When the Machine Has Taken the Soul from the Man

It Was Bound to Blow

That was true in Letter of the Law — but not quite this time.

These are good people in a place I just don’t belong. It’s a testament to them that I enjoyed it as much as I did for as long as I did. A slow-paced atmosphere was ideal for this particular time in my life.

And with good work, good-natured guys, and lots of laughs — it got cozy real quick.

Does this strike you as someone who finds comfort in cozy?

Workin’ all day in my daddy’s garage
Drivin’ all night chasing some mirage . . .

You have no idea

I learned early on in life that what you want gets in the way of what you see.

How you respond to criticism can be life-altering

And I would know — many times over . . .

I took some boxing lessons a lifetime ago, and I remember watching the trainer pound a medicine ball into those who were seemingly glutton for punishment. While I was not aiming to become a boxer, I had every intention of taking the same blows. 

Before that day arrived, I had always imagined the pummeling as an agonizing workout, but it turned out to be quite exhilarating — a rite of passage of sorts.

All along it was just an illusion I had created in my mind, and that fear was far worse than the reality.

The Teacher beats you with medicine to build up resistance that will ultimately protect you, but first you gotta be willing to trust that he’s not out to crack your ribs. Even spur-of-the-moment debates on unimportant matters can be invaluable training when you enter the ring with sincerity.

Think of uncomfortable encounters as intellectual sparring to keep your mind in shape.

The main point to me is that [the players] have to be coordinated, and the 10 people have to support what that 11th guy is doing, and vice versa. . . .

The only way that can happen is for there to be discipline, for everyone to be disciplined enough to do their job, knowing the guy beside him is doing his, too, so that you can count on him and he can count on you, and go right down the line.

Since I was 16 years old

I’ve never not been pursuit of some big goal. And with what I’ve got going on for a while now, a low-key job was just fine. That left me enough gas in the tank to keep plowing ahead on my larger purpose before and after work.

But there was time when I put all that aside to work day and night for 2 weeks straight. Nobody asked me to — I did it because it needed to be done.

Had I done my job right in the first place, I wouldn’t have been in that situation — so I owed to my employer and myself.

We had this MOCK deployment day coming up, and it became increasingly clear to me that I was not properly prepared. The work was done way too casually in a piecemeal manner, and it just wasn’t solid & structured enough for something of this importance.

So I retooled the code — and was still testing and fine-tuning at 4:00 AM the morning of MOCK.

Outside of a component out of sequence, the deployment was flawless.

But out of nowhere, Cool Cat comes to me making a fuss out of something he was dead wrong about. He’s one of the best colleagues I’ve ever had, which is why I was stunned to see behavior so out of sync with how he rolls.

I knew what he was thinking and why, but I politely played along so as not to make him feel bad for the silly mistake he was making. He was glued to his perception at first. Instead of simply asking me to clear up his concern, he was racing to conclusions fueled on assumptions.

A lot of that goin’ around

At least he eventually he came around — some never will while wrapping themselves in the flag of #winning.

In fairness

Retooling the code changed the way we doing something and he wasn’t aware of it (which was my fault for not making it clear before MOCK). But I had full authority to make these judgment calls, and it just comes with the job to adjust in light of new information.

“Retooling the code” sounds more involved than what it really is. This was pretty simple stuff, and Cool Cat does analysis on far more demanding requirements. So this is nothing more than somebody carrying baggage on a belief that just isn’t true.

A lifetime ago, I had colleague correct me on something I thought couldnt be done (as I was coming from a different database platform). Rather to cling to a belief based in my own experience — I let him enlighten me with his. We had impromptu meeting with a whiteboard, and minutes later it was all cleared up.

Next team meeting — I openly thanked him for correcting me.

Seek to Understand Before You Seek to Be Understood

Cool Cat and I worked it out and all was well after that, but I sent him a message to explain my concerns about the incident. I don’t really care that it happened, I just care that we learn from it.

Not a word in reply

I didn’t appreciate that but I let it go — chalking it up as someone having a bad day. My instincts know better, but I sure didn’t see this next one coming. Once again, Cool Cat went Jekyll and Hyde:

Hijacking my meeting and becoming the catalyst for my departure.

What a wonderful world this would be . . .

We’re here to listen, we’re here to learn . . .

Ford: Rebuilding an American Icon tells of the company’s comeback after its largest-ever loss of $12.7 billion in 2006. At the helm of its turnaround was Alan Mulally — who faced quality concerns by embracing criticism from Consumer Reports.

When he says the following, it’s not some fancy quote to float — it’s a mindset that makes all the difference in the world:

We’re gonna seek to understand before we seek to be understood.

This 2:20 scene shows what serious-minded leaders look like (and not just Mulally). Ya gotta hand it to the great-grandson of Henry Ford for having the humility to see what was best for the company by putting the right person in place:

Mulally didn’t invent the phrase — but his version flows a bit better than Stephen Covey’s from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The synopsis for the “seek to understand” tenet is as follows:

Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving.

I had a choice

And it’s a testament to the character of my manager that I did. Though I respect him, my philosophy is worlds apart from his — and most people, for that matter. How he handled the situation that follows made my choice an easy one:

I don’t belong there — and I always knew it.

But it was a good job, I was damn lucky to have it, and it was lot of fun — as these guys are sharp as a razor with their wisecracks.

