Why I Now Hate Tuesdays (but Only the Mornings)

I used to not totally despise Tuesday mornings. My documentation team had a Tuesday morning meeting with our douchebag manager on the books. Even though it is a total waste of time and illustrates the utter incompetency of this manager when it comes to docomentation, my team at least got to kill an hour while establishing our weekly work priorities. Plus the meeting was at 9:30, so I could take my time getting into work. I usually come in around 9 to avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic, but let's face it, I am not going to get much work done between 9 and 9:30, so the time is usually better served by just taking it easy.

We used to have a totally lame meeting on Monday afternoons that I usually skipped because it was so lame. But some brainiac engineer proposed the idea of moving that meeting to Tuesday mornings at 8:30 and having attendees bring breakfast snacks. First of all, I am not bringing shit to any meeting unless the corporate overlords are subsidizing, which they aren't. There is a passive psychological coersiveness to encouraging people to bring snacks, since it makes people who don't bring them feel guilty when other people bring them. Apparently, I am the only one who sees that or cares. But the bigger problem is that this new lame meeting time is in conflict with my desire to avoid traffic and get into work at a more comfortable time. It is also a meeting run by the same incompetent douchebag that oversees my team meeting at 9:30. So I have to suffer through his banal idiocy for much longer now on Tuesday mornings than I care to.

On the bright side, this violation of my civil rights has to be compensated. Since I am tormented for almost two hours on Tuesday mornings, I am fully within my rights to reclaim that as comp time. I usually leave an hour early on Tuesday afternoons so I can practice for Tuesday jazz night, and come in an hour late on Wednesdays so I can get a little extra sleep after Tuesday jazz night. Tuesday jazz night goes kind of late. The Tuesday morning angst also translates into more unleashed rocking at jazz night as I convert the frustrations into energetic bass grooves, so that's a plus. I wish it didn't have to be that way, but it does.

Being Nice vs. Being a Douche

I think if you asked my writing team who they would rather have leading them, they would choose me over the current meddling middle manager that oversees us. Don't get me wrong, I am in no way looking for a team lead or management role. I just want to use this thought question to illustrate what makes a more effective leader.

Likeability is a very important factor. People are more likely to willingly follow a leader the sincerely like. They are also more likely to passive aggressively resist one they don't like. I am nothing if not pretty likeable. Our boss, however, is a bit of a sociopath and a bully. My team doesn't like him because he gets his way by bullying and harassment rather than encouraging desirable outcomes by being nice.

Of course, likeability is necessary but not sufficient for good leadership. You also have to be competent. My team does internal quality system documentation for an FDA regulated biomedical company. You can't slack off on quality when it comes to governmental regulations and auditing. Thus, any process improvements that make quality system documentation easier and better benefit the company and improve the performance of my team. My team consists of three creative and intelligent subject matter experts on quality documentation. We know how to do the job better than anyone, including our boss, who is not a documentation specialist. A good leader asks his subject matter experts what will improve the processes and the quality of the work output. Our boss has never once asked us what would be the best process improvements for my team's quality documentation work, and when we told him anyway, he rejected our ideas in favor of an expedient one that is going to cause a world of pain down the road, when it is too late to undo it. If I were the team lead, I would do the right thing, not the expedient thing.

A good leader also needs to be a facilitator, helping his people do their jobs and removing obstacles, as well as understanding work life balance and having empathy. You are either for the team or against the team and a team that thinks you are fighting for them is much more inclined to willingly go along with your plan and vision. I am almost to a fault supportive of my work team. I want them to have all the tools to do their jobs efficiently and effectively, and I want to minimize obstacles and hassles in their paths to success. I don't want them to do busy work and I don't want them to be harassed by lazy or incompetent clients (like many of the engineers we perform documentation for). We have quality standards for a reason and no one is immune to them. Incompetency or ignorance are not excuses. You would not believe how many times our customers plead ignorance when they know full well what they are supposed to do. Our current boss is essentially a customer who favors expediency over quality. But his quest for expediency comes at the expense of our ability to do our jobs efficiently and effectively.

