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Wednesday, April 30, 2003
We have nothing to fear but phobaphobia... 
I was in the middle of a totally different conversation today when "fear" came up. I just guessed that "phobaphobia" would be the fear of fear itself... and sure it enough, it is. I often talk about overcoming those fears that I guess you would call "ordinary"... things that get in your way to success. I don't often talk about those "unusual" fears... like phobaphobia or panphobia (the fear of everything). How tough that must be, to not only be afraid, but know that it's so different, that you're even further isolated.

I guess there's a fear for everyone. Some need professional help, like those with Iatrophobia (fear of doctors) but some just need to think themselves through it (except for Phronemophobes, who have a fear of thinking).

I'm glad I don't have Cenophobia (fear of new ideas) or you'd have nothing to read.

9:32 PM

Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Hollywood Starfish... 
Little bit of trivia... if a starfish is cut into pieces, each piece can grow a fully new starfish.

I was just thinking about that because of the events around the festival. I got a bunch of calls today. Seems the people who left the group are forming their own festival... same purpose, same area... same starfish. They wanted to know if I'd be interested in helping them with their site.

Such an ethical dilemma this presents. Do I do one to forsake the other? Do I do both? Or just leave them all behind? I certainly feel an obligation to the original group... to finish what I promised... I also promised myself to commit to my site and "GuruStu." The last thing I need to do is to spread myself so thin that I accomplish nothing.

I guess it's not really a dilemma right now. I'm going to keep doing what I started, and wait to see how the starfish grow. I think time will tell; so I'm not going to rush to judgement.

I'll just be a Hollywood Jellyfish instead.. and go with the flow.

11:05 PM

Monday, April 28, 2003
Who's got the power now?? 
That song, "I've got the power" ran through my head as I drove home with my power cord safely stored in my bag. Little did I know I'd catch wind of another power struggle just waiting for me at home.

My email was filled with a number of resignations from the Festival Committee. Seems like there were a lot of behind-the-scene goings on that could have been a motion picture unto itself. Power struggles, shifts in authority... lots of phone calls and hearsay in the last hour. I'm so used to ignoring these sorts of politics, that I just let this stuff go by too. I focus on my WORK... for my job and this Festival.

I don't believe in talk. I don't need to impress anyone. I believe you are either impressive or you aren't. Let the quality of what you do speak for itself.

I hope things work out for the best with the festival and everything else that goes on around here. Right now there's a window of opportunity to set things right... or else all will be lost.

If I were in a place of power, I'd run it like a business... with clear cut goals and deliverables and dates for all of them. I'd empower the experts these people claim to be, then hold them accountable for their deeds. I'd run the meetings with an iron fist and a velvet glove... and keep everyone focused on what needs to get done.

And to me it wouldn't matter what people did before. Your credits are just words for days gone by. I'd care more about what you CAN do, and more importantly, what you are GOING to do, than I would about what awards are gathering dust on your shelf at home.

But that's just me... and the only power I'm concerned with is my laptop's power cord... so now that I'm juiced up, I'm off to catch up on what I'M going to do now.

7:19 PM

Saturday, April 26, 2003
Batteries have a life too... 
As I write this, I only have a couple of hours left on my battery. It's amazing how a limited amount of time affects your choices. You start questioning those little things you do that waste time. You think again about living things go idle. Your priorities change; the way you do everything shifts just a little. You appreciate the time you have just a bit more.

It's overly dramatic when it comes to just a computer battery, I know... but when you think, "isn't this just like life?" you learn so such in only a couple of hours.

We have a finite amount of time here, we enjoy it or not, we value it or we don't. We can be idle or active. It's all about choices.

But you don't think about it too much, until you see the little gauge telling you how little time you have left. The elderly and the ill watch that gauge more closely than the rest of us. We think about how "unfortunate" that is... but then those who never realize the time, never actually value that time as well.

