Last night, we were
invited out to dinner. I went with a strange mix of anticipation and trepidation.
we had not seen each
other as two couples for months. And trepidation, as I was braced, wondering,
upset with whom and why? "
Over the last two
months, our relationship with our successor designates had been
become shaky. What I had believed to be solid foundations
were seemingly tenuous. Destabilized, I was close
to emotionally bailing out.
Thank goodness for Cia. She threw a
couple of agreements
in my face to wake me up to my commitments. I love that gal.
It turned out to be a
most enjoyable evening. The person I once knew, who I
thought was gone ... was ...
BACK! He and his wife were relaxed, open and positive, as were we.
Things were as they once were. A
comfortable ease. A wanting to be together. Friendly
Talking on a
human level, we caught up on everyday
things, about the joys in our lives, especially our dogs. The two hours were well-spent,
Today, I am feeling much
better about him, about both of them. Hopefully, a page has been
turned, never to be reread again.
"Spend your time counting your blessings,
not airing your complaints."
Mid-dinner, a complaint crept into the
conversation. I acknowledged it, then suggested that they
make it an opportunity for learning.
a Perfect World
No one is exempt from
misunderstandings and upsets. That's life. What distinguishes
successful people is that they are honest with their emotions (no
pussyfooting) and they confront, clarify, and handle
doing" is time-tested and -proven. I want them hone their
their own, in order to help themselves. They seemed
receptive to the suggestion that
they would have a heart-to-heart with a co-worker.
Leadership is part
and parcel of our professional positions, not only with our
clients but with our co-workers. We
are expected to assume leadership roles. As professionals in
our field, we are paid to lead.
If after their best efforts at resolution, an
impasse is met, then and only then, will I serve as
mediator. If they are our
future successors, they must pick up the reins and do so
willingly, acquiring skill with hands-on practice. Learn by
Holding the reins
comes with the territory. As a client, I would not want to be on a buggy
without a skilled driver, and an office must be run by those who
can hold to the reins with earned confidence and proven
of a feather flock together."
For our clients' sakes, as well
as our co-workers', I am selecting and grooming strong, high
integrity leaders to replace me.
I am looking for
effective leaders with strength, determination, and
intelligence, as well as capacities for compassion and grace. Our
office serves a large Hawai'i-rooted clientele, and the
willingness of our successors to willingly perpetuate core
human values, carefully
nurtured and cultivated for almost 20 years, is paramount to us.
I am running out of time,
so there is a certain sense of urgency. Maybe not as urgent
as tomorrow, but soon. One day, I will not be here.
I am 50 and wish to be fully available for my
next calling -- to write on professional and spiritual matters, as
well as from the heart. I am uncomfortable with keeping God
For the past two
years, this couple has worked
at our office as our successor designates. We have known him and
his family for 18 years, since he was ten years
old, and she is his wife from Hawai`i, who he met in professional
school, six years ago.
The person I'd known for 17
of those years was lighthearted, joyful,
and fun. His smile, his thoughtfulness, and his laugh were
endearing. I enjoyed his positive energy.
Upbeat, he thought, planned and expected positive results. He was clear with his goals
and focused in pursuing them.
"You can either be the designer of your
or the captive of circumstances."
~ R. Redenbaugh
He was a can-do, take-charge type of
guy, believing in making the future happen, in being the captain of his own
fate, the master of his own destiny.
Expressing that he
wanted to be a captain of his own fate, he was selected by us,
above 16 others (all clients at our
office) who followed in my professional footsteps. We passed
over three appealing business
arrangements to give him his shot -- his opportunity -- as I'd been
given, 18 years before.
Scouts, we had taken our oaths:
THE SCOUT OATH:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
[A Scout is
trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient,
cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent]
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally
I continue to abide by
the oath and the scout law, supporting and living its
life-enhancing precepts. His behavior indicated that he did
His kindness and
courteousness to our co-workers, clients, and to us, showed me he was a
committed Scout. In particular, his considerate and respectful
interaction with his grandmother caught my attention. Loving my grandmother
as I do, my heart warms to those who love theirs.
