Thursday, July 7, 2011

Suddenly, the Absurdity of It

I've written a couple of times in the recent past about work (though, as usual, I write vaguely, so as to protect both the innocent and the guilty). Let me summarize real quick - lately, one of the people I report up into has been causing me some degree of anxiety, for a variety of reasons.

It is the usual corporate inanity that influences tens of thousands of workers in tens of thousands of jobs, so there really isn't anything spectacular about it. I am a firm believer that all people are distributed on a bell curve and some folks are below average and some folks are above average and that's just kind of the way it goes.

The same holds true for management - there are bad managers, there are good managers, and there are all the other managers in between. I've had some great managers over the years - my current manager is one of the best in a dozen different ways. The person I am currently challenged by - well, not so much.

Today when I woke up and went through my morning routines, before driving into the office, my monkey mind has seized on this upper manager - not in a particularly stressful way, but in a way where I was moving the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle around, sorting out a variety of incidents and observations and trying to find how they all fit together. As I went through this process during the drive to work I was suddenly struck by...

The absurdity of it. This is an individual who is fairly well qualified (on paper) and middling high up the corporate food chain. But, what it really comes down to is - they're floundering. Their actions are not the actions of a confident leader. They're the actions of someone who is lost and flailing around trying to find something to grab hold of. Now, in corporate terms, that doesn't make them any less dangerous - anytime upper management starts flailing, pieces can get broken.

The trick to the game of corporate survival is to try not to be one of the pieces that gets broken in the flailing. Most of the time, once you're aware of it, you can dodge it, stay nimble, and move through the subsequent chaos. Sometimes a random bit of flailing will take a piece of you and sometimes that random bit of flailing will knock you entirely out of the corporation. That is just the way it goes - fate, at its finest.

I firmly believe there is a force that moves through the universe (I call it God, or the Mystery, being Catholic). I think there is a plan and sometimes we get glimpses of that plan and other times part of it are sprung on us. I've been working for thirty plus years - I've been successful, by my own terms and to a degree by societal terms, everywhere I've worked. If I were to lose my job tomorrow, konked by a random flail, I would do what I have pretty much always done - thrive.

That is the absurdity of worrying about it. First, most of it is beyond my choice - I can only make the choices I make, according to things I value. How other people choose to react is beyond me. The choices they make I can, maybe, marginally influence. Wherever this path goes, whatever twists and turns it makes in the course of that journey - I have faith in The Plan. It is absurd to be overly concerned about the flailing of one upper manager. What happens to them will be according to their own little version of The Plan. (Isn't pre-destination a wonderful tool for us to find a modicum of peace in a turbulent world?)

So, today, struck by the absurdity of what I am observing, I spent most of the day working on the tasks in front of me, being present in the moment, and laughing as I viewed things through the tinted glasses of absurdist theater that are the best corporate goggles, I found a spot of peace.

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