Better get going.... I'm got some value time ahead of me just waiting to be enjoyed...

10:55 PM

Friday, April 25, 2003
Totally Retro... 
What a wacky day... My computer got all screwy first thing in the morning... and people were just in a very odd mood all day. Couldn't blame the full moon, cause it ain't here yet... I was waiting for someone to tell me that "Mercury was in Retrograde" again. Close enough... it's tomorrow. Perhaps it's just Friday-itis and everyone's had a rough week.

It's good to let off steam and be goofy every once in while. It's healthy, really. "All work and no play..." isn't that what they say?

I know I won't be working on a lot of my stuff this weekend.. even if I want to... cause I left my power cord at work, and only have about five hours total battery time. Ah well, conservation of thought... and lot of the "other stuff" to keep me occupied...

Choices... choices... choices...

8:40 PM

Thursday, April 24, 2003
What is Truth? 
"If I believe that everybody is true in their beliefs, no matter what they believe in; yet you think I'm wrong... then who's right?"

Our lunchtime conversation turned to "Truth." It brought up a lot of philosophical thoughts.

Can Truth be known? If it's out there, then there must be a way to find it. But who's found it? Certainly a lot of people claim they have. So do you find truth in what other people have told you... in what has been said or written before us? Entire religions are founded on such.

Or do you go by your direct experience? Millions of people only believe what they encounter and nothing else.

But can you really trust direct experience? If you hear voices, are Angels speaking to you? Or the Devil? Aliens? Or is it some psychologic disturbance? So maybe it's outsiders who can judge the truth better that we can... but that's just their opinion, isn't it?

Just because you can use a whole slew of tools to prove your case, can you trust that either? Have you ever been in a dream that seemed completely real? What if while sleeping you used a dream machine to prove the reality of the dream. Seems absurd, doesn't it? Why? because when we wake up, we know it was a dream... so, again, I ask... what about the tools we use here? Can we trust them, if they're here in this world with us?

I really didn't have the answers to any of these during lunch... I had the chicken instead.

And it was good... and THAT's the Truth.

10:50 PM

Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Standing firm, stepping forward... 
Such a busy day today, filled with the many facets of my life... from work to the film festival to gurustu.com. The first theme for the day was standing firm. At work, it seems not enough people are talking to each other, and few are following a fixed set of requirements, so the project is starting to unraveled. Being "empowered" to maintain a unified brand, I took a stand today. Even though we've already done some stuff in different directions, I'm going to make sure that everything gets done (and redone) to keep it all together. After all, that's our tag line ("we got it together") so if we do, we'd better show it.

Tonight's meeting was a bit "rambunctious" I must say. It's amazing how many tangents people can go off on. I just basically stayed still throughout the meeting and reminded myself how important it is for me to "stay the course" and just keep taking one step forward each day.

That's the one lesson that several people have recently commented has had a big effect on their life as well... to keep taking one step each day.

So that brings me to this moment now... where I'm taking my one step forward on gurustu.com. My promise to myself was to do one thing for ME each day... and this site is it... this blog is me stepping forward.

11:05 PM

Tuesday, April 22, 2003
I'd like to thank the Academy... 
I know I used this title before, but this time I actually went over to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences theater. I went to a Hollywood Premiere of John Grisham's The Painted House, which is to air this Sunday on CBS.

I do love these things. The actors from the film mingle in with the rest of the crowd. Scott Glenn, who played the grandfather, was all smiles. There were a number of recognizable faces in the crowd... you know, people who make you go "hmmm." Diane Delano, who I had met in a Costco during the days she was on the Ellen show, was there (she played the wife of the Hill Family). She's probably best know for her role on Northern Exposure, but she works all the time. After some mind-prodding, she remembered me, which was nice. I can tell she was sincere, because she remembered some details that an otherwise polite person would have long forgotten.

There were also a bunch of the people from the Valley Family Film Festival there, so I was among friends as well as strangers.