"Remember, truth is still truth even if it makes you mad
In early September, at the reception desk and to my surprise and two
co-workers', he announced that
he and his wife were
taking a week off during the holidays.
He knew, I knew, we all knew that this
would be the worst time to do so, not just for the sake of the office,
but for our clients. The younger clients return to us during
their Christmas break and at year's end, flex accounts need to be depleted.
This is akin to an
H&R Block tax preparer telling his office that he will be vacationing during the
week before April 15th.
I was being placed in
"that" place. You know the one: between a rock and a hard place.
I was flattened. Squish.
Just as on 9-11-01, I was
so taken by surprise that I was speechless. I felt my
"There’s strength in numbers."
Over the years, as our
client base grew, we added associates to provide
coverage, especially for the
busiest, in-demand times in the year. We were finally reaping the
perks of our focused work.
As students, my
husband and I worked every holiday week to afford Christmas
presents to send back to our families, and for more than ten years
at the office, my
husband and I
every Christmas break, which is one of two weeks in the
school year when he is on vacation from his work. We did it willingly, by choice and for our clients, as much as we would have loved to
have flown home to be with our families. We had paid
The news came just as
he was wrapping up his second year of associateship.
Just as with the world
events, I asked, " WWJD?" -- What would Jesus do? I was
being morally challenged on two fronts. I set aside my initial
dumbfoundedness, fears, and anger, and began praying for understanding,
compassion, and forgiveness, not only for the events of the world, but
close to home, my heart.
I pledged to turn this
negative into a positive, to begin to look for silver linings, but
first, I needed to help myself by seeking understanding.
Why didn't he just ask?
If he had simply asked --
instead of demanding with a declaration -- we and our co-workers would have helped him work out
his sticky situation. We can empathize how sticky in-law
situations can be.
Why wasn't he being
himself? If he'd just been himself, courteous and
respectful, his approach would have been solicitous and
conciliatory, easier to accept and deal with on a win-win
basis. Instead, he chose a brash and discourteous
I choose to not assume that
he is brash and discourteous. I will look, really look at each
aspect of this scenario, at each niggling detail. Like a jigsaw puzzle,
I intend to put this fractured picture together.
I solve best when I write.
Hang in with me. I am
seeing this as a challenge-series puzzle. After last night, I am motivated to
meet the challenge, unravel its knottiness, and solve this puzzle,
without even one piece missing.
I am striving toward
wholeness. The big picture.
"The truth hurts for a moment.
A lie hurts for a long time."
This is November,
it's taken this long to write about it, in large part due to the
world events triggered by 9-11. Everything else seemed trivial in
comparison, including my losses. When Cia urged me to talk to him about
it, I was not ready.
My emotions were
reactions would be colored by the uncertainty of the world
events. Overwhelmed, before working on this complex puzzle, I needed the balm of time to sit on it,
assimilate, and find my center again . There was more to this than what was meeting our eyes.
I sat on it for a week,
before I could
bring the office situation up with my husband, and I don't keep anything from him!
I am aware that things are still sensitive, two months later. I may be able to write
about it, but I still can't talk about it.
No one is exempt from
making mistakes. Had I made a
mistake? Were the tendencies for brashness and discourtesy
there, just below the surface? Had I discerned them...
Would I would have
recommended him for admission into my alma mater, into my
Would I would
have hired such a person as a student worker
in our office paid with monies that previously funded a student
scholarship that we had made in my predecessor's name? No.
Would I have hired
him as a
professional, right after licensure? No.
Would I have
designated him as my successor? No.
Would we have
hired his intended wife? No.
No one is perfect. The
human condition: We have each have our quirks and idiosyncrasies, bits and pieces of every quality. The
same quality that may be non-enhancing in a situation may be harmless,
or even beneficial in another. Brashness
and discourteousness are hardly faults for those who work
primarily with inanimate objects, say a computer, perhaps strengths for
those in adversarial positions. For a person who is in a
people-oriented, helping profession, they are dooming.
Had I blinded myself to see only
the qualities I wanted to see?