Last but not least, always be nice to people. You will get a lot more cooperation that way than being a douche. My team provides a service and the engineers need my team absolutely far more than we need them. In fact, we don't need anything from them most of the time. But if they have documentation needs, they need to be nice to us and provide the expected resources without question and with smiles on their faces. Otherwise, our hands are tied.

Standing Up to Bullies

People talk a good game about having zero tolerance for bullying but it is mostly lip service for two reasons. First, no one in a position to actually enforce the zero tolerance guideline actually does, possibly because such people are often bullies themselves, having bullied their way into their roles. Second, most victims of bullies don't have the balls to stand up to bullies, and so the bullies carry on their bullying under the radar of those who might be able to protect people from bullies.

What is this business about employers bullying potential job applicants into giving up social media passwords? That is totally unacceptable and sociopathic. Using the coersion of threatening not to hire someone if they don't give up that information is highly unethical and clearly bullying behavior. If, as a society, we really want to have a zero tolerance policy for bullying, we need to end such practices or disenfranchise the organizations that engage in them. Social media is not the purview of employers. It is none of their goddam business what their employees do on their own time, as long as everyone is professional and productive at work. Where I work, we have a coworker who drinks alcohol on the job and is highly unproductive. He probably doesn't even have social media, but if he did, it would in no way be correlated with his incompetence at work. Pictures of yourself totally shitfaced on the weekends have no bearing on your day job. Your behavior at work has to be judged on its own merits. I actually find this guy and several other coworkers highly offensive and I want nothing to do with them socially. I don't come to work to be friends with people I don't like, I do it to get a job done. I keep my professional and personal lives partitioned. My boss tries to coerce my team into being social outside of work with our shitty coworkers. No thank you. I choose my own friends. That said, I have other coworkers that I like as people and that I am friends with outside of work. Even then, we are friends first and coworkers second. We are able to recognize the difference between work and play and when we are at work, we are a well tuned machine, professional and productive. When we go out socially, we have a rule that we don't talk about work. It would be a travesty to discuss work outside of work.

My boss is a bully. I don't think my company has a policy on bullying, much less a zero tolerance one, otherwise my boss would have been long gone. But my boss also bullies under the radar, and his boss, who might be considered to be in a position to do something about bullying, is a spineless functional illiterate, who himself is completely under the thumb of my bullying boss.

I, however, do have a zero tolerance for bullying and it is my policy to stand up to the schoolyard (workplace) bully, unconditionally. This has led to some dynamic interactions with my boss, who has lost all credibility as a leader by lying, manipulating people, and not supporting my team. I see right through it and I don't tolerate it.

Always stand up to a bully. They act tough, but that is just a facade to hide their insecurity and often, incompetence. A true leader doesn't have to bully. They get things done by supporting the team, facilitating their work, and giving them the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. True leaders are effective because the people under them respect and trust the leader and feel compelled to work toward the common vision and goal.

Bullies have selfish agendas and small minded goals and they often don't care about any grander vision except how they can get ahead and look good. They also try to undermine others to get ahead. Bullies often act unilaterally without consulting others. This can be disastrous at the workplace where team effort is often required and subject matter experts are the best ones to make important decisions. Bully bosses often ignore the advice of subject matter experts to achieve their own selfish goals, thinking they know better than anyone else, and putting expediency before quality.

I had to stop caring about my job, my boss, and my employer because their decision making is misguided. I do my job well and it is pretty easy, but I do it exclusively for the ridiculous cash they pay me to do it. Otherwise, I would already be elsewhere. They consistently ignore the subject matter experts on my team and undermine our ability to do effective documentation work. They don't care about quality, only expediency. And I am perfectly at peace with that.

You see, I can't invest myself in caring too much or proposing new ideas, because I know my boss and management don't give a crap and they will screw it up. Documentation processes should never be left to engineers who are the clients and who know zero about how to do quality documentation.

I have gone so far as to warn management about the consequences of their bad decision making. I don't know if they are ignorant or just blindly optimistic, but it is clear they will have to learn by trial and error. I think my conscience will be clear when the shit hits the fan during the next big documentation project. I have done all I can as a subject matter expert and there is no sense in me getting worked up or caring to much about something that is going to fail because of mismanagement and incompetence. They had the chance to do the right thing. To their credit, they even recognize that they are doing the expedient, rather than the quality, thing. I guess they just optimistically hope the quality part will magically work itself out. Good luck with that.

