Reaffirming and Confirming our Humanity: The 3 Men on the Wall, Plus a Bonus

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We escaped on Wednesday night to take a little rest and celebrate how hard we are working on our goals. To play Bingo at a new bar in town! It was intended as playful time to ignore work thoughts. We walked in and there sat 3 previous colleagues, lined up on the wall bar stools, facing the door (almost expectantly?), happily enjoying their beers, laughing. They greeted us with open arms and broad smiles; such a cheerful welcome! I have not seen any of them for over 3 years. I met them over 13 years ago, all senior to me when I started a new job. Jon was on my interview committee, and I was terrified of him for literally years afterwards. I was actually intimidated by all of them for years. Never would I have imagined back in 2007 what lovely energy and heartfelt good cheer we would feel for each other now after we have all gone our separate ways.

Rollin is retired and happily travelling with his wife and spending time with his 2 granddaughters. Scott is whistling and smiling in a different company’s corridors. Jon is out of work and sent me his resume the following morning. I could be in Jon’s shoes next month, asking Scott for a job. We are all just humans, living out our lives with all the illnesses, vacations, job losses, celebrations, and financial upheavals life offers.

Friday morning, I was wound up tightly, thinking of all the hours I had not yet billed to clients (I work for a consulting company- we make money by being useful to clients, and have billing goals to meet each week that determine our income, bonuses, raises, and whether we remain employed). I still had 14 hours to the week’s worth of time to bill before I could truly be “off ” for the weekend. That was weighing heavily on me… I had to fit in a blood draw for my insurance in the morning too. When I arrived at the Safeway Quest Diagnostic Lab, the technician made innocuous small talk and asked what my day would be like. I took a deep breath as the needle plunged and responded that I was stressed about producing 14 more hours to bill clients to please my boss and wasn’t sure how it would fit in with my other non billable responsibilities (I am also a people manager and business developer). He looked at me and said “It’s not worth it to let pressure from the boss in”. I looked him in the face for the 1st time in our 10-minute appointment, eye to eye, and felt like a 10-year old. “Yeah, true”, I think I said. And I believed it. But the conflict inside my muddled brain, oh the conflict!! He responded straight at me, very intently. “Really. It never is worth it”. “Yes, thanks. You are right”. I tried to smile but am not sure it worked. He was right. But he was wrong too.

The day progressed. I had 4 situations come up at work where I needed to respond as a human: I acted as a marketing leader helping a colleague find answers for his proposal. I acted as a mentor and backup to junior staff on her tough client phone call. I reached out to a teaming partner to pursue work together and offered advice and ideas. I also spent time to talk over a controversial teaming arrangement with colleagues. So after 9 hours at my desk, I billed 2 hours to clients, not 14. How will I spend my weekend? Finding 12 more hours to bill between household duties and justifying my existence to the boss? Or will I just stew and worry while I fold laundry, shop for food, and pay bills? Where is that technician to teach me how to prioritize my life’s mission with the expectations of others?

Challenge# 13: Do we and people surrounding us deserve to have our heart-centered minutes today without our fear or shame? Why do we deny them? How can we redefine our roles to allow the life affirming connections? How do we balance the Human with the Producer?

The bottom line is Connection = my Life Blood and tallying numbers for someone else is not a heart connection for me. Cold facts are not fulfilling… more to come on this!

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