"We can go a lot farther together than we can alone."
When my husband and I
believe in someone, we go all out. We turn into pretzels, bending over
backwards to help those who are helping themselves. We've
been there. We know the weariness of struggle, of making ends
meet. We are now in a
position to help, give back with a helping hand.
We decided that we
would walk the extra mile
by employing his future wife at a time when it was not economically
opportune. We sacrificed some of our retirement/
profit-sharing funds to take her on as an employee during the
slower time of the year.
On a practical level,
we needed to get to know her
before we could make any long-term commitments. (We like her)
Working together, they
would have a chance to learn if they were a team, ready to take on
commitments that would impact them as a couple. After all,
most divorces are caused by money and work-related problems. We
had already passed on three prospects because of their spouses; we
liked the prospects, but their spouses were inclined to be takers,
not givers, with "what's in it for
me" hang-ups that would be
hard to overcome, or the marriages were rocky, period.
California's no fault
divorce status has contributed to the collapse of many successful
businesses. With more than one in two marriages failing, we are not
foolish gamblers. I come from a divorced family, and I know how
counterpurposes can wreak havoc on a thriving business.
Before the partnership reins were handed to us, my predecessor
and his wife, both with histories of multiple marriages and
accompanying "baggage" from them, made
certain that my husband and I were a compatible team with solid
foundations, i.e., a secure marriage. If
they were to finance us, "maybe" was not good enough. They
only proceeded when they felt confident that we were a sure bet. They
were not risking their retirement
security on just any couple. If we failed, they would, at their
ages, be unable to recoup their losses.
Although we had been
financially independent from our parents since our marriage at age 22,
my husband and I came from upper middle-class families with ample safety-net
financial reserves to cover our debts if we failed. That assured
them, but more importantly, they saw that we were steeled with good,
We had weathered our lean times of struggle, putting ourselves through graduate and professional schools, without
relying on our parents.
"Listening may be the most important thing you do today."
Fear breeds paranoia, and
when he made his announcement, I was not immune. We are either love, or we are fear.
I became fearful, and I decided
to confront fear, head-on. Seeking understanding, I sought
answers. I explored and entertained my worse fears, listening to
I was afraid to believe it,
but was this "other" person lurking just beneath the social mask
we wear, the one that thrives on approval and shows only what it wants others to see?
I feared that I had
merely imagined our soul connection. I feared that I had
deluded myself, creating an illusion.
I feared for our
clients: Would he treat them similarly, once their honeymoon period was over?
Mask or no mask, one thing was certain:
his behavior was that of a stranger to me. In hindsight, during the year, I
had sensed an emotional distancing. I attributed it to lifestyle adjustments:
exchanging the relatively carefree life of student to assume the
serious responsibilities of a new profession and career; a new marriage,
new in-laws, bills, long commutes, a new house, a mortgage,
That night in
September, I feared that I had lost not only a future partner and
successor, but someone who I thought of as the son I never had.
You see, when we love, we love each other like adopted family, hanai-an
style. It's a Hawaiian thing.
I feared losing the earnest young man I once knew,
the one who was eager to learn and at the ready to help. The one with the
strong work ethic, who needed no prompting. The
self-initiator. The one who was energetic and
enthusiastic. The one with the lofty ideals and huge goals.
The one who was open,
positive, and considerate, and easy to love.
My fear did not turn to
anger. It turned into sadness, into a slow grief. I dropped
my fear, and returned to love.
If this was who he was, I
would accept it. I have my share of warts. I'd love him for
whoever he was. Just as
I was moving on, I looked back and wondered:
Or was it his fear
that tipped the scales, as Cia suggested?
Presented with a situation
like this would his reaction have been anger? Did he project that
anger onto me?
Did he then become afraid
that I would be angry, so instead of being conciliatory, he did the
testosterone thing of coming on strong and aggressive by giving me no
options? "So there, take it or leave it!"
That approach works very
well with low self-esteem, weak women. Strong women who know God
is on their side may" take it" out of compassion, but they
also leave, in order to keep honoring their god-within.