Besides all that, the movie was quite good. A number of touching moments; a bit of lag here and there; and the signature Grisham -- someone seeing something they weren't supposed to. I enjoyed it. Of course while you're at these events, the movie is FAAAAABBBBBUUUULOUS... until you get home (hey, you never know who's behind you).

The food afterwards was FAB-U-LICIOUS too... But I better not weigh myself tomorrow, the reviews might not be so favorable.

10:51 PM

Monday, April 21, 2003
The After Taste Lingers On... 
Today was a typical day, filled with blah-blah-blahs and yadda-yadda-yaddas; nothing of any consequence, really... yet between the moments of every day, was the lingering moments of yesterday. Some people who still turn to me for guidance brought up some issues from the past. It's amazing how much power some bad moments can have. The feelings that can cloud our decisions; the decisions that cloud our feelings. Many of the issues revolve around the "same old thing" ... stuff that you'd think would be resolved by now... after all, we've got the posters and the awards to talk about our lofty goals. Then why all the pain? the apathy? this great desire to get away?

I think that we still have a distance between the words we speak and the world we live in. I'd like to think that I'm not lost within that gap. I value my principles and these people. I won't let the after taste of days gone bad affect my judgement. I feel that as long as I stay a man of my word, my world won't be too far off the mark.

9:17 PM

Sunday, April 20, 2003
Far From the 50's... 
Tonight I finally got a chance to see Far From Heaven, about not-so-perfect life in the 1950's. Ironic as it might seem, it touched on the very subject of diversity that I marvelled at yesterday. That which seems so common place today was so scandalous back then.

I know we still have quite a ways to go before we sees the differences among ourselves as our greatest strength. I'm not blind to the intolerance and hatred between people, but I'm so glad that we've come as far as we have.

Hopefully we're closer to Heaven now than we were back then. Looking back gives me hope to look forward.

10:38 PM

Saturday, April 19, 2003
Little Microcosm 
Next door to the laundromat sits a little corner park. It's a great place to enjoy the sun while you wait for those underheated dryers to wrinkle your clothes. All around the twists and turns of the play set were neighborhood children of all shapes and size; such diversity of looks and languages. It was a joy to watch them enjoying play, unconcerned with their differences; oblivious to the way adults behave around the world. It was so full of hope... let's all hope they remember to stay that way.

At the end of the day, and the other end of the spectrum, I saw an elderly man outside the local drug store. He had a cup held out to anyone who could spare him a glance and a dime. I was too far away to be one of those people, but I wished him well. I wondered how he got there... what brought him to such a place... was he once a prominent business man, with a family and kids who played in the park? Was he once one of those kids himself?

Did he still have hope?

Such little moments in my life, yet representing such big issues in life...

And all I wanted to do was laundry and get some shampoo.


11:12 PM

Friday, April 18, 2003
On the road again... 
Reflected on the day as I drove home tonight, the song "on the road again" just sort of popped into my head. I think because I just spent a whole bunch of money on new tires (and brakes, and alignment and blah-blah-blah). I really didn't rotate them as often as I should have, and now I paid the price.

But "on the road again" wasn't just the theme because I got new tires. Figuratively as well, I think I'm getting back on the road again. At work, had a meeting with my boss about rebuilding my team; certainly not back up to the old days ('cause of headcounts, budgets and, of course, blah-blah-blah) but at least to a level where we can be at a more optimum productive level.

Just like my car, the team is in good running order, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to get some new "treads" to make our ride a bit smoother.

10:05 PM

Thursday, April 17, 2003
What Time Tells... 
Flashback 2000... a slightly younger me, having given up the struggles of a dying business, went back to work in the Corporate World. It wasn't what I wanted to do, by any means; but rather what I felt I HAD to do. Today was my third year anniversary, and all day I reflected back at the road I've been on these last 1,000 plus days.

