, it would be liberating. Now I felt under the gun. Top it off with trying to get away from email but that being almost the only way to get in touch with my manager.

By the end of the week the rock in my stomach was smaller, but not going away. And the back of my head started to hurt which I knew was from tension. I've been seriously considering whether or not I want to remain a part of this organization but finding a new job isn't easy these days. But I kept on. This week, the boss was in town and I tried to pin her down for a few minutes just to get some direction on issues going on. I had been debating if I got her ear whether to just come out and lay it all down: do you want me around or not and if you do are you going to work with me to get better. A very risky move.

I managed to get 5 minutes of her time yesterday. I quickly got her up to speed on personnel issues. I told her what I was doing to improve my performance and she liked my approach. I then jumped in (sort of) and told her I'd been under a lot of strain since our last conversation and wanted to make sure if she and I "were good". She reassured me that "we're good". She also agreed that my keeping her informed via email was acceptable at this time.

So I got about as much of a reassurance as I'm probably ever going to get that at least she's not out to purge me from the organization. It's not much, but it will have to do. I can't go on working under a cloud of fear, which was where I was. You can't manage confidently if you think one mistake is going to be your last. So where do I go from here? I keep working my magic and building relationships with the people I work with, inside and outside the department. I get out to headquarters more often so I can talk to the people I need to talk to. I keep working on my MBA. I leave the work at work. I keep my eyes open in case something comes up.

What probably helped me turn the corner is a sermon given when I attended the funeral of my sister-in-law's mother. The priest said, in effect, you're exactly where God needs you to be right now. I have to trust that this is true. In my professional career, this is not an easy time, but there's a reason I'm where I'm at. Sure, in hindsight I see the things I should have done and the influences that probably caused me to disregard all the things I say I believe and do the opposite. But in the end it doesn't really matter. I am where I am. I'm not sure where I'm going. But the Lord will get me there.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Growth

Two posts in two days! Don't get used to it.

A comment I made on Jeanette's blog made decide to post this. Today Maverick was having a bad day. He spent 10 minutes getting his hair just the way he wanted it, then it got all messed up in the wind when he had to walk the dog. He didn't have a hissy fit or anything, but he was stomping around.

Halfway through church I noticed he was standing there all tense and shaking with an obvious mad on. At first, I leaned over and asked him what his problem was (not quite so mean sounding). He didn't respond but I took a second look and I knew what was going on. He and I are alike in one respect, when we get a mad on, we stew and every little thing just makes it worse. I knew this because I've been fighting that mad on all weekend (story for another time).

So I decided it was time for a "father/son" moment. After communion, I told him to grab his jacket and come with me. We left the church and had a seat in the parish center where no one was. I asked him what was bothering him and he said he didn't know but every little thing was annoying him. I told him I understood and explained how I get like that. I also told him how I was trying hard not to let the things annoying me take over and that I was trying to let it go. He seemed to understand and feel better. By the time we left about 10 minutes later, he seemed in a much better mood.

It's good to know I can still talk to the kid since who knows how long it will last. But at least we both learned something out of the experience.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Out of the Blue

No, not the album by ELO (though that's a great album). Yesterday I recieved an unexpected email. It reads as below:


Dear Faith on Fire:
I am writing to request Faith on Fire participation at a WDKX sponsored event on June 6, 2009 at the Mt. Vernon Church located at 351 Joseph Avenue. WDKX along with MVP Health Care (formerly Preferred Care) is sponsoring a Unity Day Celebration. This is a free event organized as a collaborative effort by WDKX Radio, Mt. Vernon Baptist Church and SafeChild Foundation Outreach. This is a celebration to bring the community together in crating a safe and productive place to live and improve the quality of life in our neighborhood community and city. This Unity Day is an effort to promote the good in our city, its people and the opportunities.
Everyone of all ages is welcome, We will provide various activities, information, food and entertainment. Some of the entertainment will include a WDKX live broadcast, African drumming and dance from Bush Mango,performance from Miss Sweet Soul Babies and Gospel singing. We hope that Faith on Fire will be a part of this wonderful outreach program in the Upper Falls area. I have attached a copy of the promotion overview, but if you have questions , please feel free to contact me.

Regards,
XXX
Vice President of Finance
WDKX 103.9 FM

I was blown away! The band is all interested in the gig so I'm going to contact the person to see if we can play. The opportunity to play before a couple thousand people will be awesome!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all my mom readers out there. Hope you had a great day today. The boys and I took the Wife out to a wonderful Mother's Day brunch at a nearby resteraunt. It was the first time we'd done that and we had a blast! Food was amazing and it was nice to get out. Our waitress introduced herself then said a big hello to Grasshopper. We thought that curious until Grasshopper told us she was one of the 5th grade teachers in his school. Apparently this was her other job. It was kind of funny to be waited on by one of the kid's teacher.

Later we went to visit my mom. We had some dessert and visited for a while. There was a lot more going on this weekend but I don't want to take away from the Wife's day by posting all of that. Hope everyone had a great weekend and Mother's Day.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Newbies

Tonight was Grasshopper's final Spring concert with the Elementary school band. Last year they closed one of the elementary schools in the district so there are a lot more students. So many that while last year there was one school band, this year there is a 4th and 5th grade band. The 4th grade band performed first. They were pretty good for kids that had been playing only about 7 months. However, you'd have thought they were rock stars or something.

Why you might ask? The parents of said 4th graders spent their entire performance (before and in between songs) shouting out their kids names, hooting and hollering, whistling, and carrying on after every song as if The Beatles were playing or something. This behavior continued when the combined 4th and 5th grade chorus sang.

Now, how do I know for sure it was 4th grade parents making all the noise? Because when Grasshopper's 5th grade band came on to play, there were no shout outs, applause was appropriate, there was no whistling, and no one was standing up waving at their kid like an idiot when the kid couldn't see them in a dim concert hall.

It's probably well and good that Grasshopper will be in middle school next year as middle school band parents know how to behave at a concert. Literally the kids were better behaved tonight than the adults. Of course, the Wife and I were highly dignified throughout the performance. We're not newbies.