Was he afraid that I would
say no, and he would have to deal with it with his wife and
in-laws? Family first, risk the job?
Or was this simply a
lapse in judgment on his part? Even monkeys fall from
overt is a transgression against the moral code of a
It is described as an aggressive or destructive act by the individual against
another or others."
said that she and Doni were as incredulous
as I was with how he handled the situation.
Being less emotionally attached and more in touch and articulate
with her feelings than I was, Cia later let him know how his
announcement impacted the office, them, and me.
"You should have asked, not
told her," she said to him.
His psyche had been
informed, in no uncertain terms, that he had transgressed against
the office moral code of Aloha -- of courtesy and concern for others --
and that his announcement was an aggressive, if not destructive,
act. To protect itself or make itself less guilty or wrong, the
ego often subconsciously then resorts to its usual
A month later, as
is typical in any business, a few misunderstandings had arisen and
client comments needed to be addressed. We met over lunch.
Reviewing the agreements beforehand, I kept my communications with
him "in the direction of truth and love," with
tact and impeccability.
From his vaguely defensive
reactions, I was not about to bring up deeper
The next day,
his wife shared with me that his feelings were hurt. "He's
very sensitive." The between-the-lines
message I picked up was that I was picking on him.
I, well, I blew my
mind. He was projecting
his overt on me!
would be the sense of my hurting him?
Would I hurt someone I had,
on several occasions, gotten out on a thin limb for, backing
him up, and building him up in the eyes of our clients, smoothed
things over? No.
Would I hurt
someone I'd taken chances on based on liking him and having
faith in him, investing heavily in his future, not only
financially, but with my whole heart? No.
Would I hurt
someone I regarded as family? No.
If I didn't tell
him what he was
doing wrong unknowingly or less than optimally, who would? Or
disinclined to initiate assistance. The last thing
I wanted to do was to " hurt" his feelings. If
what I was offering as feedback from his clients -- opportunities
for growth -- was being interpreted with a negative
slant, then so be it.
I had been rebuffed --
discounted -- with a psychological defense, a projection so
transparent that a Psych 101 student could have seen
right through it. The classic kettle calling the pot black.
Life is about choices. I
choose not to live in fear. Walking on eggs is walking in
draining, and all concerned become less than who they are.
We were now marching to
different drummers. I began to emotionally detach. Some
relationships are meant to be, and others not. Some are meant to be
short-lived; others, for life; and a few, for eternity.
In the big scheme of
things, each is a necessary stepping stone in the positive
direction, no matter how well disguised.
"Seek and ye shall find."
Disengaging doesn't happen overnight. I
remained concerned and committed to him at the heart level, as I clearly sensed that something was going on with him, on the soul level.
In the course of a
year, he'd became
serious. Several of us noticed it, commented on it, and hoped that
it was just a passing phase. Once, he was even antagonistic, almost combative, with a
co-worker. That was hard for me to believe then, now I could
positive and confident, he was more withdrawn. When he
communicated beyond the
pleasantries, it was to express his discontent about his co-workers' work
habits, attitudes, or performances.
For those who lead
busy lives, there's never enough time. We know full well,
however, that one makes
the time for those high on the priority list. I realized, that over
the year, I was doing
His growing passivity baffled
me all year long, as I saw him throw his hands up, yielding to
captivity by circumstances. No, not a victim of circumstances, but
an unwitting captive of them.
[Victim is not part of
my working vocabulary. It’s a word that implies passivity, helplessness, being at the mercy of others and the vagaries of fortune.]
Where was that
take-change, go-getter young man I had known?
A wise person learns from experience,
but a wiser person learns from the experience of others.
I have only my past
experiences to go by, and this was not how it was when I worked
for and with my predecessor. I had to clarify my thoughts, my
expectations, my hopes and dreams for the future.
No relationship is
But I was aiming for
a growth-enhancing, affectionate relationship, similar to the ones
shared by my predecessor and me for 15 years and my husband and me for
30 years. I will settle for no less. Maybe this was not what
he was aiming for...
Meeting my predecessor was
my Kairos, Greek for "moment of opportunity." I
didn't know it then and there, but I certainly did as I got to know him.
