A week ago I wrote an article about blessings in disguise and how my ankle injury has served as a catalyst for me to become fanatical about foot strengthening and increasing my awareness.
Well, before this realization hit me, I was still limping in to work and I made the mistake of scheduling one of the required medical appointments during part of a military exercise. I went in early one day to get an appointment before my shift and they could only see me at 2:25 pm the next day. I was doing a 2:00-10:00 pm shift and in the last couple of days it was pretty low activity during 2:30-3:30 pm. So I took a risk by getting the only appointment I could knowing that it was during my shift.
Well, to make a long story short, OF COURSE that’s when some thing BIG happened that needed my presence right then and there and one of my buddies had to step in for me. So first lesson is NEVER ASSUME.
Word gets back to my boss and now we need to have a sit down over this incident. Now, not only has my ankle injury been a kick to the nuts, I was about to get kicked in the nuts at work too. Great.
During our “counseling session” my boss mentioned that this is a problem at work too, this not knowing exactly where I am. Further, since I seem to only be enthused about working out and health he told me that this creates the perception that I put my personal goals above my professional commitments. As he kept talking I felt a sinking and tightening feeling in my internal organs. Half my attention was on my boss and half was inside my body as I am always scanning myself and am always very vigilant of when tension arises so I can release it. This was something different and I did not like it at all.
As I reflected on it, noting my LACK OF AWARENESS and LACK OF WISDOM, in this situation I realized that in a sense he was right. I plan my day and work my plan. I list out all the tasks and meetings I have to do and attend and I go do them. I enjoy having full autonomy to do my job and it was true that I did not tell people where I was going when I left my seat, I simply went and did what had to be done. Also, I recollected all the times that I had been told that I had done a “good job” on the important tasks I was entrusted. So it was not that I was unable to do my job well, but my lack of communication as to my whereabouts so they could have full accountability of me at all times that was the problem.
However, since I would talk a lot about fitness and health or my latest “experiment” this created a skewed perception. If they saw an empty seat and asked themselves where I was they assumed I was working out. Which also means I was not getting credit for all the face-to-face meetings I was conducting and all the Working Groups I was attending. Nature abhors a vacuum and when there is a lack of information people will fill in the gaps with whatever they think is the right answer, even if its wrong. Ironically, I only work out twice during the workweek since I happen to believe in these things called intensity and recovery.
Some of the blessings in disguise I got from this kick in the nuts is:
1. Shut up about your personal goals and projects at work unless asked
2. Communicate effectively what others need to know including your whereabouts
3. Perception is reality for the uninformed
However, what I really picked up, what really BLINDSIDED me was that I let myself be affected by the encounter. I realized that a lot of the things I do in the morning before work are meant to charge me up and this left me exposed. I have been trained to resist enemy interrogations, but when I am in what I considered to be a “safe” environment and a known entity suddenly comes at you unexpectedly I had no internal defenses and it exposed another chink in my armor.
Think about it, how many times are people most affected by the conflict or betrayal of those closest to them. I have now changed my morning routine to include more exercises to create a fortress of emotional control. Instead of walking around like an exposed livewire connecting with excitement to my environment at all times I have now learned to build layers of insulation around my core so that I am in control of my internal environment. This is the proverbial thick-skin that is brought about from all the scar tissue from getting chewed out. HA!
When the situation is right then I let the insulation peel off so I can connect directly to the environment and situation. I enjoy being candid and free a lot more than emotionally controlled.
To turn things around I have made sure that the first thing people see when they come to the office is my happy face in my seat because I arrived before all of them. I communicate all my whereabouts and activities so they know exactly what I am doing and where I am.
But to really turn things around, to really over-respond to the event in a positive manner, I wrote the following e-mail to my boss:
“I have reflected a lot since our last “conversation.”
I view the whole situation as a blessing in disguise, even though it did not “feel” like a blessing in disguise at the moment.
My view is that most things in life can be compared to a deadlift. Sometimes when people jump up in weight and pull without the proper form (or lose the form because of the heavier weight) they can round start to their backs and hurt themselves.
When this happens then people do partial reps, strengthen their core, work assistance lifts, and perfect their form/technique so they can get stronger and handle the heavier loads.
Perhaps I need to look at my rank in the same manner and I would like to set the strength and foundation to be a strong O-4 and future O-5.
Some things I picked up:
1) Accountability – let people know where I am. Nature abhors a vacuum and in an absence of information, if they see my empty desk people will think I am at the gym. Even though I only go to twice a week.
2) Correspondence – I will ensure I know what the proper format for correspondence is and QA it before I send it to you.
3) Anticipate needs – figure out what needs to be done and come up with a plan, if you ask me before I have my plan ready, then I will say “let me get back to you” so as not to make it on the spot in an ad hoc fashion.
I like the wisdom I earned. I did not like the way I “earned” it. It also struck me that we can turn this whole thing into a positive if we make it into a proactive game.
Every 1-2 weeks you can, if you choose, give me an area to focus (behavior, trait, skill) or an idea to ponder (philosophy, current event, etc) that you feel would make a good O-5.
Then we can get together and make course corrections if needed or move on to a new topic once the original area is taken care of.
Then we can work on this together by getting ahead of the power curve. You get to customize your AO in a way you want and I get to become a better officer.
It can be fun and we can enjoy our time together a lot more. I would rather have these type of “closed door” sessions with you.
Think about it and let me know what you think.”
Hopefully he will say yes to this proposal. I will find out on Monday. Either way, I have learned a lesson.
I had a lot of trepidation about sharing this post with all of you, but in the end I figured that this is my one outlet for creative expression and if it can help one person to learn from my mistakes then it will be worth it.
All my best,