Ol’ 17 talks a bit more about the fine traits of that team and a narrow avenue of possibility that could have kept me there. It all boils down to Bacon’s quote below — same goes for my plans on the move this very moment.

Connoisseur of Silver Linings

Many times I’ve written consumed with rage over how I was treated, but this ain’t one of ’em. I maintain a certain degree of disgust to capture the spirit of the story, but Hold on Partner is how I actually feel.

Well you said it yourself
You got a lot on the ball
And you’ll bounce back
Each time you fall . . .

It’s an up and down world and you can’t change it
Might get a chance to rearrange it
If you hold on partner good things are coming to you

practice makes principle

I didn’t coin “connoisseur of silver linings” out of thin air. But before I got this job, I began to wonder if my luck had run out. A lifetime of principle caught up to me a long time ago.

But then this company came around and represented themselves perfectly — which is about as rare as unobtanium on Pandora these days. It was the right job for the time, and regardless of how things ended — I’m immeasurably grateful for it.


Head Honcho in Letter of the Law is nothing like Head Honcho in this story.

Head Honcho here — delivered

He and I established an understanding from the start, so I was free to go to him anytime I felt the need was serious enough. It wasn’t meant to be taken as going over my manager’s head, but there’s no way around that reality in effect.

Grizzly Adams is a good man and a good manager — who does a lot of great work (handling many things more smoothly than I ever could). But he was still a developer until last year — and he hasn’t made the transition in mentality between the two roles yet. I’m not sure he ever will, as he had his moment and blew it — twice!

He’s got the goods if he would just get out of his own way.

If I were in his shoes and feeling a bit undermined by a subordinate seeking help from a higher power — I’d see opportunity written all over it. I wouldn’t care about the impression it makes with the team and what Head Honcho might be thinking.

If I’m in Head Honcho‘s shoes, I’m mainly interested in seeing how Grizzly adjusts. I’d handle this in the exact opposite manner than most people: I’d go to Head Honcho to understand everything I told him, and then I’d have a meeting with me and find out everything I left out.

That slip in confidence has history — and I’d wanna know it all so I could harness that information in full.

But that’s me — and these people . . .

Turns out, Grizzly was “tired” of my unsolicited advice.

If only he knew how much didn’t tell ’em. What never ceases to amaze me is how managers can do so many things so well, and then blow it on baseline behavioral problems — catering to personalties instead of dealing with them directly.

So you end up with this uncurrent of complaining safely behind the lines — where griping becomes fashionable.

Worse than that is when your manager is the ringleader (acting as though he were still a developer). It’s a helluva lot more fun with a guy like Grizzly runnin’ the show, and you don’t wanna ruin that essence by taking it too far in the other direction.

Like everything else, it’s about balance. Ya don’t have to go so far as Saving Private Ryan — just don’t make it fashionable.

I don’t gripe to you, Reiben. I’m a Captain. There’s a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, so on, so on and so on. I don’t gripe to you, I don’t gripe in front of you.

IACT

I never made fun of that company credo of theirs, but I’m guilty of going along by not objecting. A younger version of me never backed off on anything. But again, here and there is one thing — fashionable is another.

I’m keenly aware that companies don’t deliver on their claims in most cases, but I would never mock their attempts to at least try. And keep in mind — the people who put these ideas in place are sincere in their creativity and craft.

It’s not their fault that management doesn’t follow through on the ideals in their messaging.

While my stay was short at Sally Beauty a few years back, it was memorable with great people and an invigorating atmosphere. I loved walking into this office, and my experience with the resident Rollo Tomassi doesn’t change the promise of possibilty in these words.

It would unthinkable for me to mock them.

When the wall was finished, I remember mumblings in the vein of IACT ribbing. And yet the guy who’s been treated like shit for standing his ground on such words for decades:

Defended the wall for all that it’s worth in those words.

But if you wildly oversell your shop, we’re gonna have other words. If you have a Vision & Values handbook — I shouldn’t have to convince you to abide by some semblance of it.

We don’t want to pressure them, as it might backfire

You mean the “pressure” that’s defined in your handbook that spells out the very expectations I espouse?

I could have cranked out the crappiest code imaginable, and as long as long as it “worked” and met my monthly quota, I’d be on track for a full bonus.

I wasn’t about to waste my time repeatedly trying to convince these people of what they claimed in the interviews. 3 months into the job, I grabbed my goods and walked by the big-shot’s office — took that book above, tossed it on his desk and said:

This book is a fraud!

Tossed my badge as well and walked out the door.

You cannot be, I know, nor do I wish to see you an inactive Spectator, but if the Sword be drawn I bid adieu to all domestick felicity, and look forward to that Country where there is neither wars nor rumors of War in a firm belief that thro the mercy of its King we shall both rejoice there together.

I greatly fear that the arm of treachery and violence is lifted over us as a Scourge and heavy punishment from heaven for our numerous offences, and for the misimprovement of our great advantages.

If we expect to inherit the blessings of our Fathers, we should return a little more to their primitive Simplicity of Manners, and not sink into inglorious ease.

We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.

— Abigail Adams, 16 October 1774

Abigail and I go way back . . .

The banks built my career

And I’m eternally grateful to them. This isn’t Occupy Wall Street — I don’t do The Big Bad or any other kind of indiscriminate scrunity. I’m not keen on conventional approaches to protesting, and I had no interest getting in anyone’s way to bring attention to my cause.