I don't expect to be at this job too much longer. The money is good but the job satisfaction sucks. As soon as something better comes along, my bullying boss can kiss my perineum.

In a situation like mine, it is critical to stand up to bullies to maintain your integrity and self respect. Your boss is not better than you. They just have a different role and job function, which they can do competently or incompetently. The same goes for your role. It would be irresponsible and incompetent for you to go along with policies and procedures that you know are damaging or wrong. If you have no power to do anything about it, you at least have to speak out against it. Then you are on the record and you can have a clear conscience when the shit hits the fan.

The Inner Circle

I have an inner circle at work. This is a group of coworkers and friends who stick together and support each other at all times, having fun at work while keeping common threats, like middle management, out of our way.

I am brutally loyal to my writing team at work, and my inner circle network in general, which includes some work peeps and some external peeps. I will actively fight against any threat to the well being of my inner circle and its members.

You are either WITH the inner circle, or AGAINST it. If you are against it, you can never be in it and you are persona non grata.

If you are for it, you still won't necessarily be in it, but you can still be an ally and enjoy the goodwill of the IC. If you F with the IC or any of it's members, though, BADwill is what you will be served up with.

To be in the inner circle, you have to earn the loyalty, trust, and respect of the people in the inner circle. This is usually by helping others and doing good work so the team looks good, and everyone else looks like weak sauce by comparison.

There is an unspoken oath that the inner circle comes first, before work or stupid rules of society (corporate society, in the case of work). That is not unlike the philosophy of the fictional Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club.

Enemies of the inner circle at work include middle management and hateful or dickhead coworkers.

A good leader has to support and advocate for his or her team, without question. If they undermine or betray the team, they are working against the team and the inner circle is closed to them forever.

The inner circle is filled with good people and good leaders, and those are the people who make the rules as far as IC members are concerned.

The actual managers and bosses are not the recognized leaders, because they are not respected or trusted. They have lost their right to be leaders because they work against the team, being divisive and micromanaging (which undermines autonomy and trust in the team to be responsible for their lives). Sometimes we are forced to obey them or be punished by them, in the same way that a motorcycle club is sometimes forced to follow society's rules, rather than their own, or face jail.

Always stand up to the schoolyard (or workplace) bully. It is never the wrong thing to do.

My inner circle does not drink the corporate Koolaid. It is suicide for the soul. We also do not explain ourselves to anyone outside the inner circle. We follow our own code.

The inner circle is kind of like a motorcycle club, except without the drugs and guns and crime. Basically, everyone in the inner circle looks out for and protects other members. Anyone who tries to hurt or undermine the inner circle is the enemy of the inner circle and they are dead to us.

No Fear: Standing Up to the Schoolyard (and Workplace) Bully

Today I had to throw down with a manager at work who I have never recognized as a competent or particularly credible person.

The circumstances are inconsequential. He was being a douche about some stupid corporate rules. Whatever.

But it was great, because I stood up to him, with no fear, and I did not back down. At all.

He came way too close to overstepping his boundaries with me and I had to set him straight. I knew I was right, and that helped.

The guy is a bully and he tried to get up in my face, IN MY CUBE no less, about whatever the dumbshit thing was. He was totally invading my personal space.

I am taller than him and that was enough. I stood up, looked him right in the eyes, and said firmly, “We are going to have to agree to disagree.”

It was sublime.

Anyone who knows me knows I am laid back, but you push me over the edge of that cliff and you’d better just lie down on the ground and pretend to be sleeping.

Then I walked away from him, leaving him standing deflated in my cube.

I, of course, went right to HR to file a complaint. Not that it will help, since HR is totally in management’s pocket and they don’t give a crap about lowly employees like me.

But, that’s OK. Because I do not care about incompetent management or dumb rules or even HR’s ineffective policies. And because I don’t care, I don’t fear. And thus they have nothing on me. I have declared my freedom from fear and nonsense. There are no protections for good and competent workers in my company, and we are powerless to do anything against bullying and incompetency. So we fend for each other and ourselves, and we leave when they are not worthy of us. That’s why my team is so cohesive and looks out for each other. And that’s why I had to make a stand today.

