Thursday, April 30, 2009
Imagine you put everything on the line for the hardest job in the world. The kind of job that one can only dream of, but no one truly wants. A job that brings unimaginable stress - the kind that can kill you and will definitely age you five years for every one. A position where nearly every decision is monumental - decisions that can have ripple effects that aren't apparent for years, but are analyzed and reanalyzed, criticized, and held to standards no single human could ever truly attain.
Every word you say is recorded, repeated, paraphrased, interpreted, spun, taken out of context or simply fabricated. Every slip, simple or significant, is instantly echoed audibly, visually, in print and immortalized, often in late-night monologues.
You've gone through the longest, most grueling interview process ever. You've asked your spouse and your kids, who only want you to be happy and successful, to follow a path with you that will change their lives forever. They must give up everything for you for the next 1,461 days. In a world where they have to deal with constant worry for your safety as well as their own, and learn to handle unrelenting criticism, ignorance and pure hatred with grace. And where everything they wear, do and say is recorded, repeated, paraphrased, interpreted, spun and taken out of context.
A job where you're expected to clean up whatever mess was left by the last guy, within an arbitrary timeframe.
A job where half the "company" is hoping you fail, declaring every misstep a catastrophe they had predicted all along, tearing away at your self-confidence while pretending to be cordial yet talking behind your back to anyone who will listen, often with disdain, a closed mind and even anger. And the other half is just hoping you don't fuck up, and from a safe distance.
I was lucky to remember anyone's name and find the john without needing a map in my first 100 days. In fact, very little was expected of me other than knowing who to fear, learning the company acronyms and continuing to show up.
Give him a break. At least he's trying.