My prime directive was that I would not engage unless engaged first.

I let my A-frame convey my message, but I was happy to talk to anyone who approached me. And if I’m gonna spend a few hours hangin’ around, I’ll make the most of it with some good reading.

A gentleman in a suit walked up to me one morning and said:

I really respect the way you’re doing this

Manner matters

I exhausted every avenue before I put those names on the sign.

As shown in the original rig, there was no Fraudulent 5 component to the protest — and nobody cared. Within minutes of showing up with the new addition and banners to boot, they cared.

It created quite a stir in the neighborhood, and I was threatened with a lawsuit if I didn’t take it down. I didn’t budge one bit. I had the Constitution on my side, but even more important than that — I had the truth.

A courtesy — for those who showed me none . . .

We need to realize that something very wrong is going on here, and it goes much deeper than Bank of America and 5 guys on a sign.

Grizzly doesn’t fully understand the importance of setting the right tone with a team. I would have taken the opposite tack in his shoes. That regardless of what goes on around us — we can live up to the ideals in IACT:

And learn from it when we fall short . . .


Back in April

I sent out an email explaining a big problem with their source database — which would cause serious peformance problems if not fixed. Using irrefutable evidence, I explained the problem and provided options to resolve it.

We had a meeting with the person in charge of it — and while she was receptive, I found it strange that she requested more information instead of acting on what could not be more clear.

This entire project hinges on that database — so it’s kind of a big deal.

I didn’t get the sense it was going anywhere, and with good reason — that’s the tone that’s set in this shop. I don’t excuse myself for failing to press the issue, but there was time when there’s no way in hell I’d like that go.

Not that I gave up on it — it’s just I got casual in my willingness to push. I got cozy and began to buy into the narrative. And that — is so not me.

Fast forward a few months: I’m sitting in a meeting minding my own business — until I was reminded of the glaringly obvious issues with their business. It boggles the mind that people who can manage things far more involved than my observations — don’t deal with low-hanging fruit can cripple a project and build in confusion when left to rot.

Back to that in a bit. As politely as possible, I told the Business Analyst that the code he was writing needs to factor for the I issue I raised back in April.

But my real aim was to raise awareness to the problem so we could fix it.

And someone was listening

The support manager immedialy understood the ramifications and started asking questions. He was eagerly interested in seeing my email from April. I said I’d forward it to him and the BA requested it as well.

Just one problem with that last part: I did send it to him in April.

By itself — a simple oversight: Except it’s not when you consider the chronic communcation issues involved. But that support manager did not disappoint — adding more questions to the conversation and copying a bunch of people on it to boot.

Now I’ve got my in. But I was taking no chances this time, so I added Head Honcho to the list of recipients.

Next thing ya know — he’s asking good questions and I’m answering. A few days later, problem solved — precisely as I recommended 3 months before. What does it say about the rest of their operation — that they could gloss over something so important yet so simple to fix?

In any case, I was thrilled — for the business and for lighting a match to that on-fire feeling I hadn’t felt for so long: To truly care and make a difference in something outside my immediate sphere of influence.

As June Carter Cash was fond of saying:

I’m just trying to matter . . .

Whiteboard Way

Cool Cat is multitalented and essential to the success we’ve had (not to mention being pure joy to work with 99% of the time). So it was no surprise that when I raised another key concern nobody else knew about, he played a key role in fleshing out what we needed to know.

Cool Cat connected with French Press (a marvel at digging where no one dared to go) — and they had a meeting that led to some new discoveries about the concern I raised.

Cool Cat updated me in a subsequence call — and it became crystal clear what we needed to do. The best way to get the remaining answers was to go straight to the source — the guy who did the original diagram.

And here we go again with griping — as Flowchart has a reputation for being difficult. I saw some of that myself, but when trying to solve a problem — I don’t understand this fixation on what we can’t do. Because a colleague has a history — we should just thow up our hands and go with griping?

I’ve been down this road before, and all those who cited their excuses were wrong. I found a way — while they settled on giving up and griping.

Head Honcho to the rescue

It’s in my financial interests to keep my mouth shut and let companies waste time and money while I collect mine. I did that for a long time here, but the heat of that ol’ flame felt good. So I requested a meeting with Head Honcho to voice all my concerns.

I’m interested in hearing what you have to say

I believed him — and with good reason, he was true to his word and never let me down. We talked for 2 hours and it quite a fruitful call. When I was meeting with Cool Cat and saw him work his magic on mock-ups, it gave me an idea for how we could approach Flowchart the same way.

And since this was already part of that talk with Head Honcho, I’d go straight to him to give the go-ahead. Ironically, I was only concerned about getting flexibilty from Flowchart — but he went along just fine.

Cool Cat had other ideas. He’s the careful type — so he wasn’t keen on having his name attached to my idea. I didn’t care, but I thought it was odd that I had to repeatedly tell him that I wouldn’t say “we” in the email.

I knew he wanted me to go to Grizzly instead, but other than that and not wanting his fingerprints on it, I didn’t realize that he deeply he objected to the idea itself. I tell ya what — if I object to your idea, you’re not gonna have to interpret how I feel about it.

And this is hardly some newfangled idea on splitting the atom — as whiteboard meetings happen every day. Moreover, the very thing that prompted my idea — was the success that came out of Cool Cat working his magic on whiteboards.

