Once again I was away from work, and the stress, anxiety and frustration sloughed off me like dead skin. The cause and effect between my work and life's weariness is clearly established.
I traveled, watched some television, and read some books while I was off work. A few things sharpened in my focus.
3. Living too much in your head
My company loves talking about teamwork. In their terminology, teamwork is about sharing a common goal and working together, with each of us having a unique role or skill set within the team.
But that definition of teamwork is incomplete. I've always wondered why it seemed incomplete to me. I saw that some of it was that the goals were often achieved but rarely celebrated, and that caused some cognitive dissonance with their sense of teamwork. The goals often seemed manufactured and stretched realism to think that they were realistic goals for all of our team. This was especially true when dealing with problems; my part of our team's problems are gritty, sexy as a worn piece of rusted steel. Few people can do anything to help. My problems are seen as costs. Most people want to close their eyes to the problems that I face for our 'team'.
Reading "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" clarified the other missing aspects of teamwork. Billy Lynn was basically about the disfunctional people and their role in a team, and how, as team members in a military unit, they were willing to sacrifice for one another. That's what's missing many times from our corporate team work. We on the bottom are supposed to sacrifice for the bottom line, which is the corporation's goals - earnings per share and rising stock prices - but we don't see senior leadership making sacrificing, or doing anything to pull our asses out anywhere.
All they're doing is supervising above the fray.
Yes, they'll get involved if it's a customer worth a lot of business, but that's a sad show for us at the bottom, that it's solely for money that they're willing to get involved. In fact, it strikes me as opposite of the team work concepts that they espouse.
While watching some of the Superbowl this year, it struck me how much time we all spend waiting. Working alone, as a writer in my personal life and as a highly specialized analyst and planner in the corporate side, I didn't appreciate how much waiting many people do. But we spend a lot of time waiting for our opportunities to shine or even the moment when we're needed. Many times, just to reach that point, we need to find the ways to get ourselves into a position where we have any opportunity.
Once again, I see clearly how important it is to have a vision, and to follow it with diligence and perseverance. It's a matter of faith that the waiting will pay off but some hard work must be invested to get to the point where the hard work will pay off.
And of course, there's always that chunk of necessary luck.
Some people must apply one third each hard work, waiting (persistence and faith) and luck. Others have greater serendipity (0r connections), and follow a path that's more like three fifths luck, one fifth hard work and one fifth patience. Whatever the recipe, I think it's all needed.
Living in our own heads too much is an occupational hazard for most of the world. It's easy to get lost in our own maze of thoughts and feelings. I do so a great deal, using words as the flashlight to help me glimpse where I'm going and where I've been.
The problem with mazes and flashlights are their inherent limitations. A light may shine for a long distance but it can only help you see so far ahead, especially when you're following the twists and turns that our lives deliver to us. Sometimes, when stumbling and falling, I get up lost in the maze, with the flashlight off and out of hand. Then it takes a while to find the light and figure out which way I need to go. The important thing is to keep going.
And that's where I return to perseverance.
In watching the musical "Jersey Boys" about The Four Seasons, later known as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the band members' determination, perseverance and hard work was on display. In and out of jail, it would have been so easy to give up. Partly was their determination to escape Jersey, the place they call home, and be something, and partly it was their love of what they're doing. Their love of music and singing helped fire their determination.
Not giving up, they worked, identified their shortcomings, found solutions, and finally made it big. Yet even then, several of them were trapped in their mazes. Insecurities, vanities, histories chipped away at their relationships, self-confidence and willpower.
Several ended up saying 'No mas' for one reason or another.
It's easy to decree 'no mas'. It's harder to do it for the right reasons. No more is declared many times simply from emotional weariness. Sometimes it's declared for envy or greed.
When thinking about declaring no mas, the hardest part is ensuring that you're declaring no mas to the right things and for the right reasons. Yet, understanding those reasons requires more venturing into our personal mazes. Sometimes we don't make it out.
It's a complicated process, a five dimension jigsaw puzzle. Some folks see it clearly but can't act on it. Others never understand the puzzle. Many walk away from trying to understand the puzzle but there are some genuises that see the puzzle, understand it, know exactly what to do, and have the strength and energy to take action.
Me, I'm somewhere in the maze, examining glyphs on the wall. Sometimes I use a flashlight, but sometimes that's not working and I'm reduced to candles, matches or lighters. I feel like I'm working my way through the maze.
Will I ever say no mas to my writing efforts? No. I plan to succeed in it. That's not why I devote time to it, though. That is just the love of writing and words, thoughts and ideas, imagination and story.
No, when I say no mas, it will be to that corporation, and their teamwork bleating, along with all the stress, frustration and anxiety that comes with that employment. No doubt, though, other stresses, frustrations and anxieties will emerge in the maze.
With each, I'll need to learn when and how to say, "No mas," and keep walking through the maze.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com