There are days I miss my old business... working at home, doing things my way. It usually happens after lunch, when some monotonous voice is reading from the Powerpoint slide they created the night before. Those days were more exciting to be sure, but scarier too. Slide or no slide, the job was stable. I don't regret deciding to put aside my pride for someone else's Powerpoint.

I've learned a lot these past three years. I've seen good and bad in a lot of people. I've seen rates falling and towers falling, and with each Life event, I saw a little bit more of the people I shared my days with.

I've learned lessons I could do without. I learned how to be ruthless and mean; and careless and thoughtless and heartless...

And I learned how to ignore that; to go my own way.

When people look back upon their lives, some think on the events and their own accomplishments. "I built this, I managed that..." and, sure, there are some things I'm glad I was a part of. But there is nothing more special to me than the lives that I have touched; and the people who have made me a better person just by knowing them.

Having people who are no longer on my team, come to me for leadership and coaching, brings me honor.

Having strangers come to me, who have heard of my expertise, brings me pride.

Having my team's faith in me, brings me humility.

A former team member once said to me, "you have the same integrity now that you showed when I first met you." Those words still echo in my heart.

And the achievement which holds the most pride for me involves Leika, who worked as an admin that day three years ago. She was someone that so many others only saw as an admin, yet I saw so much more... I saw an artist, a shining underutilized, undervalued talent. I believed that anything could happen, if you only had faith in it... and I helped her out of that admin job to become a wonderful web designer on my team. And for that all she "owes" me is to be the best creative person she can be... that alone pays everyone more than anything we could ever give her.

Besides, there's a grace in giving to others, that not everyone understands... especially in the Corporate World, where we sometime forget the same rules apply.

I feel more right doing what I'm doing, the way that I do it... being undeniably myself, even when it doesn't make sense to others... much more so than if I bought into the Corporate Way, if I became what was expected of me...

And I feel much more right being where I am, (Powerpoint) sliding into a stupor... because good, bad or indifferent, these past three years have brought me back to me in ways words just couldn't express.

'Nuff said.

10:15 PM

Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Getting back to the center... 
A mixed day for much of it, but it ended unexpectedly well. Called into a meeting at the very end of the day, I kind of thought that I'd just be doing my managerial duties, when a spark of creativity came into play. Just talking about some new "stuff" that we need to promote out, I just got into my "writer" mode and turned into an infomercial... announcer voice and all.

When I finished, they paused; staring blankly at me; not sure if I were serious or not. Then the silence broke:
"That was good."
"Did you write that down?"
"Put that in the presentation for tomorrow morning."
I went into Writer mode and basically created their commercial copy, plus two tags lines (which mostly got more stares and "it's too late for me to think about that").

I only thought to write about it because of yesterday's entry. It's so easy when we're centered.

It just feels right.

9:18 PM

Tuesday, April 15, 2003
The Ring Around the Zone 
We all have an inner circle of stuff we're really good at. Far outside of that is all the stuff we're not good at. In between that is a ring of stuff we sorta do well. That ring is filled with things that we might make better with effort, or just stuff we need to do despite our lack of expertise.

That was my day.

I'm an artist, OK? I draw things... I write stuff... but hand coding html? Come on!
But I had  
I don't have a programmer on my team, and I needed to get some of those outer ring things done...

So I had to do it myself.

It wasn't so bad, but it was a stretch for me... it made the day go by a bit slower... and it didn't work like I wanted it to... and I had to work harder to get a little distance... but it expands that ring around the zone.

Sounds fattening.

9:35 PM

Monday, April 14, 2003
Getting a piece of the rock... 

Went with my mom to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum this weekend, and it wasn't until this morning that I looked at the picture taken of us with a wax figure of The Rock. Seems my mom is getting a piece of the Rock.

You gotta click on the picture to get the idea.