I enjoyed the time spent with my
predecessor, sought out his company, looking forward to our next
visit. As the rookie, it was
incumbent on me to facilitate
our meetings. When he first hired me, I was expected to be
at the office two days a week. I was there five days a week,
in large part to free my predecessor of his "drudge" work, so I could intercept
and take him out to lunch to pick his brain.
I wanted to learn the ropes from
him, first-hand, rather than from sterile
books and journals. He knew his clientele best.
He knew best what made his business successful. He had 50
years of experience, ups and downs, victories and defeats, and
past mistakes to draw upon.
At 75 years old with an imminent disability,
my predecessor would not be at the office for long. I wasted
no time. There was not enough time to learn all of his
wisdom. In short order, he became my mentor and yes, a
grandfather-figure, too. (That Hawaiian thing).
loved it. He did, too, and we began to forge a strong
and loyal relationship. We were
making deep and lasting
impressions on each other.
Maybe all of this was
unimportant to my successor designate...
"To get the most out of a relationship,
put all you can into it."
If I were to fill my
predecessor's shoes, I'd be smart to learn his every nuance of doing things, what
were the elements of his charisma with him with his well-established clientele, and what made him
To continue the office's success and provide the care to
which his clients had grown accustomed, I knew that it was
incumbent on me to accommodate to them, not the other way around.
He loved his clients,
serving as many as four generations in a family. He was
entrusting their care in the hands of his successor, and I needed
to show him, them, and myself that I was worthy of that
To his clients, I was the
"greeny," the rookie. While I had lofty ideals and huge
goals, I was unproven. I knew I was not a shoo-in just because he tapped
me as his successor designate..
The clients are the
"customers" with the choice to buy -- or not buy-- my services. I
am but a humble seller of my goods.
I was also aware that my predecessor was
my biggest "customer," who would choose -- or not choose
me -- as his successor. I was selling myself to him with
every thought, word and deed. I was the lowly purveyor of my services.
The ball was in my
court. These were my choices:
I could either take it,
do my very best and run with it.
Or, I could do
less than my best and let it
Or, I could give
up and throw it to someone else to take it and
"By far the most devastating and detrimental behavior... is making excuses or looking for excuses for
We each have a pesky ego,
often insecure, sometimes inflated, and I kept mine in
check. No small feat.
Keeping judgment and censure at bay, I attentively
listened, carefully observing how my predecessor regarded and interacted with his clients. I
especially learned from his victories and defeats, including how he had
patiently -- and impatiently -- trialed 51 prospective
successors before I came along.
We developed a
cherished and rare kupuna
(elder) - haumana (student) relationship. And he
did not have a drop of Hawaiian blood. You'd never guess
it. I guess that the power of hanai (adoption, out of love).
I am a teacher
at heart, as he was. Of what use is a dedicated teacher if
the student is unwilling? Just as "when the student is ready, the
guru appears", "when the guru is ready, the
student appears." I became his last student. His
most willing student.
cherished his pearls of wisdom, gathered over his lifetime of work
and living. None of them are found in any book, or taught in any
class. Much of what I was learning was specific to the
I let him know that I
welcomed his feedback, positive or negative. "Tell me if I'm doing
something wrong, or if I can do something better," I
Through eyes of experience, he
obliged. When the feedback was not
what my ego wanted to hear, I bit my tongue and dropped my
defenses. Reacting poorly would put a halt to his astute
observations. I knew that making a single excuse could be fatal,
and I would be the biggest loser.
I remained grateful
for his feedback, not always gently given, either. He was
direct, and I trusted his intention. He was keeping me out
of the school of hard knocks.
If he didn't tell me what I was
doing wrong unknowingly or less than optimally, who would? Or
The only winning
relationship is the win-win one , and we proactively worked to make and
keep it so. And yes, we did hit a few bumps, but we
worked together to smooth them out.
Maybe as a teacher, I
was not yet ready. My predecessor waited 75 years for me. I will
learn patience. Like him, I am an aspirant to love, a sucker for
hugs and kisses. Like him, I am a get-up-and-try-again soul,
an experimenter, an eternal optimist.