So forgive me for failing to grasp what the problem is with closing the loop on this conservation by roping in the source to help clear everything up in one fell swoop.

And upcoming work of paramount importance hinges on what comes out of that call — so there’s that.

Something was off from the get-go

Grizzly Adams was optional, and yet Cool Cat was waiting on him for no reason. When I asked him to start the screenshare with the diagram document, he acted like he didn’t even know what we were doing here.

Which document?

Never mind it was explicitly spelled out out in my email proposal — to which Head Honcho wrote, “Makes sense” and asked Grizzly Adams to facilitate. Cool Cat was stalling — embarrassing our team in front a key source on a project we needed answers on.

He had every opportunity to object and offer an alternative approach – which I’d be happy to hear.

Not a peep

No, the griper was going for a grandstanding moment to make his bold move — objecting to my approach in safe mode. After we finally got going and he properly shared some history on how this meeting came about:

What followed next is one of the most unprofessional things I’ve ever seen.

And that’s saying a lot.

On paper and even in person with some people: What he said won’t register for how out of line it really is, as society has lost all sense of itself on what virtues look like in action. If you delivered on your claims, how come America doesn’t reflect any of the habits listed below?

And yet my record reflects all of ’em.

Look around!

I just want to say that I don’t agree with the approach we’re taking here

— Cool Cat

What the hell are you doing?

Was my silent reaction to him pointlessly poisoning my meeting right out of the gate.

I was so disgusted by him derailing our discussion that I don’t remember what else he said right after that. It took every ounce of restraint I had to calmly respond with something along the lines of:

As long as we’re being honest, I don’t appreciate what you just did — that was totally unprofessional.

To which he replied

No, it wasn’t unprofessional

I defy anyone on the planet to make that argument.

Cool Cat was way off the mark in both knowledge and professionalism on his MOCK I blunder. Hops on a call with me and before he takes a breath, hops on another — fumbling about in the confusion of his own making.

He was embarrassing himself — and by blowing off my concerns, he didn’t learn a damn thing. And here we are again. He was dead set on delivering his objection without an atom of concern for any other considerations.

He wasn’t serving the business — he was serving himself (ego or whatever the hell he had goin’ on in his head).

After all their griping about meetings and colleagues in question, what did I do to deserve this disrespect when you’ve shown nothing of the kind to anyone else? I think I held two group meetings the entire time I was there.

Ya couldn’t show me a little courtesy and just do your job?

I needed your help — not your attitude.

But hey, if your principled stance devoid of an idea of your own — is so precious to ya, don’t come. Just lemme know in advance and we’ll manage with my poor penmanship and French Press pressing.

I guarantee you, Grizzly knows it’s unprofessional. You accepted the meeting. We’ll all here. You had your chance to openly object, and ya didn’t. Grizzly had his chance to chime in, he didn’t.

We’re here because you and French Press made progess & you and I added a bit more (using the same approach we’re about to here).

Some back and forth I don’t recall, but I was boiling at that point. This guy’s been dickin’ around delaying this deal from the start — carefully timing his move so his good buddy Grizzly could along for the ride.

I’d just had it

I could write much more about all the good in this company, but an atmosphere ill-suited to my taste had taken its toll. After all I was willing to tolerate for a time in my life, here we are ready to rock and get some answers — and this guy gets in the way.

Job or no job, no way in hell I let that slide.

And this “take it offline” tactic has gotten totally out of hand. The lack of transparency in these problems is precisely why so many of them persist.

I don’t care what anyone thinks of what I said — he had it comin’:

If you’ve got a problem, take it up with Head Honcho — otherwise get that goddamn thing on your screen and let’s get to work.

that — no doubt registered

It was explained to me that, outside the Mission Control room, it could get downright heated . . . that it was allowed . . . that the NASA etiquette, allowed for screaming matches when it was about the work, when it was about solving the problem.

How could ya have a heartbeat and not be inspired by that?

By the Charmin-soft standards of today, you can forget about having all the conveniences we take for granted. That level of excellence didn’t happen without some people going NASA from time to time — hammering it out with purity of purpose.

And ya know what, most of ’em probably got right back to work the moment the argument was over, because real pros have the ability to bounce back at a moment’s notice.

It’s telling that the person who was furious over this — could snap out of it in a second and get right back to work.

If you wanna make a federal case out of me unloading on you for being a prick and poisoning my meeting, go right ahead. But can ya at least suck it up long enough to do your job and finish what we set out to do?

Oh, forgive me — I

Well, I guess that’s the end of this meeting

— Cool Cat

That figures — on so many levels . . .

People like that will never know how those moments of truth can define your future.

And I would know — many times over.

And steel is strong because it knew the hammer and white heat

you can do both

You can rise to the occasion and do right by your employer — and when we’re done, deal with the guy who dropped the hammer on you. By the letter of the law, it’s a fireable offense and I can live with that — as I know the rules and I broke ’em.

It’s the lie of it all I can’t stand:

Pompous & paint-by-numbers reprimand leveled at the guy who brings problems to the forefront — while the real issues are swept under the rug or slapped with a band-aid at best.

I’ve been dealing with this crap my entire adult life — and then some!

Note

While there are elements of the above in what recently happened — those people treated me humanely for the most part. Others had no such notion . . .