Getting a Piece of the Rock

10:30 PM

Sunday, April 13, 2003
The four S's of Surviving... 
...a Vegas buffet.
No one can ever eat all-you-can-eat. You always ending up eating MORE-than-you-can-eat and paying for it later.

Here's how I tackle that hurdle...

Pile up the greens to cut the edge. Stay away if that salad has pasta, bread or potatoes.

Take a little, little bit of everything. This way you get an idea of what's out there without overdoing it.

If you really like something, take a little more of just those.

If you absolutely have to have dessert, go for one cookie or sorbet or yogurt or fruit. Just because you've been good up til now, doesn't mean you can go crazy now. This is the home stretch, so don't stretch your stomach now.

Keeping the servings SMALL will help you come out a BIG winner.

8:56 PM

Bringing it home... 
The amazing power of technology. As I type this a CNN reporter and crew are driving into some of the most dangerous parts of Iraq, armed with a rifle and a video phone. Though choppy quality, it was completely live, from the talks with the locals to the frantic escape under a hail of bullets. Talk about tense! You feel as if you're right there with them. "Bravery" or "stupidity" is a matter of opinion, "amazing" is beyond question.

7:23 PM

Saturday, April 12, 2003
Of meat and memories 
I went with out to dinner with my parents and friends from their college days. The thing about all-you-can-eat buffets is that they give you an awful lot of time to reminisce. The fact that their memories are better than their hearing makes for some entertaining times.

You remember when we drove through the mountains?
Yeah, that sure was great.
You wore the brakes out in the car, it was so scary.
Oh yeah, heh heh.
Heh heh.

By the way, it sure is tough being "good" when the food is so good. Coming from a carbaholic family, it's not easy to avoid breads and pastas. They attack from every angle; jumping off the plate and not just landing in my stomach, but staying there for years. There was a time it was the only type of food that really filled me up. Now I stick to meats and vegetable. I don't have a scale to see how well I'm doing, but it feels pretty good.

I DON'T HAVE A SCALE TO... oh, nevermind.

9:08 PM

Free time... 
The Vegas experience is directly proportional to the amount of money you have at your disposal. Sure, they say that the
best things in life are free, but here "free" comes with a price. "Free drinks" and "free rooms" usually end up costing a couple hundred bucks.

Since I'm not much of a gambler, mostly all I'm getting right now is a lot of noise and smoke...

... and free time.

6:45 PM

Friday, April 11, 2003
Waking the dead... 
Staying in the same hotel room with one's parents can be an adventure. They're snoring so loud they could wake the dead.

Perhaps they'll get their chance. I heard from the taxi driver on the way over here that the National Mortician Association is coming into town for the weekend.

11:12 PM

Thursday, April 10, 2003
I'd like to thank the academy... 

Actually it's Nem5 that made my day today. I applied for this award about four months ago and all but figured I didn't get it. This one is rated among the top awards on the net to get, so I just thought they saw my site and moved on. I'm glad they didn't.
Here's what they said about my site:

Your website, Gurustu's Words O' Wisdom, has earned the Nem5 Web Maggic Bronze Award. You have created a truly imaginative and fun site to visit. I really had a great time on your site. Thank you for building such a wonderful addition to the internet community. Good luck in all you do.

It made my day. So I'll just stop now to enjoy it.

I'm also off to Las Vegas for the weekend. I hope to keep blogging, but if not, I'll catch up when I get back. Haved a good one, all!

Nem5 Award

6:00 PM

Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Just because you can... 
Just because you CAN... doesn't mean you SHOULD.

I was at another film festival meeting this evening and listened as more and more people were volunteered for projects. There were several that I'm certainly capable of doing, but I'm already doing the entire web site. That, along with my usual job and gurustu.com, has got me booked solid. The last thing I need is MORE. Remember, I did an article once called "Do Less for More." The opposite is also true... doing more often results in you doing less.

I've already seen several people from previous meetings flake. They had "too much" so they're dropping the festival. I don't want to be one of those.