If these are things that my successor
designate does not aspire to, then I will accept this. My predecessor
taught me it is possible to be patient.
"When the student is ready,
the teacher will appear."
In hindsight, this was one
of the keys (there are others) to our office's subsequent
(yes, booming) success: I had to put my stubborn individualistic
streak on the back burner, in order to merge and become coherent with
him, his staff, and his clientele.
The transition was
seamless and seemingly effortlessly, despite vast differences in our differences in age,
gender, race, ethnicity, and training. We moved on from
successor designates to successors, and it has been smooth sailing
overall, with a few squalls to keep the ride interesting and us,
Some might attribute the
office's success to luck. I attribute a good part of it to our love and respect
-- my predecessor's and mine -- for each other and for our
The key words are: we,
us, our. This "third entity" has a life of its own.
When nurtured, it is that entity that makes marriages
succeed. What works in marriages, also works in business
relationships and friendships.
My predecessor and I
shared a burning desire to make each other successful, at work and in life. When
he retired, we kept our mentor
and mentee relationship. He remained my teacher, and I, his
student. In time, we became dear and affectionate
friends, despite our two-generational age difference.
Until his death 14
years later, we stayed in touch, talking
on the phone and going out of our way to have lunch together. By
his request, my husband and I were two of only six non-blood-relatives who were invited to his very
private funeral for family
I well up as I
write this. He was being considerate to the end, knowing that it
was important for me to accept the reality of his death. As
important was the affirmation that it was only his dead
body that was being buried. His soul is elsewhere, flying
free. The custom for the family and others gathered at the graveside to shovel dirt onto the
coffin is a good ritual that reinforces this truth. This
I did, but only after I gently tossed a lei of plumeria that landed at
the head of his casket.
I want what my mentor and
I shared: a meaningful,
soul-satisfying relationship, one that now transcends death.
"For every ‘down,’ there should be an ‘up,’
but you can stay ‘down’ if you tax yourself too often."
It was clear to me that we,
my successor designate and I, were not on the same page. Without fluid two-way
communication, I was groping in the dark to make
sense of his change.
exhausted, I'd wonder. Taking on that extra day at the
other office, he's working six days a week. I had
looked at it with askance when I learned about it. Maybe I
should have said something then.
That long commute three times a
week -- fighting traffic to and from for at least three hours a
day -- takes it toll, working a total of six days a week. He was
courting burn-out. Who can do
their best work, exhausted and distracted?
Our clients would be the
first to be affected. Their care would suffer. I was now being
affected. Our relationship has suffered. As his
employer, I am a dog. That proverbial dog who feeds him, but I am
less important than our clients, who are truly the ones who feed
all of us.
the moon full that night?
Was cumulative fatigue
-- and a whipped body seeking respite in sunny Hawai`i at all
costs -- responsible for his inability to keep his center, stand
his professional ground, and resist the temptation to be careless, impatient and overly
Comments made in passing now
took on significance:
A co-worker observed that he
was downing caffeinated soft drinks, as Doni once did before his kidneys and bladder
rebelled, to pump up his
speculated that, by
picking up a sixth day of work in the week -- he was over-extended. By the time Thursday and Saturday came
along, we were getting "the leftovers" of his energy at the end
of the work week
wife mentioned that he seemed lethargic after work and
unmotivated when it came to physical fitness. While
she kept up her own gym activities and swimming, he was turning
coach potato. Even getting him to do anything on the weekends
as a couple was a challenge, she said.
Was he making the mistake made by his ex-brother-in-law, who sacrificed long-term rewards for short-term gains, thinking
he was building a rosy future for him and his wife? The marriage was short-lived, causing major disruptions,
hard feelings, temporary rifts, and great sadness within their
Living with a work drudge,
who's too tired for anything else, is no fun. His neglected wife, his wife's sister, looked
elsewhere for joy and found someone else, who was more nurturing and
The successful role
models in my life have taught me well. Part of their wisdom
was the importance of living in every dimension, participating in many
arenas, applying oneself in a variety of endeavors — family, work, play, sports, community,
service, and society at large.
