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2008-02-19 - 9:04 p.m.
The best way I can describe work at the moment is conceptually stressful. I don't have a million things that have to be done before I go home. Quite the opposite- if I'm not disciplined I could spend the whole day doing nothing and nobody would notice. But my work is in major need of a revolution, and I'm suddenly faced with that being my responsibility.
We hire Uni graduates, and then erode away their reasoning and problem solving skills until they become robots. And I don't think I'm exempt from that assessment. I'm just in a position to be able to identify this, I don't really know what to do about it. I was given the chance to act as manager because my manager believed I could do it. But he's obviously not there anymore- I am. Hypothetically I could have the support of 0% of the people under me. That's not the case, and neither is it the case that I command no respect, but I don't think I really represent authority to them. And I think it's because I try too hard to be the nice guy. Or the guy that doesn't want to cause any hassle. Sometimes doing things the right way involves extra hassle- and sometimes all it takes to make sure it's done right is one person pushing it. I could have 20 people disagreeing with a decision that I make, but as long as I enforce it things will change. They might hate me for it, or only do it when I'm around, but that's still a change in the right direction.
So I spent most of today just thinking about how I can make a difference in this place. I think a lot of the things I should have been doing since I took on this role that I haven't been doing well are catching up with me, and now is the time to do something about it. I think there is some element of autocracy in every good leader. You can try to be everyone's friend, or ensure that everyone has their say, or change tack everytime somebody disagrees with something that you've put in place, but when it comes down to it, no matter how many people you consult, management is about you making the final decision and making sure everyone else abides by it. You're never going to please 25 people, or agree with everybody's point of view. And you're never going to have 25 people agree with your point of view. I need to at least see their point of view, which is more than they have to do for me. Nobody is obliged to agree with any decision that I make, but they are obliged to abide by it. If I don't hold people accountable for that, then all I'm doing is ticking a box to say that I've implemented a change- when nothing has.
Anyway, that aside, what have I been up to these last couple of weeks, apart from getting up to date in here with my Costa Rica trip? The week leading up to my planned camping trip (Mon 4/2-Fri 8/2) felt pretty hectic. In the end we didn't go, it had just been raining too much and even if the rain had held off for the weekend the ground would have been...well...mud. So that decision was made on Thursday, which meant that I didn't have to rush off to Miranda Fair after work to finish shopping for supplies, and I didn't have to rush home from work on Friday, quickly pack and Esky and then head on down the coast. I know that on the Wednesday I went to the Rose for Bernie (and Ben's farewell), and I know there was some reason that Monday and Tuesday after work felt full, but I can't remember. I think Tuesday was when I BBQ'ed (or cremated as Lucy put it- it wasn't my finest hour) for Lucy and Nathan, and we watched about 6 episodes of "Scrubs". And before that I'd gone for a run with Nathan.
Friday since I didn't go camping I went to a work dinner. Nathan and I haven't stopped talking about how bad the food was. It was the first work thing I'd been to since my work Christmas party when I really felt like I was drinking and partying too much for a boss. This time I felt like I was looking on and critiquing my behaviour. Why would you say that? Why would you do that? Why would you think that? It really had nothing to do with the fact I was with work people this time- they were all people who I can draw a clear line between work and socialising with- it was more that I'm getting to dislike what I'm like when I'm drunk.
"Always the centre of attention, like a christmas tree in a room full of children"
That doesn't describe me- that describes what I'm desperately trying to be when I jump into every conversation that is happening around me, add nothing and then move on to the next one. And I don't notice until I'm in the middle of it, or afterwards. I realised in Costa Rica that I was too hung up on gaining everyone's acceptance- feeling sometimes like I wasn't a part of things, whatever "things" were, when I should have just cared about spending time with Jo. And I remember saying something at the party I went to after my Australia Day BBQ that just made me stop and think "why are you even in this conversation?" Maybe I have a latent case of ADD- that would explain why I can't sit still and drive Lucy nuts wandering incessantly between the TV and the computer ;)
So yeah, I was internally pretty critical of myself that Friday, plus I felt once again like I only stayed out drinking (at the Coogee Bay Hotel after the crappy dinner and then at the Bank when we didn't get let into the Townie) because I had no reason not to- if Jo had been there she would have had half of my wine at dinner for starters, and then we would have gone home, or gone for a few drinks and some pool, or even if we had gone to the Bank and got home at 4am I would have felt less like an outsider. I think that is partly the boss thing- I know I have to make myself an outsider to some extent at work, and only when I do that successfully can I draw a line and comfortably cross it- from objective not-on-anyone's side boss guy at work to social drinker who is obviously going to get along better with some people than others, because I have more in common with them.
Anyway, Nathan stayed on the couch, then the next morning after watching a few episodes of "Scrubs", grabbing some Vietnamese for lunch with Lucy, and giving Nathan a lift home, I spent about 10 hours on the couch watching more than an entire season of "Scrubs" (I've watched 11 episodes of "Buffy" in a day, and I think 12 Episodes of "Grey's", but even factoring in that "Scrubs" is half as long, that's got to be a new record). Don't ask me if I'm proud or depressed by the feat- I haven't decided yet.
Sunday I made up for my ridiculously lazy Saturday and boozy Friday night by cleaning the house, doing a big grocery shop and making dinner. I think I also went for a run. So I didn't feel so bad heading into another working week last Monday. I've got to learn not to trust my instincts...