Archive for December, 2009

Post #73: Broken Telephone

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Dear Alice,

I’m preparing to make a big move at work, and it’s taking up all of my mental efforts right now. I’m still gathering thoughts on it, so I can’t really say much. My team is unhappy, morale is down, and it’s time to speak up.

“It’s hard to keep your mouth shut. Harder still to make noise.” - BNL, Take It Back

What’s upsetting is that when I speak to outside sources about my plans, they tell me that it’s not my responsibility, that I don’t owe the company anything, and that I should just quit. This advice doesn’t sit well with me. My mother gave me this advice last year when I was trying to make amends with my ex-. I called off making amends with her, and a year later, I still regret doing so. I’m not missing my chance to make a difference this time. (In fact, I already see a difference, now that I’m taking my true role as team lead more seriously.)

I’ve set up a meeting with the VP of the department to talk about “Myself, the team, and future planning.” The trouble is that my boss’ boss is … too good. He’s smart, he’s well spoken, he’s witty. He’s intimidating! He’s got it all figured out, with convincing reasons that all is well, and this happened because of that, and yadda, yadda, amen. He can charm you right out of his office, forgetting just what you had to say to him in the first place.

The reason why I feel that I need to take the gauntlet is that my team is currently a mix of newbies and ESL foreigners, and they’d be no match for his charm (…at least not for another few months, and then it’d again be the question of “but who will take the stand?”.) Personally, I’m no match for him either, at least not alone; so I’ve spent the past week and some gathering thoughts and opinions from others on the floor, and I’m spending my weekend preparing my agendas. One for “The Meeting”, and one for both of my managers, in case they feel threatened, now that they’ve heard that I’m having my one-on-one with the VP. (*sigh*)

It really is just a matter of broken telephone. Hopefully, we’ll reestablish the connection between him and my team before it gets any worse.

David =B~)

Post #72: Watch your back, success. I’m-a comin’ for ya.

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Dear Alice,

This post has been long overdue. I’ve been suffering from a fear of success for a very long time.

Fear of competition on Wiki pages

We started a Wiki page at work about a year ago, and I was more than thrilled to start adding articles to it. I posted around twenty pages by the end of the first week. Of course, not everyone was as excited as I was, so as an incentive, the Wiki team decided to make a competition out of it. That’s when the trouble started.

The competition was about posting the most pages to the site. The top ten posters would get a prize, with the top three getting a better prize, and first with the best.

Suddenly, my work is up on full display, and everyone can see that I’ve got 21 pages to my name. Second place has 8. I wasn’t proud. I was embarrassed. Most of the articles I put up weren’t mine in the first place. They had been articles I had stumbled upon in my few years at work, and I was posting them for the greater good. Now, it felt like I was stealing credit due to these people.

The abuse came in many forms. (I’ll call it abuse, even though it’s only abuse from my standpoint. A perfect being would be strong enough to deal with the jabs, but I wasn’t.)

  • One of the most wonderful writers in the group, from whom I had posted at least six of her works, jested that she could have gotten credit for her pieces had I not already done so in the first place.
  • Any new discoveries worth mentioning in the Wiki pages triggered the teasing as well. “We should put this up on the Wiki site, if David hasn’t done so already!”
  • When myself and another had any new findings, there was an awkward moment surrounding who should put it up on the Wiki site.

I stopped posting. I still won first prize, but I was shattered, and it took me a while to get back into the spirit of posting things again.

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Post #71: Your words just hypnotise me.

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Dear Alice,

I have two crazy ideas which both stem from Feynman’s experiences on hypnotism. The first is about hypnotism in general, and the second is all about the question of when you can do something and when you can’t.

Feyman’s story

In Feynman’s book, “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”, he talks about his experiences with hypnotism. At one point, on stage, the hypnotists tells him that he can’t open his eyes. Feynman thinks to himself, “Surely, I can; but I want to see where he’s going with this.” The conclusion he makes from this is that, when you come down to it, he can’t open his eyes.

They story continues, and he describes instances where, after being led by the hypnotist for some time, when he finally decides to break the spell, he actually finds some difficulty in doing so. The hypnotist tells him that, when he gets off stage, he won’t be able to just walk straight sit down. He will walk around the perimeter of this hall before sitting down. Feynman, in his head, says that enough is enough, and he walks straight to his seat to sit down… but an uncomfortable feeling sets in before he could make it. He couldn’t continue! He walked around the hall.

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