So I stayed quiet... doodled and took some notes. Keeping focused; keeping lean.

Because I CAN stay quiet, I SHOULD stay quiet... so I DID stay quiet.

And that's enough for me, for now.

11:14 PM

Tuesday, April 08, 2003
A new show for Fox! 

Is there a full moon today or what? Every one of the clients went a little crazy today. Not just some of them, mind you... all of them.

I appreciate their need of my group. Believe me, being appreciated these days feels like a golden gift... but please take a number! All day the phone rang off the hook for rush projects without any directions.

"We just need it, and you're creative, you'll come up with something, I'm sure. I'll check back with you in an hour to see what you've got (click)." If it weren't for my display phone, I don't think I'd even know who that was.

Clients Gone Wild!

Then comes my favorite... "I know we told you we wanted this, but now they want that... can you just change everything?"

...or this "we need this graphic right away, they're screaming for it... oh wait, hold on... um, nevermind."

I don't know if we can get them exactly what they want in such a short time, but I have just the perfect thing for what they need.

10:33 PM

Monday, April 07, 2003
Directions as clear as mud... 
In a previous blog I spoke about how empowerment needs clear cut directions to be most effective. This was really evident today when a web site rolled out that pretty much had nothing to go on. First off, it was months late (mostly due to committee delays) and not many people even knew what it was SUPPOSED to do, since it changed hands from programmer to programmer and manager to manager, all without very clear documentation.

The web site was actually started before I started the job... then it came to me, but not the resources to get it done... then someone else took it, it came back to me, then away from me again... and now that the latest version has rolled out, it's back to me.

Perhaps this next round will have the right mix of tools, ability and DIRECTION to not only empower the site, but the people who build it as well.

9:18 PM

Sunday, April 06, 2003
Going to the dogs... 
And the cats... and the birds, bugs, reptiles and rabbits.

I went to the Pet Expo in Costa Mesa today. The animals were very friendly... and far more sane than some of their owners. Dog people are the talkative sort, but cat people? Sheesh, they can be as aloof as their pets. One woman went around yelling "don't touch unless you ask!" (really, I had no intention...)

They say that animals take after their owners, but you know, I think maybe it's the other way around...

11:08 PM

Saturday, April 05, 2003
Getting to Neutral... 
Whenever someone asks me about how to take control of their hectic life, I usually tell them to "get to neutral." Relax, be silent for a while, remove all judgement and get to a centered place so that you can move in any direction who choose.

Well, today I saw a couple of variations on that theme.

First off, reflecting on the week's events, and talking to some of the other people who've been through similar reviews definitely demonstrated the department's big push towards everyone getting a "3" on a scale of "5." They say it's solid because it shows that everyone is where they should be. The response so far is that everyone getting those three's pretty much feels neutralized. Getting to neutral... hmmm... not exactly the same meaning I intended.

And then I hit a couple of other neutral moments today as well, totally unrelated to work. It was a pretty average day, with pretty average chores. By evening, when it was time to go to one of my average places to eat, I pretty much felt averaged all the way to neutral. It felt pretty boring.

Of course, I guess neutral is SUPPOSED to be a bit boring. After all, you're only supposed to get to it, so that you can go someplace else. Staying in it is what it is... nothing. And although Nothing is good, I suppose Something is better.

I wanted Nothing, I got Nothing... so now it's time for Something.

(actually that something is bed, and we "lose" an hour tonight... so I'm going to see if I can "find" that hour in my dreams... good night)

10:32 PM

Friday, April 04, 2003
Crossing borders... 
"Crossing borders to liberate oppressed people" might sound like a headline of the daily newspaper, but it pretty much describes how I felt this morning.

A year ago a line was drawn in my territory. Half of my staff was 'acquired' by another manager (and later several others were also taken by the same person). Since that time I saw the morale of those people disappear; several of them left for other places; projects that were once shining examples of creativity laid to waste.