I guess the thing I am supposed to fear is getting fired. But I don’t. I have human rights and I am not going to be bullied or put down by some dingleberry manager who thinks he is better than me and knows more than anyone else. That attitude is what has caused so many of the problems at this company and for my team…he does not know more than anyone else. In fact, almost everyone knows more than him and he makes bad or ineffective decisions, completely oblivious to the consequences.

I have to stand up for my rights and my beliefs, even if others don’t like it. Just because everyone else in corporate America pussies out due to fear of middle management, does not mean I have to. I am sick of pretending I care or am obedient. I can be pretty mellow when left alone to do my job. But don’t push me.

I am in the superb place of being a free agent. What if I was fired? I don’t even care. I have no debts, and my financial situation is decent for months into the future. I’d have to cut a few luxuries, but big deal. Worst case scenario I would sell my house for a hefty profit. No fears at all.

But you want to know the truth? Management is too pussified to fire anyone, especially someone competent and productive like me. I have proven my indispensability here. I mean, they could easily replace me with some obedient lackey cog in the machine. But that person would not produce like I do, notwithstanding dumb corporate rules that hinder me at every turn. They would just end up with another weak sauce peon.

Management’s power comes only from the presumed THREAT of reprimand or termination. As long as no one stares them down and says NO to them, they can wield this fear and expect obedience. But the THREAT is irrationally overblown in the minds of employees. It is not much of a threat at all. No one is ballsy enough to stand up to it and test it. I just did today. And that infuriates them. If they do fire me, it will only be to prevent the word getting around that the emperor has no clothes.

You have to really screw up to get fired in corporate America, which is why the place is 90% weak sauce. The issue I had was so trivial and they had to waste a ton of peoples’ time and brain power dealing with it. The only reason this manager went ballistic is was because he wasn’t looped into whatever the thing was and he thought he should be. Like I said, I never recognized him as anything but a nuisance, definitely not a respectable authority figure or my actual boss. He destroyed any chance of that when he bald faced lied to me on several occasions and then made a whole sequence of bad decisions that ended up causing my old awesome boss to go take a new job elsewhere. Fail. He is basically just the bulldog for the Director he reports to, a guy who is a totally dickless and incompetent tool (the guy who told me I could make my pizza vegetarian just by removing the meat).

I decided fear is not for me. It causes anxiety and stress and related health problems. My health and wellness is at stake. I don’t not accept that and I am within my human rights to defend myself against fear and intimidation.

That’s what I did today. And it was AWESOME. There is no consequence, not even getting fired, that will trump the AWESOMENESS of today’s victory march.

I know no one is better than me. I am the MOST awesome at being me. They don’t have to like me, but that is a fact no one can change. No one else is as good at being me as I am.

I may very well be better than them, professionally and personally. That’s just a consequence of a good upbringing and a high IQ. I was taught not to accept mediocrity, bullying, or douchebag behavior. I didn’t appreciate those lessons at the time, and I should have (thanks Mom and Pops!). But they are starting to pay off.

I will never be in corporate management, because I am pretty sure being a douchebag is a pre-requisite for being in management.

I'll be honest with you, it takes a certain kind of bullying douchebag to work in corporate management. I mean, you have to respect that on some level.

There are a lot of idiots working at this company (I am not one) and management must feel like they are herding cats sometimes. They also have to be pretty aggressive and brutal in order to fire and reprimand people when needed. I would hate to have to do that. But I am nice and sociable. It takes a certain kind of psychopathic or antisocial personality to be a manager. I get that. I call them the “bottom liners,” more interested in expediency and profit than other human beings. These are the people who once bullied me and my friends on the school yard without remorse. They lack empathy and are soulless. But I would never sacrifice my human goodness for the reward of corporate success. That is selling your soul. If you don't have a soul, you have nothing to lose joining the ranks of management. But people with souls agree to a Luciferian bargain when they seek to obtain corporate success.

Anyway, today this manager did not herd a weak sauce cat. He poked a stick at the grumpy and extremely potent LION, bitches. And he got told.

That’s why I will never be in corporate management. I am not a douchebag. But I do have self respect and I can be a total dick when you rile me up.

And that’s OK.

I do not respect or obey most of corporate management and I have no fear of them.

