I discovered something.
It wasn’t a sudden lightning bolt epiphany. But there was a lightning bolt of a sort. The kind that hits you with a gentle slap to the forehead, saying, “Duh -of course!”
I’ve been working at the library for six months now. It is exactly the right job for me at this time in my life. Interesting but not difficult, quiet but not solitary.
I spent much of my career in management. Mostly I liked the job I was doing. I did not like being the boss. But all those years of Bossdom have made my ‘post-career career’ so much easier. Because I think like a boss, but I don’t have to be one.
Looking back on my so plus years as a financial executive, I know that I was an excellent thinker. I was committed, creative, and productive. But I was not an especially good boss. Oh, I was nice to my staff. And I was a good teacher. But not a leader. Not a decision-maker. I liked doing the thinking, not the deciding.
Those years of management – however successful or unsuccessful they were – made me a nice living for a long time.
And here is my small epiphany: My management experience has made me a much better subordinate.
Why I didn’t see this earlier in my career – I don’t know. Certainly, I was a subordinate as well as a boss. There were plenty of executives in positions above me. So many big shots calling the shots. But I didn’t see them as much more than obstacles in getting my own work done.
But now that I am a subordinate only, with no management responsibilities, I find that I am looking at my boss differently.
It is not an interruption of my work to respond to the boss. My work IS to respond to the boss.
When I get to work, the first thing I do is check my emails and inbox for anything from my boss.
There’s often a report or a question or a bill that needs paying – something – that she’s asked for or wondering about.
I do that first.
I fulfill my boss’s needs FIRST.
Then I get to my own schedule.
And OMG. Here’s what I get for my efforts:
My boss thinks I am a genius. That I’m fantastic.
And do you know how I feel about my job – working for someone who thinks I’m fantastic?
I was a success in my previous career. But now I wonder how much more successful I would have been if I had made it a priority to make my boss’s life easier.
And I also am wondering now how I can apply this knowledge to my personal life.
I’ve thought about it – but maybe not in the way you think.
I’m not necessarily thinking about catering to all the needs of my family and friends – so that everyone thinks I’m fantastic.
That’s nice, I guess
But I’m my own boss in my own life. I am thinking more about how to make MY life easier. So that I think I am fantastic.
Paint more, play more, read more. Oh, I think about my family and friends too. But it’s like the emergency instructions on a plane. “Put on your own mask first so that you are in good shape to help your loved ones.”
It’s not easy, but I’m working on it.
I don’t think I’m fantastic – yet.
But I’m pretty sweet.
PS. It’s my birthday. I’m now 71. And every year on my birthday I post a unretouched selfie to say to Mother Nature and the world and myself, “I’m not quite old.”