Review time has hit many of them hard. I see the anger and frustration (shock and awe, if you will) after they come out from behind closed doors. It's sad for me, since I once worked very hard to groom them to their full potential. Now I see them as Prisoners of Work. I feel like an outsider much of the time; wondering how, or if, I can even help them.

This morning one of them, a friend as well as a former team member, asked for help. I sat with him for several hours talking about his goals, both professional and personal, and tried to help him prepare for his review later in the day. I did my best to focus on HIS needs, keeping my personal feelings about the past out of it (not an easy thing to do sometimes). The thing about empowering someone is you have to just provide them the tools and the direction, but then you have to let them take it from there.

After work, I met up with a number of friends from work (incl. someone who had just been laid off the week before). I heard from the last person arriving, at 7 pm, that the review was still going on when she left work at 6:15 pm. I wonder what a fly on that wall would be hearing... and I hoped that I had enough to help him through that time.

And out of all this, I've been reminded of lessons for myself as well. I look at the people around me and still think of the past too much. I let all those memories and bad feelings get in my way sometimes. I'm guilty of putting the past in my future, and am reminded once again how important it is to live in the present, so that we can move successfully into the future.

Next week should be an interesting future indeed....

8:26 PM

Thursday, April 03, 2003
Sleepy Hollow 
Today was a day of solitude and servitude. I worked at a remote office which offered quiet times for work and reflection. And throughout the day people turned to me for creative or leadership advice; the servitude of which made me feel good.

Yet snuggled in among those moments was a sleepy hollowness that I couldn’t pin down. It wasn’t until the long drive home that I was able to make any sense of it all.

I gave the review to the last one on my team. It was all nice and glowing, and positive and full of the same support and heart that my other reviews had… but it just seemed different; being that it came after my own review yesterday. With all these classes and meetings and pushes towards mid-line conformity, it seemed almost like inappropriate praise day. Now he deserves the scores I gave him; he earned them. In fact, the scores were almost identical to last year; which either means he’s consistent, or I still think as highly of him this year as I did last year. But what bothers me is that it is exactly like it was last year… right now he shouldn’t be getting high scores… he should have gotten a promotion. That way, he would fit into the proper box, but at a higher level. Because it’s the same, it means nothing has moved forward… and THAT is what’s bothering me.

Then in comes my review for comparison. Fitting so nicely into the mold, I wonder if there’s any growth for me. After all, you have to get rave reviews for a long time before it’s even discussed. If I’m “where I should be” as the score indicates, then where am I to go?

I think I’ve actually grown a little these past months. Not in the sense of promotion, but of more appreciation. What I have is very good. I believe I’ve appreciated that before, but there was a lot of other “stuff” that tainted it. So now that I’ve gotten through it, everything just seems better. It’s kind of like putting on clean clothes you’ve been through the swamp. You’ve always had them, but they mean more to you in retrospect.

So I’ve been through the swamps of Sleepy Hollow… now hopefully the headless horseman won’t be wearing my clean shirt.


7:15 PM

Wednesday, April 02, 2003
More like a snack... 
Yesterday I said that my performance review would either be a feast or famine... well, it was kinda like a snack, more than anything else. Compared to the two hours I've been giving to each of my people, my time slot was half an hour. We went for 45 minutes by the end of it, so let me settle on calling it a "light meal" -- a sandwich and an apple instead of a bag of peanuts. Anyway, that's just making me hungry, which isn't my point.

As far as reviews go, mine was fine. It will fit nicely into their preconceived boxes of acceptability. Very little of it came as a surprise. There were a few items that were big enough issues for my review, yet apparently not big enough to deal with when they happened. Some things I'm still unclear about and will have to investigate just what events took place that I missed. Certainly if there's some unfinished business, I want to take care of it right away. Or perhaps I can uncover something that I can learn from. Or I can just take note of it, and move on.