Justice and decency are carried in the heart of the captain, or they be not aboard

— Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

Why would anyone jeopardize a high-paying job that they love? I feel a deep sense of duty to my customers, as they’re the reason I live a life of endless fulfillment in problem solving.

Since I get to learn and grow in all kinds of ways that serve my interests, shouldn’t I seek to do the same to serve theirs? If I were running a company, you’d check your ego at the door or you wouldn’t work there. I may never find such a place, so I’ve had to make concessions for the totally unnecessary.

But just how far should I be asked to lower the bar?

Fun fact: Elara is one of Jupiter’s moons.

What the powers that be in most companies don’t get — is that you create more conflict in cultures that go to excessive lengths to avoid it. It’s just that the conflict is concealed in subtleties that disguise mounting frustration and waste.

While you put out your PR and pretend this undercurrent of crap doesn’t exist.

If you’re not embarrassed by the leadership involved in this story, I have to wonder what it would take.

Over the Moon is the synopsis of the story.

And right on cue, Head Honcho hunkered down in his halo like his kin that came before him. How they see themselves so upright is sickening.

I assure you

This way of life is much more interesting and enlightening . . .

Grizzly doesn’t get it

This isn’t the first time this has occurred during this project albeit with different parties but we need to find a way to work together going forward etc.

I know that tone . . .

Grizzly Adams is no Rollo Tomassi (nor is Cool Cat or anyone else there).

I didn’t purposely ignore that invite — I went AWOL for a walk and didn’t log back in till the next morning. That there was a meeting invite at all is another testament to how these people set themselves apart.

That’s to be honored and appreciated — regardless of the rest.

It wasn’t the first time I’d had a run-in with a teammate, as Grizzly alluded to in the invite — conveniently forgetting the ongoing griping on that very issue I brought to light. That the culprit is an exceptional resource I wish I had on every job I’ve ever had — doesn’t change the fact that he’s got some quirks that needed to be addressed.

One of which was how French Press had a habit of interrupting me and answering on assumption instead of understanding what I was saying first. I never took it personally — it’s just his way. But it’s unprofessional and not smart.

How about that for a company credo?

I tried twice before to address it one-on-one with him to no avail. He did it one too many times one morning in a team meeting, and I called him on it. Once I opened the door, I opened another — as the behavioral traits were related.

Grizzly tried to settle it down by saying:

We’re all frustrated with the project . . .

That’s not gonna fly with me — I can’t stand when people take that tack: Whitewashing reality to avoid having to deal with it. That’s what this is as all about in the first place — company-wide habits of letting problems linger.

And if Grizzly doesn’t take care of issues completely under his control — what kind of confidence should I have in his handling of concerns outside of it?

No, I’m frustrated with French Press!

It got heated — real quick. Good! Now we’re talking . . .

And it’s about time

Even as French Presh was yelling at me, I maintained my respect for the top-notch quality of his work — and made that abundantly clear (saying he’s one of the best I’ve ever seen at the way he digs and keep digging). He’s got the goods on coding skills to boot.

They’re damn lucky to have him, and if they’re smart — they’ll keep him.

As for his gross breach in professional conduct — you’d be out of your mind to get rid of a guy like that over an argument. To their credit, Grizzly and Head Honcho joined forces to investigate the problem and beautifuly dealt with it.

Doing their job by talking to each of us in separate meetings to understand the situation before racing to conclusions.

Imagine!

French Press never cut me off again — and made marked improvements on the other issue as well. That’s your job, Grizzly — not mine. But you put me a position to deal with a problem you were unwilling to. Even in the face of it all on the phone, you tried to redirect the frustration — mainly because you’re such a nice guy.

If you really wanna grow as a manager — you need to go Cruel to Be Kind sometimes.

Early on in COVID, I was ridiculed for refusing to take a position on something I knew nothing about.

I’m old-fashioned that way

A lot of things are old-fashioned on here — and my willingness to admit mistakes is one of ’em. With the right spirit, you can even have fun with it — as I did in Elephant in the Room Award.

Acknowledging error is liberating and leads to enlightenment.

On my Precision Matters profile site, I See You Fell on Your Sword is about taking responsibility — even though my manager had already covered me on my mistake.

Houston, We Have a Problem is about the February freeze — and the importance of looking out for others.

We lose sight of that sometimes, and it’s good to be reminded — as I was.

But that’s me

I’ve been at this a really long time — so it’s as easy for me to welcome criticism as it is difficult for others. I’m looking for the value on the other side of offense, and if there’s some to be found, I’ll find it.

And finding that truth — might refine how I see the rest. Whatever the outcome, it’s a worthy endeavor of discovery.

Lara walked along the tracks following a path worn by pilgrims and then turned into the fields. Here she stopped and, closing her eyes, took a deep breath of the flower-scented air of the broad expanse around her. It was dearer to her than her kin, better than a lover, wiser than a book. For a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life.

She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment and to call each thing by its right name, or, if this were not within her power, to give birth out of love for life to successors who would do it in her place.

― Doctor Zhivago (referenced in Into the Wild)

4 Litttle Dots ::

I’m not into kumbaya moments to get past disagreements and conflict. And while some shared reflection by all parties involved would be nice, I’ll take anything as an avenue of movement.

So when I saw an email from French Press with his double-colon signature :: — my first thought:

That’ll do

I replied with some comedic commentary coupled with sincere appreciation of his signature style — as well sharing where it’s part of some programming languages.