Those who spend almost
all of their time grasping for money at the exclusion of
activities that balance the spirit court disaster, as this
leaves them with little or no time to acknowledge, appreciate, and
I know and have lived
this truth: We are given only as
much as we acknowledge, appreciate, and give back with our whole
heart and soul.
"All it takes for evil to triumph is
for good men to do nothing."
~ Edmund Burke
Perhaps a waging inner moral
battle was bringing him down?
Both had individually shared
with me that their other employers were involved in promoting an
unproven, unperfected procedure . They were being encouraged
-- almost goaded -- jump onto an alluring bandwagon, at the expense of
clients not being fully informed of all of the future
While they would never have the procedure done
on themselves, they were expected to promote it, if not
actively, then passively by going along with it by saying little or nothing at all.
discounted the scientific articles she had brought to him. She thinks he
never bothered to read them, preferring to cast a blind eye to anything
that was countering his plan to accrue professional favors to get his daughter into
his alma mater.
"With complacency comes eventual regression.
The procedure is IRreversible.
There is a known 5.7% (and rising) failure rate. Failed cases have no
They were being caught
between two stools. Our office chose not to gamble with our clients'
assests, but 9 out of 10 offices did.
earlier in the year, he told me how his other employer was
no longer encouraging the controversial procedure because
"the compensation was not what it once was." Apparently, his
employer was fine with it while it paid well, but not when it didn't. When
the procedure was no longer a lucrative cash cow, it was no longer
being recommended to the clients.
Seeing the real
world as less idealistic than as a student, perhaps this was
jading him? Was he disillusioned? Discouraged?
Was he demoralized
that his other office was not upholding its oath of "Above
all else, do no harm?" Maybe it was cognitive dissonance? Maybe he's in an existential
"One great mind deserves another."
Since this revelation,
was it a coincidence that I was seeing his spirit spiral slowly downward?
Was he feeling
"guilt by association" by working in a office that
promoted a procedure he did not believe in?
A Boy Scout who
took a weekly oath during his formative years might feel conflicted:
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally
As a former Scout, I
continue to abide by the oath and law. Their values are so deeply
ingrained in me that I know I would be
ambivalent and in turmoil if I were in their shoes.
Was there a bit of
mentioned that he was
wistful one day, telling her how his peers were already in the
money,starting their families, and were ahead of him in their
lives. The carrots being dangled were huge, and tempted everyone
in our field. A classmate and a former employee were making seven-digit
incomes pushing this procedure.
Thank goodness for my friend
Wayne, a great mind and friend, who taught me to resist dangling carrots.
"He who dies with the most toys - still dies!"
We didn't hold evening
seminars to sign up my clients, en masse, then take the money and get
the hell out out of Dodge before the other shoe dropped.
In a morally
challenging situation, their classmate Pauline
got out, when she learned the office she worked in was engaged in
dishonest activities. I admire her for keeping her integrity, even
if it meant losing a job. She was able to procure a situation where
she did not have to compromise her integrity.
The Scout oath is do-able.
Life is not a popularity contest. And the one with the most
toys does not win, as lawsuits take them all away.
"In times of change, learners inherit the earth,
while the learned are perfectly prepared for a world
that no longer exists."
Was I dealing with a Generation
X thing? I
know nothing about GenX and I know a little more: Air family, antisabbaticals, boomer envy, derision preemption, divorce
assumption, emotional ketchup burst, historical overdosing,
me-ism, mid-twenties breakdown, option paralysis,
overboarding, ozmosis, poor buoyancy, rebellion postponement, safety
net-ism, squires, successphobia, terminal wanderlust, yuppie
wannabes. Doesn't sound like these apply.
Was it a matter of
years? I was 32 years old and married for ten years, when I
was employed by my predecessor, compared to his present 28 years and two years of
marriage. Experience counts.
Was it a matter of family
influences? I was raised by a grandparent, with abiding
filial respect. His wife has told me that he was
"raised" by his peers, adopting more of their values and
aspirations than his parents'.
