Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Monkey Mind Needs A Rest

It has been a pretty brisk week. I am glad the weekend is approaching. I’ve laid in a set of 10+ hour days at work, so I am already a little bit fried.  I haven’t been able to get to the major task I had this week so it’s still sitting in my to-do tray. I’m weaving in and out of a couple of meetings this morning, but, according to the calendar, if I will have a mostly free day tomorrow.  I may have to block my calendar out, log off the corporate instant messenger, and ignore email in order to get it done.

I battled the Monkey Mind this morning on the way into work.  When that happens I have a tough time getting motivated and moving once I get in the office.  I get overwhelmed with this feeling of “why do I even try”?  Realistically, if I had thirty or forty uninterrupted hours I would be able to catch up, but, at best I get between eight and ten productive hours a week.  One of the things I’ve really struggled with has been this. Since our last re-organization, when we came under my bad director, we’ve never had effective leadership.

I’ve always thought that leadership does two key things. I use a “bright line” analogy.  A leader has to draw one bright line that shows there organization where they are going - the path from here to there.  This line lets people know what they should be doing.  Every task that comes across the desk can be evaluated with a simple question - does the completion of this task move us farther down the bright line?  This helps the field employees stay focused on the goal. 

Next the leader has to draw a pair of lines, one on the right and one on the left.  These lines define for the organization what they do not do, those things that are beyond their area of responsibility.  My current director has failed on both tasks, so, as a result, as an organization we run this way and that way, chasing the whims of the day - while simultaneously pretending we are working toward a greater goal. 

As an individual contributor it’s very difficult to know what you are supposed to be doing. I’ve pushed hard to get clarity. My direct manager has tried on several occasions to give me that clarity, but her directions are relatively pointless when she keeps getting over ridden by her boss, our director.  At the ground level, it is just very frustrating.  I am about a third as productive as I once was, working more hours, because so much time is lost on wasted effort, on whims, and on running this way and that way and accomplishing nothing.

When I contemplate this, especially on my morning commute, it makes the morning that follows a very tough space to try and get anything done in.  It is hard to prioritize your work when, at any given moment, your leadership is going to change your priorities. There are definitely days when it is just overwhelming and today is one of those days.

I sure seem to be spending a lot of time in this space writing about work lately.  It is sure a challenging environment.  I am going to split this entry out into two and write about some personal items in another entry, but for now, I needed the outlet to try and give my monkey mind time to rest.



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