Some back and forth fun and we were off and running — better than ever.

Cool Cat has no such notion

Had I seen “I screwed up” from him the next morning, here’s my reponse:

Good enough — let’s get back to work

Without a word from Cool Cat — and one look at this “we’ve seen this before” bit topped off with jargon about “going forward,” I know where this is going.

Still better by far than most these days — but it’s a pretty low bar.

I guarantee you, Grizzly knows it’s unprofessional

I was wrong to assume so . . .

But I was thinking about the position of a manager without a connection to Cool Cat: That surely they would know that there’s no universe in which his behavior was professional.

Beginning of the End

Richard W. Memmer: Do you and others really not recognize how egregiously out of line that was?

Grizzly Adams: The entire call was unprofessional. Worst call I have ever been on in my over 20 something years in dozens of prcjects etc. Thankfully the only other person on the call was Flowchart. Anyone that listens to the recording of it can testify to that.

Richard W. Memmer: That’s not what I asked you . . .

How we deflected the question with “the entire call was unprofessional” — is a classic comeback in the culture we’ve been fashioning for decades. By the letter of the law, what I did was a fireble offense no matter what the other person did.

Let’s leave that aside for the moment.

Richard W. Memmer: Do you and others really not recognize how egregiously out of line that was?

Yes or no?

It’s indefensible! Don’t you know that?

But because my reaction came in full-bore force with profanity, that becomes the entire focus. So instead of asking yourself if you’ve ever seen anything like what he did, it becomes entirely about what I did.

I’ve been in IT since 1998 — and I’ve never seen such blatant rudeness at the beginning of a meeting like that. This is not someone who said, “I don’t approve of this approach and I’ve got a better idea.”

Even coupled with a better idea, that tone would be inappropriate — since you could simply say:

Hey, I’ve been thinking about this and I’ve come up with a better way

But unless you came up the idea moments before the meeting, it would not be courteous to come out of nowhere and suck the life out of meeting before it even begins.

Another approach would be to say that you’ve come up with another idea, and you’d like to discuss our options before we proceed with the meeting.

That — is perfectly fair

Even if you’re obnoxious and have a better idea, I’ll take it. But if you come out of nowhere with “I don’t approve of this approach” — and you’ve got nothing to offer, you’ve poisoned the entire meeting to cover your own ass or whatever the hell you’re up to.

And if the meeting had gone south and my plan failed — then you could say, “I told so!” in all your glory. Even if along the way it wasn’t working out, you could say:

I don’t think this is working

But to not even give it a shot (never mind the progress we’d already made using the same approach): Let’s just say you got the polite version of how I really felt about it.

And for record: I was being polite when I called Cool Cat’s mistake “silly. It was arrogant, sloppy, and stupid to just flail about while being completely wrong while assuming you’re right.

Your company’s paying for a person with expertise in the territory in question — why not get your money’s worth by listening instead of jumping to conclusions?

The entire call was unprofessional . . .

To have intellectual integrity in examing an issue, you must isolate each aspect of what’s in question. In today’s culture, it’s extremely rare to find that anymore.

In fairness

I saw some of that in the aftermath of the incident with French Press. Grizzly and Head Honcho did an exceptional job of isolating and inquiring. The problem is that Grizzly didn’t learn what I needed to discover most.

There was more to what happened on MOCK than just a bad day for Cool Cat. He had something in his mind and wouldn’t let it go. And lo and behold — he just had to open his mouth and ruin my meeting. He had something on his mind and of course he was right.

Ya know, like last time.

The entire call was unprofessional . . .

Says to me that it’s all a wash in your eyes, that you’re taking the the easy way it out, and that you missed it — again!

The last place Grizzly’s gonna look is where he should have started.

Once Grizzly and I got on the phone, it was over in 2 minutes.

It finally came out

I’m gettin’ tired you telling me [how to do this and that]

Well at least now we’re communicating, and you just told me all I need to know. I told him I’d do 2 weeks of knowledge transfer or whatever he wanted, and that I wanted transferred off his team.

Naturally, I knew there was almost no chance that would happen — particularly as a contractor who just scolded a colleague.

Anyone . . . can testify to that . . .

Yeah, but only one person knows the whole story. If I were in their shoes, even if I knew I was going to bounce me out the door — I’d wanna know how it came to this so that I learn and leverage it to the fullest.

But that’s me

My aim was always to find a home where I could settle in for an ever-evolving future — a quest for belonging in the right company, with a crew that continually hones its craft.

I wanted one tiny space in the world where people do right by one another — and rise to the occasion when they don’t.

It was just a dream, so I’ve had to repeatedly lower my expectations if I wanted to continue in this career. All I ask for now is that people be in the ballpark of their beliefs, but even that seems too much to ask.

My concessions could never keep up with the pace of pampering that plagues our society — as I’ve always clashed with a culture that increasingly values bullshit as currency.

Rollo‘s behavior became normalized that way.

And so did yours

When the machine has taken the soul from the man
It’s time to leave something behind . . .
Oh, the future ahead is already dead
And I’m just trying to leave something behind

Button your lip and don’t let the shield slip
Take a fresh grip on your bulletproof mask
And if they try to break down your disguise with their questions
You can hide hide hide behind Paranoid Eyes

People really don’t listen.

People are just either not that interested in what you’re saying, or they are too focused on their own agenda. It’s ridiculous to see two people acting like they can’t really hear each other — by choice.

