Photo Credit: aKc83
My previous boss was a swindler and a thief (a good one), but as time is never wasted, I learned two things from her. One: don’t surround yourself with people of lacking or immoral character; you have only limited time to enjoy your life, and your relationships are inextricably tied to your well being. Two: Don’t fire from the hip.
Regarding the first lesson: One of my favorite works of writing (whether poetry or philosophy) is William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Within the work is a section known as The Proverbs of Hell. You’ve heard some of the proverbs before: no bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings, the cut worm forgives the plow. The boss’s first lesson is a lesson of experience: at all costs, avoid others of inept character, I find this sensationally interpreted in Blake’s proverb: expect poison from the standing water.
On the day my boss fired her fourth secretary in three months, as a branch of good faith and easy parting, the secretary wrote out a list of her future replacement’s responsibilities. When she placed the list on my boss’s desk, my boss said, “This list is not nearly descriptive enough, and should be reworked and placed on my desk by the time you leave.” Laugh. It’s ok, I laughed a little too.
When conscionable and self-reflective character comes to a standstill, you’ll find selfishness and deceit, everyone has a little, but surely some more than others, and where you find stagnation, nature brews poison, so in regards to your personal and professional health, if you don’t want to drink poison, don’t surround yourself with three x bottles (Thank you for the opportunity, I’m outta here, good luck with the next chump!).
Now breathe easy, for every calloused heart out there, there are many times over those that could surprise you with how good they can be. I happen to surround myself with many, and it makes life a lot more fun. But I learn from everyone and everything, because no matter where you are, whether you’re reading this, enjoying the company of a friend, or facing poison, the entirety of your life has led you there, and you must not mark it wasted time.
Regarding the second lesson: I managed ten accounts in my boss’s boutique business management firm. I spent a lot of time on the phone with her clients. The businesses we managed were in fact her clients: writers, directors, actors, executives. Although sometimes production geniuses, they were often financial slugs. So without further ado, my boss’s lasting lesson (brutally) learned: DO NOT CALL A CLIENT UNLESS YOU KNOW *EVERYTHING*. I mixed up a simple request from one of my writers with one of my executives once and you wouldn’t believe the number of gold stars removed from my desk. But she was right, the clients needed to be convinced of one thing: the person handling their money knows everything.
So I learned: don’t just fire from the hip! When you have a thought, a question, or an answer (good for you, you’re ahead of the rest), picking up the phone and acting on it is nearly never the next step. If it’s an emotional email, give it a night or two, see if it changes in a couple days. If it’s a question, see if you can’t answer it yourself. If it’s an answer, find the holes before you make somebody else trip over one. There’s no better way to annoy someone than pester them without doing your work.
That’s the end of our second blog, but in case you’re interested, I’ve listed below a few of my favorite proverbs of hell in reference to myself:
Listen to the fool’s reproach! it is a kingly title!
To my late boss:
As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible.
To everyone of dynamic character:
The most sublime act is to set another before you.
And just because it’s on my mind:
One thought fills immensity.