He didn't, she said, put
much store in what his parents had to say. Observing how
they were passive with their misbehaving dog and how they spoiled
his sister, she worried aloud that they might spoil their future grandchildren.
(That's their "job" as grandparents. My grandmother was
good at it)
Was it a matter of
differing world views?
This was the mantra
of mainland Japanese Americans,
who, including his grandparents, were forcibly removed from their homes and, against their
will, sent to relocation
camps during World War II.
When faced with
a situation perceived to be unchangeable or uncontrollable, they
gave up, saying "shikata ganai" ("there is no way"), which means
" it is utterly hopeless and there is no sense in even trying."
Could this world view account for his
contrast, my husband and I grew up in Hawai`i, as members of the ethnic
majority. I grew up with a diametrically opposite
mantra, directly passed down by my father who lived it
in every aspect of his life:
"Shoot the Works," "Go All Out," or
"Don't Hold BacK" have similar meanings, but not quite.
Broke!" is a uniquely Hawaiian slang phrase from the dice game, craps. "Go For Broke"
means to risk everything, give everything you have--all or nothing!"
I come from a family
of self-employed entrepreneurs, for whom working long hours was the norm and perceived as
an investment toward a freer, easier
life later. Self-starters.
Captains of their own fate. Doers. Activists.
We don't wait for things to
happen. We make them happen. We are overcomers. Yet, I have no idea of
where to begin to overcome a possibly
ingrained sense of futility and resignation?
Bottom line: We were
getting the distinct impression that his heart, mind and
spirit was drifting away from us.
Perhaps this was no longer his
work of choice, but of perceived necessity. Student
loan debts and house payments must be paid.
I began wondering if he had
mischosen his profession, yet I'd recalled how I implored him to
carefully evaluate why he was choosing our field. If making
money was a priority, he shoud, I encouraged, explore other career
He was staunch in his
decision, even as I challenged his motivations. Back then, he declared that he wanted to have an office
like ours, work in an office like ours, and take care of others as our
office did. He wanted to do what I did. He wanted to follow
Priorities change. Wants and needs change. Was he
If he was, I would
grant him his being-ness. And gracefully let go.
mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
Resigned to their lot
in life, many are unhappy in
their jobs. Was he destined to live a life of
life of quiet desperation?
Was he headed for George
Bailey's alternate life in "It's A
Wonderful Life"? Remember when George was ready to
commit suicide by jumping
off the bridge?
young," I thought. "Maybe he should pursue his
true heart's desire. I started over at 28 when I went professional
school. He's only 28."
"I knew this story a long time ago. I have a
caged bird. I let it go, and should it fly back to me, then it's mine. Otherwise, it
means that I never own it. Today, I set you free and discover you really leave me behind. So I see
what it means."
~ John Lennon, 1965, Norwegian
Was he feeling like a
caged bird? If he did, then in my heart, I've already
set him free.
Tonight at dinner, I was with
the person I once knew and loved; he was upbeat,
His wife shared how happy
working with our clients made her. He nodded in agreement.
I shared with them bits
and pieces of my passion for my work, felt free to share my "Erin Brockovich"
spiel about the controversial procedure,
complete with hard facts, statistics, and solid scientific documentation.
The letdowns of the procedure
is this month's cover
story in our most widely-read professional journal. Irrefutable
evidence of its long-term harmful effects
mount. Lawsuits have started, and the nine of 10 professionals who pushed it
are prime targets.
If our futures are
to be intertwined, I must know who he really is, what makes him
tick, what motivates him, what he truly cares about. For all
whose lives we touch, I
would be remiss if I did not.
For tonight, my worst
fears have not been realized. I saw the person I once knew and
loved. I hope he is back for good.
Perhaps, he is willing
to smooth out this rough patch of road with me. Perhaps, we will not just
be friends, but will share a future together.
I am regrouping, remaining
Thanks, Cia, for helping me to keep the agreements and my heart open.
"Life is a Gift."
P.S. If you
would like to share a portion of yourself with words, in
response to this journal entry, you may do it here.
only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson