Thursday, April 14, 2011

Things Change in a Year

No matter how much we stomp our feet and scream, "I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid," we can't fight it. Growing up will happen. It's a necessary evil. Most times it happens without us knowing it. We wake up one day and realize this change has taken place. Hopefully not so much so that we keep our inner child locked away and become curmudgeons, but enough to help us adapt to the adult world around us and excel.

I'll be the first to tell you that I strive, and sometimes, struggle to maintain this balancing act. I'll work on developing myself as a professional and interact with CEOs of startup companies around the world all morning and spend the afternoon shooting the heads off zombies with a shotgun on the Xbox. I'll laugh and joke with my friends and then put on my "game face" when I hit the classroom and face my students. Even in the classroom, at times, I let my guard down and have just a hair more fun than I rightfully should with students. Balance is such a key facet to life.

There were a couple of instances, recently, that caused me to realize that this natural self-evolution has been happening over the last year. Last November I was given a promotion, of sorts. No more pay, no change in rank, but a positional raise. Rather than being a regular instructor, I was also made an "Instructor Supervisor" or IS. This means that in addition to teaching, I'm responsible for running the shift, which is comprised of roughly 110 students and 20 staff/faculty. This position is, by and large, reserved for people 1-2 pay grades above me and further seasoned by about 4-5 years.

Naturally, assuming this role was aggravating to me peers who felt that if I could do it, they should be able to as well. First of all, everyone can't lead. That's the point of being a leader - one person does it (or a small percentage, anyway). If everyone is leading, then nobody is leading. Secondly, not everyone is cut out for it in their nature. Lastly, the loudest complainers didn't even want my job. They just didn't want me to have it because they felt I snuck my way in. Yes, it was a private conversation between the big bosses and me. I was approached about it and agreed pretty much. I did nothing to sneakily secure this spot for myself. Frankly, I don't have the energy to be manipulative. It takes lots of time and I have enough to keep me busy.

One of my detractors actually asked me about it and I explained my position and particular methods/styles of leadership/management. Although he appeared satisfied by my answer, that I neither micromanage nor rule with an iron fist, it was lip service. He ran to MY boss, complaining about me and my qualifications; effectively questioning her judgment for selecting me. His line of reasoning was that when we last worked together, an entire year prior, I was not this motivated. I'd leave early if not busy. I'd joke around. I'd do the bare minimum. I was different. You're damn right I was. It was a year ago. Truth be told, there was truth to everything he said, albeit to much smaller levels than he claimed.

That was her response as well. Something to the effect of - first, I don't care what went on then. That was then, this is now. Is it possible he changed or grew up in a year? He's older, he's been through a divorce. Maybe his approach and/or goals have changed. Is that possible? He agreed it was possible.

Somewhere along the way, leadership decided to bring an IS to nights as a full time position so I could teach a larger class load. I'd enjoyed doing both but was insanely busy on a daily basis.

Last week or so, it reared its head again, however. It was, apparently, time for a practical joke at work with students. It was on a topic that we had been joking about amongst ourselves. So he stages his joke and involves the students. He did it in such a way that it s entirely disruptive. It created confusion and congestion in our halls. The students he involved are known for being unprofessional in their attitudes. This all took place on an evening that the full-time IS was home ill.

On a break he comments about his joke and asks me what I think. I replied that I wasn't amused. He doesn't understand how some things are funny to some people and others are not. The conversation ties up angrily as he calls me hypocritical for laughing about it amongst ourselves but not with students. I told him that the environment plays a part. He makes a face and that was, presumably, that.

I was mistaken. In my absence, he took up the cause of attempting to align others with him to garner support for his joke, which was truthfully not funny under any circumstances - I was annoyed it involved students, but it was really just a lame joke in the first place. As part of his recruitment pitch, he references a practical joke I played once and, again, mentions my hypocrisy. There a 2 defining differences. My joke was random where his was about a topic that had everyone already stressed, worried and upset - some things you just don't joke about with subordinates. The other difference was that mine was a year ago.

And now we are back to the fact that people change, or at least they should. Apparently, he has not. If that works for him, that's fantastic. But he holds others in lower esteem for being progressive with their lives. I did nothing in particular to mature a year's worth - I just lived another year. Other people specifically fight the natural personal evolution. As it turns out, these folks are left alone; and the must be exhausted trying to maintain in the process. I know one thing is for sure - people like that are the exception, not the rule and while being a child was carefree and fun, being an adult is full of opportunity that these people will miss out on, both personally and professionally.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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