That is an absolute. So, they can work around that infuriating fact, or they can bend down and lick my perineum.

P.S. Any other weak sauce characters at work would be wise to steer clear of me in this volatile period. You have been warned.

Don't Believe the Hype

Today at work, I had to throw down with a manager who was drinking the corporate Koolaid and wanted me to join him. I said, "No thanks!" Actually, what I said was, "We will have to agree to disagree," on whatever corporate nonsense he was trying to make me drink. It was a load of shite.

I thought he was going to have an aneurism when I stood up to him like that. He did not like it one bit. But, you know you have to stand up to the school yard (and workplace) bully sometimes. He was trying to bend reality to his will, and I wasn't having it. He is kind of a psychopath. I really enjoyed it. No fear!

Now I know that I can tell him to F off any time, no problem, and he can't do a thing about it. I mean, he could fire me, but not without a good reason, and I am a little bit too awesome for where I work now. But he could fire me. I wouldn't care. That's the beauty of free agency.

In other news, as a musician, I take some comfort in the fact that I am 9 times more likely to die from choking on my own vomit than being killed by a terrorist attack.

Free Agency, the Pursuit of Happiness, and the DoI

There is no reason not to have a good time all the time. You have a right to pursue happiness. It is right there in the Declaration of Independence (DoI). So declare your independence from unhappiness and go pursue the good stuff.

The DoI may not have any actual legal standing in peoples' lives, like say, the Constitution does, but you can still declare your independence from a life of unhappiness. It is a first step on the path to true happiness. If you do not declare your intention to be happy, it becomes easier to accept a life of unhappiness and get sucked into hopelessness. The declaration frees you by bringing into full frontal consciousness your desire to be happy. That is a pretty potent thing.

Declaring your independence from unhappiness won't magically make you happy. In fact, you might feel just as unhappy as before, but you will be liberated and self sufficient, and as such you may feel some mild euphoria akin to happiness when you make your declaration. So give it your all. Put the universe on notice that unhappiness is going to have to be somebody else's bag, because "goddammit, you aren't going to take it anymore!"

Mean it. Because now your life is going to take a new direction. The declaration unleashes every part of your heart and soul to get on with the business of getting happy.

In fact, becoming happy is as simple as liberating yourself from the people and circumstances and things that make you unhappy. You have to declare your independence from those things, once you identify them.

Of course, that is not always so simple in practice.

For example, you could, in theory, very easily liberate yourself from the douchebag boss who brings you unhappiness for several hours each day. You would probably even feel a momentary burst of joy when you told him or her to kiss your ass and walked out. You could totally do that, and probably even be well within your right to do so, because let's face it, your boss is a total douchebag who really harshes your gig, and the DoI gives you the right to be free of that.

What stops most people from declaring their independence from the unhappiness caused by a douchebag boss?

Fear.

Most people need a job. They have families to feed and bills to pay. While telling off your boss would liberate you from him or her, it would also most likely liberate you from your job as well. Not having income might lead to some unhappiness.

I don't know about you but my actual job itself is not too bad. I am damn good at it and it is pretty easy. The job itself doesn't make me particularly unhappy. It is management interfering with my work and harshing my gig that makes me unhappy at work. If management would just F off, I could do my job better and faster and be a lot happier. I understand that they need to meddle and micromanage, because I have a lot of weak sauce coworkers who need constant handholding. They can't be trusted and ruin it for us all.

So what I need to do to find happiness (which you will recall is a fundamental human right, according to the DoI) is simply to remove the presence of management and weak sauce from my work life as much as possible. I have my strategies, and they work pretty well. I am just exercising my human rights when I delete useless emails and meetings scheduled to try to needlessly micromanage every single goddam thing. Other people can meddle and micromanage on their own time, if that makes them happy (that is their right, too, though I suspect it doesn't give them much joy at all, unless they are masochistic drama queens who thrive on angst…), because I, my good friends, have declared my independence from that unhappy weak sauce.

Declaring your independence does not mean taking extreme measures. It just means feeling confident in disenfranchising unhappiness by whatever means necessary, and not having any fear of doing so, because you are just exercising your human rights.

If you keep that in mind at all times, eventually your life will become happier, as little by little you recognize the causes of unhappiness and eliminate them one by one.