Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

power structures

I used to hate being an employee. I have felt the fury of a direct verbal assault by a superior more than once in my life. I have had the job reviews in which each raise or promotion was accompanied by expressions like "you're bright and talented enough, but we wonder why we keep you on in light of your many shortcomings". I have felt the smooth, sharp stilleto of an office politics "assasination", slid earnestly into the back, leaving me bleeding (though, interestingly, always suffering, yet never, sadly, quite politically dead). I have survived a palace coup or two, and even developed some facility with the dark arts of subtle defense in my own right.

I've sat through "team meetings", in which the "team" is constructed for the primary purpose of emphasizing how some few in the team are to be exalted, "in control", and largely at relative leisure, while others are to do the real work. I am not by personality a cog on someone else's team. I want to be a contributor in my own right.

But far worse than being an employee is being a boss. When I was a youngish lawyer, I was considered a fun boss. But as the pressures in my life to "succeed" increased, so, too, did my patience and good humour decrease. I am one of those people who is very task-driven. I had very little patience for subordinates who did not take their work seriously. I always thought that finding another profession, not slacking through the law-related professions, was the best way for one to deal with job malaise. As a result, I was a very demanding boss. I tended to insist that things be done, and get frustrated with people who could not stay "on task", particularly as a deadline loomed.

I really disliked being a boss. I do not like to hold authority over other people; more accurately stated, the part of me that does like to hold authority over other people is a part of me I deeply despise.

When we moved to Texas, I resolved that I would never be a traditionally demanding boss again. I by-passed potentially more lucrative avenues so that I would not be an employee. Now, as a boss, I tend to avoid putting any pressure on anyone to get anything accomplished. I assume that I must be the motive force in getting anything done. There's a kind of harmony to this, because under the "rules" applicable to such things, I'm the only truly responsible party when it comes to official deadlines and the like anyway.

I must admit that the sheer stress reduction of being neither a boss nor an employee really has lowered my stress levels measurably.
Even times like now, when I am under a lot of work stress due to sheer workload and deadlines, I feel much less "stretched" by the dual "rings of power"--authority and servility. I am sad to admit that I get somewhat less productivity from those who work with me than I expected in hard-driving days. But it's no fun being Machiavelli--give me Gandhi any day.
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