Last year there was a heat wave

Last year there was a heat wave.

I was working at my 3rd job in 12 months, and it was hot.

More importantly, the air conditioning had gone out. And the office was so so hot.

I had bought an orchid for the office. I figured it would be nice for people to look at, and it would be a topic of conversation if one was needed.

It would also be a sympathetic magic object. I wanted to have life and beauty and growth in this new job. The orchid had those things, so perhaps would I.

People commented frequently on how long the orchid lasted.

It had bloomed beautifully for 8 weeks when the air conditioning broke.

but after three days of 100+ degrees of heat, a flower dropped.

I knew that this job was not going well. My boss invented reasons to ridicule me, and to prevent me from getting the information I needed to do the work she had assigned me.

So, after I had finished a phone call with a client, and stood in front of the fan for a moment, I looked over at the dropped flower. Some of the other staff were also standing in front of the fan, and they once more remarked on how long the orchid had lasted and asked my secret.

As we talked, the boss came out.

“What are you doing?”

I was surprised at her tone. “We were checking out the plant.”

“What are you DOING?”

All the other staff scattered.

“Well, I had finished helping Client X with the problem we discussed earlier, and I was taking a break in front of the fan.”

“What are you doing?”

I tilted my head. She repeated, “Do you understand what I mean? What are you doing?”

She turned back to her office.

I was hollowed and undressed with this treatment. I followed her to her office. “I don’t understand. Is there something you need to tell me?”

“I am asking you. What are you doing?”

I stood looking straight in her eyes.

Then I walked back to my cube.

I thought about quitting. I thought that perhaps I should just walk about.

I thought about what this job was, and what I hoped to do. I knew I could do it.

I thought about all the reasons this boss didn’t want me to do it.

I decided to stay.

I waited two hours, then I went and talked to her.

“After what you said to me earlier, I am wondering if I should be here.”

“Well, that is something to consider.”

We talked further and came to a ceasefire.

And I still wanted with all my heart to do that thing I had been hired to do.

She fired me. Right after I made the first prototype of the system I was supposed to create.

Not because the system was bad (I KNEW it was awesome!).

But because she said “You don’t fit here.”

My orchid lasted longer in that workplace than I did.

Banging My Head

I blew it. At least, that’s what my boss was telling me. I sure felt like I blew it.

Maybe I did. Things had gone off track, that’s for sure.

I was used to this feeling, like a pair of old pants. Slide them on, smooth as that, no struggle and I was sure I had screwed the pooch.

I couldn’t fix it. We couldn’t go back in time. So I sat in my stinky pants feeling terrible.

I didn’t want to feel terrible. I halfway tried to find people who would help me feel better.

It wasn’t until I was driving home that I remembered:

Bosses make mistakes too. All the time.

Amy Cuddy’s book Presence talks about how we imagine the people who have more responsibility. That the higher up the org chart, the more stress, and the harder they work. We imagine that it is very hard, and we begrudge their superior pay and benefits less.

In reality, people who have more responsibility actually have less stress.

Because people who are confident–that special cocktail of testosterone, cortisol and moxie–they are more confident and less concerned about pleasing.

I spent years beating myself over mistakes. What if I just stopped?

I could shed it. I could decide to allow myself a huge number of mistakes, as many as it took, to do what needed to be done.

And maybe what needs to be done is to become a different person. To shed this perfectionist skin and emerge entirely different.

You know you snakes shed their skin? By beating their heads against a rock to rough and loosen it up.

I’ve been beating my head against an immovable object. Maybe I’m finally ready to slough off these scales and re-emerge.

Mistakes are my friend. I’m gonna see how that works out.