In “The Significance Principle,” authors Les Carter and Jim Underwood posit that we should listen past where the other person has finished. We should even pause before answering. Let them get their point, their story, their compliment, and even their criticism out. Completely. . . .

The ability to hear is a gift. The willingness to listen is a choice.

— Mike Greene

“It’s your title — that’s the problem”:

Not the events that led to this cesspool of certitude America has become. That takes time & effort to digest: Why bother doing that when you can just blame the person who takes you to task for the endless bullshit you’re willing to believe.

Poisoning the waters of possibility with pride . . .

Deep down, the dream lives on . . .

When you see your ship go sailing
When you feel your heart is breaking
Hold on tight to your dream

It’s a long time to be gone
Time just rolls on and on
When you need a shoulder to cry on
When you get so sick of trying
Hold on tight to your dream

When you get so down that you can’t get up
And you want so much but you’re all out of luck
When you’re so downhearted and misunderstood
Just over and over and over you could . . .

When you see the shadows falling
When you hear that cold wind calling
Hold on tight to your dream . . .

2 Comments

  1. After reading this whole thing, I can’t help but think that it would be best to have some sort of method to air out everything, instead of tamping it down, and letting it become a raging fire later.
    Does that make sense to you?

    Like

    1. Thank you kindly for reading and offering your thoughts! That sounds good in theory but I’ve been down this road too many times before. In Letter of the Law, I tried addressing the problem multiple times in multiple ways, but in the end — it still blew up. If the people in charge refuse to recognize their responsibility in being a leader, and they’ve already had one thing blow up before (and clearly there are problems — otherwise I wouldn’t be seeking help above them): At that point it’s just not something that can simply be explained, because the desire to know just isn’t there. They think it is — and they might go through the motions, but it just doesn’t register.

      Think about it this way: You appropriately offered a comment “After reading this whole thing.” On an issue of this nature, even if you had totally disagreed with me, that’s fair — because you did your part by digesting the arguments.

      The reason this entire site exists in the first place — is that people are miserably failing to do their part (even after you explain how they didn’t). And we’re not just talking “After reading this whole thing” — I’ll settle for just understanding the point and responding on that. But they don’t want to put the time in to even get that far.

      I added this quote to the story and it perfectly captures this idea:

      ******************************

      People really don’t listen.

      People are just either not that interested in what you’re saying, or they are too focused on their own agenda. It’s ridiculous to see two people acting like they can’t really hear each other — by choice.

      In “The Significance Principle,” authors Les Carter and Jim Underwood posit that we should listen past where the other person has finished. We should even pause before answering. Let them get their point, their story, their compliment, and even their criticism out. Completely. . . .

      The ability to hear is a gift. The willingness to listen is a choice.

      — Mike Greene

      ******************************

      I recently created a companion site as a portal to the plan I have in mind — but also to use it to make a point by just raising a question on the single page on the site (which acts a portal to point back to this one).

      If I ask you, “Do You Know Who Thomas Sowell Is?” — how do you know where I’m going with that? But that’s just it, the people who worship that guy, instantly see “Do You Know Who Thomas Sowell Is?” as a positive, because they seemingly live to promote this guy. So asking that question is baked into their attitude and language in how they approach others to broadcast his “brillance.”

      My prediction was right on the money — as I had people Like my tweet on that question and link (never mind they had no idea what was in it). I came up with that idea by asking that question on a seemingly unrelated topic on YouTube, and the guy immediately began mocking me. Six short sentences later, he would have seen that he’s assailing me on something we agree on. I get that a lot.

      On evidence involving artillery rockets and material properties of centrifuge rotors — the apostles of Sowell smugly cite his books on economics, race, and whatnot. One Tweet is all it should take:

      Thomas Sowell flagrantly failed to follow the facts on Iraq WMD — opting to peddle party-line talking points that poison political discourse & butcher debate to this day. Here’s my 7-part documentary that exhaustively details the biggest and most costly lie in modern history:

      Prologue

      So here’s how this childish game works: They’re not gonna watch my doc, but they’ll breeze through my site (not watching any clips from the doc) — and then ridicule my writing becasue it’s “confusing.”

      As I wrote on The Sheer Stupidity of America is Staggering:
      If you refuse to look at the evidence — how can I convince you of anything? I put it all on a silver platter, but you wouldn’t consider 160 seconds, let alone 160 minutues. I do all the work, you do nothing and consider nothing — then blame me for failing to convince you?

      And from Tolstoy’s Not Talkin’ About Me — He’s Talkin’ About You:

      Tolstoy’s Not Talkin’ About Me — He’s Talkin’ About You

      ******************************************

      The notion that it’s my fault you can’t find your way to the truth through my maze of a website — is preposterous, particularly because you have a choice: The documentary is structured to the hilt — so it’s much easier to digest. Why would I repeat that approach — when I’m dealing with your obstinate refusal to watch it in the first place?

      With just a little inquiry and an ounce of decency — you could gain some insight into why my material is arranged in ways you’ve never seen. And when you’re seeing it for the first time — you’re unaware of the endless efforts to reach your kin who came before you:

      It is as though with some people — those who most avidly embrace the “we are right” view — have minds that are closed from the very get-go, and they are entirely incapable of opening them, even just a crack. There is no curiosity in them. There are no questions in their minds. There are no “what ifs?” or “maybes.”

