Thursday, November 20, 2008


I attended a webinar (and -- come on -- "webinar"? I hate that that's a word now...) about blogging this afternoon.

The guys at Compendium Blogware (Chris Baggott and Doug Karr) shared a ton of information about why blogging should be a part of any company's marketing strategy, how to measure return-on-investment for corporate blogging, etc. One of the things they shared was Doug's 200 Blog Post Ideas, one of which struck a chord with me: What's the latest mistake your company made? How did you recover?

From a personal perspective, this is an interesting question to me right now, as I recently left my job -- and while my departure was mutual, it wasn't, shall we say, entirely voluntary.

Looking back, I can see a lot of mistakes that I made, but I think the biggest error I made was not trusting my own instincts better. I allowed distractions to get between me and the job I was hired to do -- distractions like embracing the talk that I wanted so desperately to walk, like providing a listening ear to those who hadn't been heard, like letting personalities get in the way of my more effectively asserting myself for the good of me or the good of those we served. I knew there were things we needed to be doing to move my job forward, and I allowed others to distract and intimidate me away from those things.

There's a whole lot of stuff I could share, venting-wise, about my experience, but that really doesn't have a place here. I've tried to keep the negative work stuff off this blog (except for a couple times and even then I didn't get specific). If you would like the whole story (from my side, of course), you may invite me to dinner (on you, seeing as how I am currently unemployed).

BUT! The question from Doug Karr's list is a two-parter and, much like a Dallas cliffhanger or a stuffed-crust pizza, it's the second part that makes the difference. How did I recover? is a question that is probably more appropriately worded How am I recovering? for, you see, at this point I still am recovering -- and from a couple standpoints.

From the career standpoint, I'm working on finding a next thing, and in the meantime, I've been fortunate to find a couple freelance writing projects to keep me in frosting and Nilla wafers for a while. I'm not exactly flush with cash, but I do think that I'll be able to Tarzan this vine until the next one appears. If you know of anyone seeking an organized, talented project manager or writer or editor or fundraising guy (events and annual campaigns, because I'm giving myself a vacation from capital campaigns for a while), let me know.

From a personal standpoint, I'm doing a lot of reflecting. Questions of doubt and ability plague me, but that's really nothing new.

One of the greatest things (for me, not for where I used to work) is the number of people who know me and know that place and wonder at how long I was able to last there. I feel like the way I was experienced there -- and, correspondingly, the way people treated me there -- was so different from anywhere else I've ever worked, served, or whatever, that the problem certainly couldn't have been all me. And sadly, I've had a fair number of folks share with me their experiences with my former workplace that have had a similarly negative tone as my own. Some have stuck around; some haven't. I pray every day for the people who've shared their negative experiences with me, and also for the folks who, though troubled and flawed humans (just like all of us), are just trying to do their best for that place and for each other (just like all of us).

How am I recovering? I'm doing a lot of forgiveness work (myself, others, myself, myself, others, myself, myself), and I'm spending a lot of time writing. I've got a couple ideas for new adventures, including a new web concept that will offer you the opportunity to give me lots of money. So, you know, ha ha, watch for that.

In the meantime, I'm focusing on the silver lining around this cloud. I've learned things, I've grown, and I did a lot of good stuff in the almost-two-years I was there.

The reality is that my working there was not the right thing for that place, nor was it the right thing for me. There were too many other issues getting in the way of my (me, specifically) success there.

And sometimes it just doesn't work out. If you had asked me three years ago if I could forge and maintain a working relationship with anyone, I would have told you, "Absolutely." Now, I know that's not true, and I know that that's OK. It's not the end of the world not to be able to break through to one or more individuals ... it just means the fit wasn't right.

So, what was my latest mistake? Not trusting myself. What were the consequences? Missed opportunities and regrets, lost time and hard feelings. How did (am) I recover(ing)? By learning from the experience and keeping my eye on the lessons and the positive achievements, not the remorse and the letdowns.

And, really, I guess the next 40 or 50 years will tell the rest of my answer to How did you recover? And in that context, two years in the wrong job for me doesn't seem all that bad, after all...


Anonymous said...

Wow. "Bummer" doesn't seem enough to sum this up adequately but it's all I've got.

I'd love to know more about it but that requires taking you to dinner, and then I wouldn't be anonymous any more. Hang in there while you wait for the Next Great Adventure to arrive. (It will, you know.)

SSS said...

Haha, "Bummer" is actually pretty good, although I appreciate your sensitivity. I'm at the part of the process now (I think) where the disappointment -- in myself and in others -- is dying down, and I'm able to look at it from a "Meh...bummer...move on" perspective. :)

I will accept anonymously e-mailed dinner-appropriate gift cards: :)

Alison Inaz said...

Whoa! I did not get this update from our shared news source. I'm sorry about the joblessness, but glad that you're out of what sounded like a bad situation. And really, there are worse things to subsist on than Nilla wafers, you know?

Meana said...

Your diplomacy is remarkable! Sadly, word on the street is Hillary is taking the Sec of State post so the search continues for you! :)

Seriously though, you've done well being reflective and balanced and fair. At the end of any experience, good or bad, that's all you can ask for.

Esmerelda said...

Dear Sweet Scott,

So sorry to hear about your job loss. I always recommend going back to school. (or returning to higher ed!)

Let me know if I can help with anything. Would you move back to Bloomington?


SSS said...

Thanks, friends!

Anonymous said...

Wait your not going to talk about the part where that one guy walked out on u in the middle of the meeting without saying anything?

Or the part where ur one coach spent 30 minutes bitching about ur boss before resigning from the church personnel committee, and then ur other coach instructed u on how to do that one bullshit task and u did it that way and they still said that was unsatisfactory?

Or the part where the second coach whose business was in a slump is now getting paid to do ur old job?

If your not going to mention all that, I will.