Saturday, March 10, 2007

In with the Love, Out with the Jive

I've just had the most amazingly aggravating week. The kind that gets me all wound up and vibrating in my skin as I let loose at every conceivable target. Need me to let up my guard and say inappropriate things to all and sundry and air my dirty laundry in public? This would be the week. It didn't even require beer! (Newcastle Brown, Sam's Seasonal, or a nice chewy Hefeweizen)

I'm not sure how much crank is internal and how much is external. Readers are probably thinking "the hell, you say! Have we taught you nothing?" Well, yes and no. Some days I'm able to take a deep breath, stand back, re-frame my experience, and let it go. But this would not be the week for that. This is the kind of week where every experience just makes the next one more annoying, even with a one day break for cooling off. And if I started the breathing trick there's a little imp in place of my conscience saying, "You won't regret this! Forget the yogic calm! Everyone will love to hear you rant. They'll think it's cute." I'm pretty sure it's not cute, though. I actually jumped up and down and squealed on wednesday and am still not able to regret the tantrum. (It was kind of fun.) I can hear people chanting "calm blue oceans" at me now. I've got the Mellow Mix on the iPod running, and I did a solid 45 min cardio workout after work which seemed to help.

So here's the bizzare thing - I had a really good week!
  1. My best buddy from Boston stopped by on his way Down Under. I was able to take a day off work and show him my zen drives and the asphalt seeps and the view of the Pacific descending into Malibu from a Canyon road. And we went out for brunch like it hadn't been 10 months since our last one. I really miss having a brunch and dinner companion who gets me and entertains me. Ok, I miss having a dinner companion at all. But having one who wants to split the Avocado Eggrolls at the Ch.eesecake F.actory and listens to me rant without internalizing it is a real treat.
  2. I picked up the glass ornaments I made forever ago and they look good. I got the mojo back! And the studio is soon to reopen after the February rebuild. Now if I can just find a partner and a pair of pinking shears I can see if this glass alligator idea I have will work out.
  3. Despite MANY work related aggravations, I did some good engineering this week. I worked pretty much flat out which is fun every once in a while but is a tiring pace to keep up. I got all my concerns addressed regarding my new tool install, I did a throughput analysis and process review, I got a good photo record of an experiment, I spoke to my boss about something before flying off the handle about it (I'm not a complete loss). Of course that could be the imp's critique, but I think the good work might have edged out the attitude. One can never be sure with attitude. Along those lines, I learned/relearned an important lesson. Even more, I think my gut finally learned it too.

I learned that if I'm in charge of a project, I want to know what's going on with my data before it gets distributed, and other people want this too. This is probably a blinding flash of the obvious to anyone else in the world, but the concept has finally been forcibly cemented in my tiny, self-important head just this week, that I need to make updating my boss a bigger priority. Knowing something intellectually is not the same as understanding it viscerally and incorporating it into your worldview.

While it's been pounded forcibly into me over the years that I should give stakeholders an update before presenting stuff at a widely attended meeting, the trick is that my default style is to work on my work and let people know when, alakazam, I'm done, maybe. My thoughts can to run to, "Why? I'm preparing for the meeting so you can review it there." Or pathetically, "I'll just be intruding, they don't have time for this little ol' project." Or just plain wanting to avoid an unpleasant conversation. But there are many reasons to let the boss/project lead know what is going to be presented, even if it means presenting twice, or not having a firm recommendation ready and working from a draft. Because there may be a different spin to put on it, more questions that need to be answered, slides to be reordered or deleted or summarized, or other people to clue in. Because you don't want to surprise your boss with new information that they then have to process in front of everybody and everybody's boss's boss. Because you want to do damage control before the meeting so you don't use meeting time to cause more damage. Despite knowing these reasons, those sneaky thoughts still sometimes intrude. Me being me, though, I learn better from bad examples than from good examples. And I had a fantastic bad example to learn from this week.


Anonymous said...

I can send out my 7yr old and show you what a really good tantrum looks like :) He's been foul for a couple of weeks now and I'm tired of it.

Hopefully, next week will be better.


Shasta MacNasty said...

<---passing you a BerryWeiss

Wade said...

I use the "calm blue ocean" thing all the time too. Next WILL be better.