      — Laura Knight-Jadczyk

      So spare me your cries that my site is at fault for your failure to find the truth. I’ve heard it all and I’ve seen it all — as your kind always has an excuse laced with self-satisfied scorn. You skim my site and instantly issue your “where’s your facts?” refrain of an automaton. If you don’t wanna watch my documentary that’s chock-full of facts on this fiasco for the ages, that’s your prerogative.

      But don’t bitch about what you don’t see when you refuse to look. In a country more concerned with criticizing websites than people who lied this nation into war: You think reaching hermetically sealed minds is just a matter of following a formula? For people who can’t comprehend the complexities in explaining interrelated stories of America’s decline over decades of delight in the Gutter Games of Government: You would think that!

      ******************************************

      The astute obserser would recognize that the real answer to “Do You Know Who Thomas Sowell Is?” — is that none of them do (even those who know him best). This man is a fraud — a liar and a hypocrite who gets away with it because of the “National Treasure” echo chamber around him.

      And then someone comes along who wrote and produced a documentary on the biggest and most costly lie in modern history — and discovers that Sowell did the exact opposite of everything he is hailed as a hero for. It could not be more obvious, and yet I’m been practically spit for telling the undeniable truth (as I have been for nearly 20 years on this topic).

      On evidence involving artillery rockets and material properties of centrifuge rotors — the apostles of Sowell smugly cite his books on economics, race, and whatnot: Anything to glorify him as they abandon any notion of accountability. These people do nothing but question my motives, mock my site, and assault my character — then proudly post quotes of Sowell looking stately as he condemns the very thing they’re doing.

      We created a culture where people would rather raise objections to the title “The Sheer Stupidity of America is Staggering” than consider how it came to mind. It’s the exact same principle with what just happened in my job (though that is nowhere near the same extreme).

      I’d have more luck reaching Helen Keller — or anyone with an inkling of desire to understand something that doesn’t cater to your cravings. A grade-schooler would grasp my arguments with ease, as they haven’t yet learned to look away from the obvious. On a matter of world-altering consequence — hermetically sealed minds make it impossible to establish even this much: . . .

      “I’d have more luck reaching Helen Keller ” vs “The Sheer Stupidity of America is Staggering”: Why bother investigating the former to find out how I’ve been treated like shit for decades — when you can offer pearls of wisdom about “calling people stupid is not an appropriate way to reach people.”

      Well maybe if you’d tried this tack: “After reading this whole thing” — you’d realize it’s about their actions how they’re insulting their own intelligence. But “reading this whole thing” would take work, and who wants to do that — when you can waste time commenting on the same shit every goddamn day — formatted to your liking:

      Nice and linear, easy to swallow, short and simple, and effortless to spread. Ya know, the crap that created Crap-is-King culture in the first place.

      Funny thing you mentioned a “method” — because that’s what this is all about, an idea that could turn the tide:

      Behold the Legacy of Your Beloved Sowell: Disciples on Duty

      In light of all this — you might be thinking that I allowed decades of frustration with culture and colleagues to seep into what happened at work. And you’d be right. But that doesn’t change the fact that what he did was grossly unprofessional — and I’d never seen anything like it in all my years. I didn’t write this post to defend my actions — I’m writing about larger problems in the workforce and the world around us.

      And my manager pulled the same stunt that almost everyone does these days: He acts like he’s incapable of isolating each aspect of the situation. I have no problem with anyone saying, “I’ve never seen anybody blow up on a colleague like that.” Okay, fine. Now leave that aside for the moment and ask yourself if you’ve ever seen anybody do what the other guy did?

      Once again, you have to isolote the scenario for what it is. This is not someone who said, “I don’t approve of this approach and I’ve got a better idea.” Even coupled with a better idea, that tone would be inappropriate — since you could simply say, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about this and I’ve come up with a better way.” Neverthess, if you’ve got better idea — I’m not gonna fuss over tone in the midst of the meeting (I’ll address it later or drop it). But if you come out of nowhere with “I don’t approve of this approach” — and you’ve got nothing to offer, you’re poisoned the entire meeting to cover your own ass or whatever the hell you’re up to.

      That — is a gross breach in professsionalism, and I defy anyone to argue otherwise. And he coudl have kept his mouth shut after being called on it, but he just couldn’t leave it alone (and address it with me later). No, it wasn’t enough that he poisoned the atmosphere — he had to push it.

      It’s indefensible.

      Lastly, I added a few things at the end — include this bit below. And I wanted to thank you again for reading and offering your input. Responding to your comment helped flesh out a few more things I wanted to add, and fruitful dialogue is what this is all about.

      Thanks for your time!

      ***************

      My aim was always to find a home where I could settle in for an ever-evolving future — a quest for belonging in the right company, with a crew that continually hones its craft.

      I wanted one tiny space in the world where people do right by one another — and rise to the occasion when they don’t.

      It was just a dream, so I’ve had to repeatedly lower my expectations if I wanted to continue in this career. All I ask for now is that people be in the ballpark of their beliefs, but even that seems too much to ask.

      My concessions could never keep up with the pace of pampering that plagues our society — as I’ve always clashed with a culture that increasingly values bullshit as currency.

      Rollo‘s behavior became normalized that way.

      And so did yours (map of America below) . . .

      Liked by 1 person

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