Tuesday, June 03, 2008
I had a realization last week when I was driving home on the freeway at 11pm on Friday night. For some reason, a scene from a couple of months earlier when I was having a meeting with the owner of the business I work for popped into my head. I won't go into all of the details, but she was listening to my concerns, worries, and ideas about the direction the business was going and she told me that it sounded to her like I was troubled by my youthful idealism when viewing the situation. To explain this, she used an example from when she was in law school at Yale or Princeton (I forget which was her undergrad and which was law school) where she saw all these problems with a system and used her passion and energy to write a huge report about what was wrong with everything and how to fix it. Of course after doing this, few of her suggestions were implemented.
In my mind, after hearing that I figured that perhaps I wasn't being fully aware of the situation and that maybe she was right and I was being unrealistic. I accepted her words at face value. But when I suddenly was remembering this the other night, I was also struck by a realization that she was wrong. Although I could see how she might dismiss my input as youthful idealism, especially since I'm in school right now, there is a difference. For one thing, I'm not 24. I'm 30 (close enough, it happens next week). There is also the fact that I was speaking to her with over four years of direct experience in the industry, plus another five-plus years of customer service in various capacities. I respect her viewpoint, but believe that she is wrong. The example she gave me was of a situation where she was trying to fix things using her newly gained knowledge. What I was doing was trying to communicate a perspective to her that included not only knowledge, but direct, applied, repetitive experience--also known as wisdom. (If I was trying to tell her what to do with the interior design, which I am in school for... well, that might have been more in line with her example.)
Now, this doesn't really have anything to do with her directly. Why I bring it up is because I was so happy that instead of unquestioningly accepting her word as correct, that I finally realized that I wasn't crazy, that I wasn't wrong, and that whether she wanted to listen to me or not, what I had to say was valid. It sounds trite, but I am really beginning to find my own voice. For me to overlook her anecdotal evidence, ivy league pedigrees, and position of authority/power as my boss and still believe in my message is new for me. Normally I might understand subconsciously that something was wrong with the situation, but I wouldn't have known that I was right in this instance and have been able to move past it. It would have festered and made me angry and unproductive.
At this point, while I see things happening with the business that I belive will ultimately have a negative impact and I am tempted to try and take on a larger role to help "fix" things, I know that it is best for me to keep my distance. It would have been a great opportunity for me a few years ago; however, as I transition into design I know that I would rather put my energy there. I can see something that is broken and leave it alone now. While I'm still working there, I will continue to do my best and leave a positive impact in my wake, but that is it. I don't need to worry about improving things on a larger scale because quite frankly, it isn't my responsibility. And I can make that choice.