Despite this happening over twenty years ago, I will still drop my head in my hands every time I think about it. An incident where I allowed my irritation and pique to get in the way of my usual good sense.
I first wrote about this incident as part of Jeff Goin’s thirty-one, day writing challenge, a few years ago. The day twenty topic, ‘describe a time when you messed up’, took me straight back. To the time when I was managing a Learning Shop on the High Street.
The Learning Shop was part of my employer’s strategy to make the college more accessible to the public and bring in a broader and more diverse group of people into Further Education.
I thought this was a great idea, which did and still fits with my values and beliefs about life in general, so I was pleased to be asked to manage this project and move it forward.
However, as with all things that are new, innovative and not quite in the mainstream, we had our teething problems. Our main one being with security. We were physically separated from the main site by a couple of miles so had no onsite security at night. All we could do is lock up and hope that we did not get a ‘call-out’ during the night as for various reasons, the security staff on our main site were not going to come down and investigate any alarms, issues calls etc.
On this occasion, I was on ‘call-out’ duty and did indeed get a call in the middle of the night from the police. As I lived South and the college was North of the River Thames, being called out at that time was a real pain in the backside. A situation not helped by the fact that the police had left, and I would be entering an empty building, not knowing quite what to expect.
I was also due that same morning to make a presentation to the Senior Management team about the shop and what we were hoping to achieve on the High Street.
It is a source of sincere regret that because of my anger and resentment at being called out yet again to answer yet another call when we had security staff two miles up the road. I refused to attend the meeting. Even today, as I read this, I still can’t quite believe my refusal.
It was not a good move, and I think forever ‘soured‘ my relationship with my manager. Things were never quite the same again between us.
In hindsight, I could have achieved so much more for the shop, and my staff had I attended looking tired, feeling tired but able to articulate from first-hand experience some of the problems we faced in running this project.
I allowed my feelings which were, to some extent, justified to cloud my judgement and my usual good sense.
But, what a missed opportunity, just from a moment of ‘career pique’. What a missed opportunity for me, my staff and the shop. Attending might not have brought about the changes I wanted, but because I didn’t go, I will never know.
So, at those times when you are right in the middle of an ‘emotional storm’.
Your feelings won’t always tell you the truth; they won’t always steer you in the right direction.
Your feelings won’t always align with your needs, though they may align more with your wants.
Your feelings are probably at their most unreliable when you are tired and dead on your feet.
‘I don’t feel like it’ is often not a good enough reason.
Instead, take a breath and ask yourself, ‘what is the ‘bigger picture’ here? Is it better to still show up, despite how you feel?’
Until next time