Today, I was blessed to attend a very big event at work with six or so of my co-workers. The event was suit and tie. There were 500 people. The food was catered – there were FOUR CHOCOLATE FOUNTAINS – there were presidents – there were CEOs of companies floating around – there were huge powerpoint presentations – and the words ‘synergy’ and ‘holistic’… you get the point. After about one hour of presentations, I looked to my left and to my right and I realized “Crap – I am the youngest person in this room of 500 people.” I felt totally overwhelmed and thought “Why am I here?”
To make things more intense, I was seated next to my boss. I will call him “Boss Dude.” Okay, I was not seated next to just any boss… I was seated next to an “Executive Vice President” who has enough power to crush my life and my career. Seriously, this guy manages thousands of people and has enough sway to do just about anything he wants. Boss dude flew in from some big city just to attend this event and meet my co-workers. I was excited, flattered, and nervous about sitting next to this bro-ham.
A few speakers did their thing, and then it was time for a break. The first thing “Boss dude” did was get up and walk away from our table. Everyone else at the table did what people do and have a discussion, but boss man made it clear he could care less about having discussions with his employees. Then, when Boss Dude came back he was… miserable. He talked about how many meetings he had, he talked about how he missed his family, he talked about how he was just ….. BLAH. Every time someone at the table spoke he brought the conversation back to himself and then said something negative. I kept trying to be witty, another worker kept trying to be witty, we were all trying to be positive and nice. However, this Boss Dude must have been having a bad year, because he had the ability to suck ALL of the joy right out of the room.
As of right now, I feel bad for the Boss Dude. From what he told me directly, he travels quite a lot, sees his family very little, and has a high stress job. From all that I gather – he is miserable. From what I deduce – he does not even see how miserable he is. What fascinates me about the Boss Dude is that every other person around me seemed to idolize him – or at least his title. They did not seem to enjoy his presence, but they listening to him ramble on about how miserable he is. I hope that Boss Dude is happy. I am sure he is a nice guy with a lot going on. However, he is just missing the point of it all. He does not seem to know what his priorities are and that they are in conflict.
After about an hour of listening to captain negative’s miserable ramblings – I became overwhelmed with happiness. I was overwhelmed for three reasons: 1) I realized that I may not have the power this man has or his stature. However, I am incredibly happy. He has worked hard. He is accomplished. But he is miserable – so what is the point? 2) I realized that although Boss Man could crush my career, he has no power over me other than what I give to him. I felt like others at the table kissed his butt a little bit and let him be a jerk. Being me – I did not do that. He was complaining for a while so I asked him, “Do you even like your job?” I did not care if my question hurt or helped my career, because at that point we were just two humans having a conversation. My question stopped him in his tracks. He did not even know if he was happy. 3) I was on a track to have a miserable life. I could be rich – or at least wealthy. I could have had stature and power over people and a big house on a hill. I could be stuck in a job where my co-workers are judgmental and unaccepting of who I am. However, I left that life behind me. I realized that life was not what I wanted, and trying to attain that life was slowly killing me. I had the power to realize I was unhappy – and I changed it.
There are so many things that make up a life. You have work, family, church, hobbies, kids, goals, the dog, travel, vacation, meetings, the bills, money, your pride… you have so many things. Trying to align these things carefully to maintain happiness can be quite a difficult task. I was happy I was invited to the event, but the table at which I was seated was filled with misery and discontent. So you know what I did? I left at the break. Yeah, that is right. I could have stayed and let Boss Dude suck the soul from my body. But I left. I then called my boyfriend to tell him about the event – that I love him – that I miss him – and that I am so happy to see him tonight. I imagine that if I stayed I would have brought home anger and misery. I do not want that. I know what my priorities are. Although I do struggle to keep those in line, I feel like leaving the event today was a reminder of how I am the only person to control my priorities.
If you are in a room full of 500 people and you cannot look around and be amazed – you do not get it. I was amazed at the chocolate fountain; while the Dude Boss would not get up from his table (I know, right!). If you are traveling all of the time when all you want to do is see your family – you do not get it. I am not saying travel is good or bad, or family is better, or that I know what the formula to life is for every person. What I am saying is that if your priorities are in conflict, it will often lead to discontent.
Today, I was easily the youngest person in the room. However, as I sit here typing I really believe that the Boss Dude (and a few other people in the room) could stand to look around and ask themselves…. “Why am I here?” and more importantly… “Is there somewhere else I want to be?”