Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sometimes the same event can be ascribed opposite meanings. Even though they are opposites, BOTH are often true.

An interesting thing is happening at work... As you know, one of my close friends -- the one who got me this job -- was fired, and while things seem to be sound, there is evidence of problems down the line, as my semi-annual review is coming up where my friend was fired, so I could be next.

I've been managing a project that has been a disaster from the beginning. Initially, I took the project over because the owner of the company was giving instructions to a secretary who had no idea what he wanted of her. I clarified his needs and created a project to get him what he wanted. However, from its inception, the project has been plagued with incompetence where paralegals were billing over 20 hours for tasks that should have taken an hour or so and so on. As soon as I caught the error (on day 2), I brought it up to my boss for him to do something about it. We shuffled around who was working on the project, but in the end, there seems to have been no enthusiasm about the project and so nobody has been moving on it despite my assigning tasks and deadlines which are being missed and so the project is flopping on my watch.

Today my manager came over to me and asked me for a report explaining the project, and he asked for my review of the project. I wrote him an e-mail explaining what is happening, and the challenges I am facing with the project, but I know I was only giving him evidence to use against me to make the case to dismiss me for performance issues. If you don't remember, this was the manager who was opposed to me taking the Sabbath off and almost fired me when I first came to work for the company over me leaving early on Friday to get home in time for Shabbos. Since that event, he's begun to understand that I am a good worker, but I've always been careful around him, as he has been around me.

Anyway, my IM conversation with my wife about this e-mail is below.

Zoe: ok. did you read the letter I e-mailed you?

Wife: yeah. what was that about

Zoe: I'm not sure, but I have to watch my back. I have a feeling bad things are under the surface.

Wife: you think? maybe he just wants to know how much work to give you.

Zoe: Obviously that is how I am taking it, but between us, I can't be stupid. I *must* think the what if's or else I'll end up like my co-worker who was fired.

Zoe: this isn't the place to discuss it.

Zoe: Bottom line, while things are fine, he's asking questions and creating a paper trail of him asking about my performance.

Zoe: From an attorney's point of view, it's called gathering evidence.

Wife: intresting. i'm sure things are fine; not much you can do anyways

Zoe: True. And of course things are fine. You just have to understand that if there is a case being made against me for performance issues, this is one of pieces of evidence that would be used as support to show how I was mismanaging the paralegals and how I was being an ineffective manager, even though that's not my title. Also, under my watch, the project failed because I was in charge of it -- the owner said so himself, remember?

Zoe: Anyway, I'm just showing you what's under the hood, so to speak. Obviously to someone not paying attention, things are fine and that he's just checking up on me to see how much more work I can take on.

Zoe: Remember, in life, there are always a MULTIPLE number of things happening at the same time. As you think things are, they are, but there are always other stories happening at the same time with very different meanings.

Zoe: I smile, you think I'm happy... yadda yadda.. There are always multiple things happening at the same time. Take my friend's conversation last night with me. You know there were different things happening at different levels on that conversation.

Zoe: Same thing here. Got it?

Wife: yes

Anyway, sometimes when you speak to someone, you say something that is quite valuable and true, but the truth of it doesn't hit you until you say it. I've always believed that there are always multiple things going on at the same time, but I didn't have an appreciation of it until I explained it to my wife.

Here's the thought: "You see the world around you and thing your interpretation of events ARE the way things are. And while you might be correct, THERE ARE ALMOST ALWAYS OTHER THINGS GOING ON AT THE SAME TIME, to the point where an opposite interpretation could ALSO be true of those same set of events."

G-d seems to elude us sometimes, where we wonder, "How could G-d's doing X [event] to me (or to a friend, or a member of the family) be good? X is evil." And while that might be true, X could also have been "the best thing that ever happened to you."

You see, while this thought is engrained in us, we don't often take the time to appreciate it. If you're not appreciating it now, you didn't grasp the thought.


Ahuva said...

All you can do is do the best you can and make sure that your boss isn't surprised by anything.

If he wants to fire you, he'll find a way no matter what. However, he's less likely to do that if he believes that you're a hard worker and an asset to the company.

Your wife is right. Just work your hardest (and then some). You're not doing yourself any good by worrying about whether or not what you send him will be used against you later on.

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