I didn't get a copy of the review at the end, so I will have to wait for a copy to be sent. Then I can really study it in depth; and take it to heart.

I was really glad I prepared for this meeting by mapping out the team's 90 day plan. It turns out I had several items already planned that coincided with my manager's ideas for my improvement. Showing him that I do actually know how to run my business helped, I think.

And for the little time I had left, I had my chance to have my say... things that also should've been said long ago; things that have no bearing on a review, or even the state of the department as it stands now... but it was time. The politics, the back stabbing, deliberate sabotage... all the stuff that I allowed to victimize me and the team. I showed him the damage and named the ones behind it... and I told him what I needed to rebuild. That there's a difference between being unhappy and not being happy... and that there's nothing wrong with the way things are; it's just that it could be so much better. I told him that I still had faith that we can get better; but for that we need their support... not just acknowledgement, but their commitment... to be PRESENT with us.

Well, time's up.

Other commitments, reviews, meetings... you know. I hope the message got through.

Then I went off to spend the last ten minutes of the day with my team... my cherished team, who meant even more to me after my review than before... because I knew where my priorities lie... with them.

And before going home, I heard what another manager was planning... to just email the reviews because "reading them was a waste of time." All questions would be handled in their review meeting, if they had any. I didn't know what to say. It's certainly not the way we were instructed to deliver the message. "Wow" was all I could say. Not because that giving each person some alone time with their reviews is such a bad idea... but that's not the message. The message isn't "reading the reviews are a waste of time." It's "your feedback, and consequently YOU, are a waste of my time." Not in those words, of course not... but judging by the reactions I saw from those people, they certainly got THAT message loud and clear.


Well, time's up.


7:55 PM

Tuesday, April 01, 2003
When feedback feeds you back... 
Today was a day about feedback; giving and receiving positive feedback to be exact... and the richness that it can bring.

Sometime back a coworker created an application to help pick complimentary colors. It wasn't his job to do it, yet it's been a great tool for my team. So to show my appreciation, I nominated him for a departmental award. This morning, after his yearly review, he came by to give me a thank you card because my nomination improved his annual score. It started my day off with a smile.

Later in the day, I gave my yearly review on a member of my team. It went very well, because she did very well last year. In fact, my whole team did very well... because they're a talented group of people. You see, when you're a small group with similar talents, it's like being on an island; not knowing what else is out there. The team doesn't see what DOESN'T go on... they see me praising their work, but they don't see me not praising other's work. They see me mentoring them, but not taking others under my wing. So when review time comes around, it's hard to guess what the criteria might be. I'd like to think that my criteria wasn't about their level of skills against one another, but rather their skills based against the entire field of designers out there.

Feedback can help feed your soul... when done right... and hurt your soul, if not.

After all, it comes down to being judged by someone else... and that judgement affects your future. So there's a lot riding on it.

It got me thinking about how much the reviewer's perspective has on the outcome. Sure, we can claim to be objective, but it is still very subjective. If you're looking to put someone down, you can; if you're looking to bring someone up, you can. After all, you're looking back upon a whole year; you pick and choose what events matter more than others.

Also it depends on where you start from. For many reviewers, they start at zero and force the reviewee to work their way up to a good score. Other people start at the top and let the bad examples bring the number down (which is more what I'm prone to doing). This year I started at "3" -- the exact center -- and then let the positives and negative move the score. If I could justify a higher score, a higher score is what they got. If not, the score settled down to what I felt was right. It was as objective as I could be in my subjective opinion.

On one hand, I'm very aware of my tendency to look for the best in people; to find reasons to praise and boost up their morale. On the other hand, I understand the importance of tempering it with fairness. People can't grow if you just look at the good stuff. Giving them a chance to improve is perhaps a better gift than just telling someone how "wonderful" they are.

Tomorrow is my turn to receive feedback. I'm very interested to see what feast or famine awaits.

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9:20 PM


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