Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gotta Be Me

Me . . . in a hat. Really, this is me. I love hats. I think I look kinda cute in them. Even for an old girl. The older I get, the more I care about what I think and what I like. Other people's opinions are important to me but ultimately, my own is the only one that matters.

In my last post, I talked about allowing myself to be influenced by others. I talked about how I changed my management style and about how it was the wrong thing to do. People have asked me why. Really, it all boils down to the fact that I had little choice.

As a company, we had spent millions of dollars on a customer focused, service oriented way of doing business. One where you coach employees and focus on team. That's a good thing, in my mind. We had an outside consulting company design an entire program. I was part of the team that contributed best practices. It was an honor. The company designed a huge, 2 year training program. They designed forms and processes and scripts. It should have worked. For some it did.

With best intentions, the company said "You will manage this way". "Our way". The message was that it didn't matter what we had successfully done for many years. Do it their way.

Now, I am all for learning, growing, and improving. I liked the program for the most part and felt it was a move in the right direction. But I am an individual. And a child of the sixties and seventies. I believe there is, to use an old southern expression, more than one way to skin a cat. (Don't email me on that one!) I believe that the end result is what is important and there are many ways to get there, within an individual's comfort zone. But I tried it their way.

My main problem was the paperwork. I manage individually and forms just don't work for me. I coach but don't follow a script. The structure of this program was killing me. But I was told I must do it that way. My performance was judged on doing it their way. So I lost my way.

Combined with personal issues related to my children and my Mom's death, the whole process caused me to lose my confidence in every area of my life. Nothing was normal for me, at work or at home. It all came to a head on a conference call in May with executives. It was bad. I won't share the gory details but the Tere everyone knew, the Tere I knew, was gone.

My friend Lori, one of the most caring and honest people I know, was listening on that call. She told me the truth. She told me I had never grieved over my Mom. That I needed to ask friends for help and not try to handle it all myself. That I needed to get back to being the Mom my kids were used to, the mother that my Mom was to me. She was right.

So it was time for some reflection. You can't really go back to being who you were. I didn't really want to go backwards. That would be saying I had not learned anything from the experience. I wanted to remember who I was but take what I had learned and go forward as a better person. To keep who I was at the core and add the good things to build a stronger me.

So I apologized. To more people than I care to divulge. I apologized to my kids. I asked them for help. Together we decided what the problems were and we fixed them. I apologized to my employees and we shared a plan for change. I apologized to my boss and told her what I needed from her to make things better. And they were all supportive. They were just as glad to see the real me as I was to be there. There was no turning back.

Sometimes in our lives we go through experiences and we say we will never do that again. Sometimes we backslide. Sometimes we allow ourselves to be manipulated. And other times, we remember our core values and know we will not ever allow it to happen again. Is that called growing up? Maturity? Wisdom? I don't know, but I know I have it now.

It feels good to be back.


calimountainmama said...

I'm glad you're being you. You're a good you to be. :)

Imagine daughters of an army general, unable to cope with structure and rules. What the hell happened? He raised us to be that way, though he may not have planned to. It's like a double-edged sword, that dad passed on to us: "You don't have to do anything you don't want to do." / "Do as I say because that's the way I say it is." No wonder we all have issues!

I also feel guilty because I grieved A LOT for Mom, and still do, and have used you to do so. Maybe you (and Mickey) were so busy making sure me, Taj, dad, and your children were okay...that you forgot to go crazy for a little while yourselves. You should - it really helps - and I feel great these days only because of those dark months I spent enduring the greatest depression of my life.

Love you!

Tere said...

I think that whole "daughters of an army general" has something to do with a lot of things!

Yes, I was pretty busy making sure everyone else was okay . . . in my own way anyway. I have had my time to grieve now and still do on occasion. But it is peaceful and quiet grieving.

From experience with Gary, I knew I would get there but I forgot I had to go through the other stuff, the hard stuff, first. I was too busy pushing all that away because I didn't have time for it and had too many other things to worry me.

Glad we are both on the other side of all that. I'm really glad you're my little sis and you sure have grown up nicely. Not quietly, but nicely ;)