Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Work is a bit of a bear this week and I'm trying to deal. I had a kind of ugly situation with an employee this morning that had me wishing I had a flask by about 9:00 AM. I talked it over in really honest terms with my manager, which was helpful, and a little bit later the employee came to apologize, which was good I guess. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a very good manager, and it's difficult right now. I feel a little bipolar because half of the time things go well, and the other half has me wanting to throw myself in front of a bus. Today was the second kind of day.

I started participating in a mentoring program this summer through my bank (as a mentee, not a mentor.) It's been such a great experience so far. I got paired up with someone who works on the mother ship (in Charlotte, NC) so it's helpful to learn about the corporate culture in that environment. It's also great to connect with someone from the company -- I'm used to having 35 other managers in the same city to talk with, and now there are only 13 expatriates in our division in the world. It makes an already isolated situation feel even more so. My mentor and I conference for an hour or so every three weeks, and a cool thing is that I really like her and our personalities seem to gel. The person who matched us up doesn't really know me at all, so I think I lucked out. That happens to me a lot; I have extraordinary luck. But that's a different post.

Through my mentor (she prefers "peer coach", but I really like having a "mentor" -- it means that someone I know really has it together, right?) I got hooked up with this other guy for a conference call last month. This guy used to do my job several years ago, but in Tokyo, so she thought it might be helpful for me to speak with him and get a chance to ask him some questions. It turned out to be awesome -- he is a total no-bs kind of guy, which I love, and was really able to speak to specific situations that no one else can understand. He also talked about the assignment over here in a philosophical way, which is really how I process things, so that was helpful as well. At one point during the call he said, "I'm about to get all Chuck Swindoll on you" (and I thought OH GOD), and then he talked about the poem about attitude that Swindoll wrote. It starts, "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life..." We ended up talking about attitude as it relates to the crazy ex-pat experience, and it was also super helpful. The whole thing was a real gift.

I struggle with my job and sometimes it makes me crazy, but overall I've always felt lucky to have a good career. I've been in banking for over 11 years now (which means I started when I was 10. Just kidding.) I'm not really one of those people who think you have to "find your bliss" (your what?) or "do what you love" about work. Give me a break. My thought has pretty much always been that I find satisfaction in working hard and that it isn't my whole life. My job doesn't have to be bliss (good thing) because it's only a job, and my life outside of work is the real deal. I don't mean that I don't hate my job sometimes -- I DO. It's hard to explain. I suppose I would feel differently if I got a really crazy, extraordinary job, but I don't feel like I'm missing out at all. Hard work is fun to me.

We have a 3-day weekend coming up, which will be great. I think I will work for part of it, but I'm also going to spend some time in Hiroshima (hoping to finally find the Hiro Art Museum, and I'm due another trip to Snoopy Town for puzzles for the neighborhood kids), and then I have a Sting concert to attend. It's going to be a nice break. I haven't read a lot of Martin Luther King's speeches/writing, but I love "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and I try to read it each year on the holiday weekend. There's one part in there that really blows me away (I remember my lit teacher saying it's the longest sentence in literature or something) when he is answering those that would say "Wait" to African-Americans wanting freedom. It's powerful.

I'm pooped. That's it for now!

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