Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ultra-focus, gradually broadening

For Debby it was cancer that did the job. Illness has a way of doing that.

Lottery winners experience the same phenomenon. So even blessings can do that.

For T.K. Foster and Mike from "If's of Og", two former commenters on this blog... well, we don't know exactly what happened to them.

Diseases, blessings, mysteries -- what common power do they share? All of them can radically change the direction of, and the focus of, our lives.

For over six weeks I've been absent from my blog, and from commenting on the blogs of others, due to my own events that have required focus. It's nothing quite as big as disease or lotteries, though. Simply stated, my job demanded my full attention since late March.

-- In late March, all Directors of my company were brought together by the new company President and asked to develop new business plans. We were in financial crisis.

-- I wasn't actually a Director yet at that point. But I was asked to lead the team in the planning process. I saw it through, and in 30 days we completed a realignment project that would normally take at least 90 days.

-- I was promoted to Director, but at the same time, over one-third of the company was laid off. Including my best friend at the office (James W), who also frequently comments here at the blog.

-- Since the layoff, I've been building a new team and preparing to launch a couple of new company-wide programs. The first is scheduled to go live in one week.

-- In the past week alone, people on my team have experienced the psychotic breakdown of a spouse, a sibling's relapse into drug addiction, an outpatient surgery and the death of a parent. This obviously takes a lot from me as a manager to help them personally, and still somehow makes things work while the employees are absent and project deadlines keep coming closer.

I've never been particularly focused on my career. It's just been something to pay the bills while the majority of my energy -- mental, emotional, physical -- went to other pursuits. For almost two months now I've had to literally rearrange my life to be able to meet the new demands at work.

At first it was overwhelming and I messed up a lot of things. I missed some key family moments. My workouts stopped completely and I got sick (those two are always connected in my health history). I quit writing blogs, reading books, watching movies, playing piano or playing video games.

Now I'm gradually reintroducing those things, one at a time, and figuring out how to define "balance" for myself. It's different every day. It's an exercise of constant adjustment and monitoring.

I don't see any overall good/bad themes emerging from my experiences over the past six weeks -- it's just life. I've gotten a promotion and some of my friends lost their jobs, but who's to say if this is good or bad? Maybe in three months I'll be miserable and they'll land something great! Judging those things is like judging the NFL draft... you can only do it three to five years after it happens.

So in the absence of any ability to discern the master plan, I'm trying to do the things I need to do today, and have fun while doing it.

Because a smart dude once said "each day has enough trouble of its own", and frankly, I've got my hands full with this afternoon's troubles. Tomorrow's are going to have to wait.


Debby said...

Glad you're back, but eeeeeek! what a lot of changes! There is a master plan, and 'He has plans to prosper not harm you'. It will be interesting to watch this all unfold. I have an idea about something, just a hunch about your direction. I'm curious if I'm right. We'll see...

hard.rox said...

Great to see you back, Michael! I figured you were busy at work but from what you described, busy doesn't quite justify what you've been through. Congratulations on your promotion and my only words of advice would be don't let it consume your life. It's just a job. Find a happy balance and stick with it.

Sorry you're not making it to KC. Would have been nice to sit down for a beer or two.

Don said...

Glad you are hanging in there. We have missed you much. First things first. I understand.

~aj~ said...

I hate to hear how stressful things have been for you lately. All you can do is take it one day at a time and keep your priorities in order along the way.

Sending you lots of love and hope you've got a restful weekend ahead of you.

Hal Johnson said...

It's good to hear from you, Michael. I hope things continue to get more sane for you.

Redlefty said...

Thanks, gang! It's amazing that after so long away, you're all posting here just hours after I return.

I also forgot to mention that on top of all this my car is having transmission problems. I've already spent $400 at the car shop and burdened Jamie with driving me to work and back (very long drive in Houston traffic). Tonight on the way home the transmission went out again... and she leaves town for a weekend trip on Friday. Nothing to do now but laugh and eat lots of sugar!

And debby, how can you leave a guy hanging like that? When are you gonna let me in on your insight?! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael
I've missed your blogging!
Congratulations on your promotion! I am sure everything will fall into balance in time. I get the impression that you would be a wonderful, considerate Manager who leads by example. I hope Jamie's pregnancy is going well.
I'll try and remember to pray that your friends find new jobs soon in areas that they find to be really rewarding in every way.

Tit for Tat said...

Ah the joy of life! I love your NFL draft analogy. You have some damn fine wisdom in your words. Thanks for helping take time to pause.

Paula said...


I totally understand the work stuff. I've been uber-focused at work here too and then you add in the 70x7project and sometimes there's just not enough time in the days to get everything done. I'm finally caught up on the 70x7project, but I'm finding a lot of satisfaction in the "doing" of living my life instead of just "saying" I'm going to do something.

MamaRose said...

I, also, MISSED YOUR 'SMART'/DEEP BLOGS!!!!!!!!! SO SORRY to hear that some of your closest fellow employees & their families have had such TROUBLES, lately!!!!!!!!!

THANK GOD your spouse didn't 'go crazy' OR one of YOUR parents DIE!
OR sibling get into DRUG ABUSE!!!!!

SO PROUD OF YOU &/in your NEW, BIG PROMOTION & raise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hopefully, now, it will 'ALL JUST GET EVEN BETTER' at work!!!!!!!!!

And, you'll be able to add back in your work-outs, etc., to 'balance you out'--BALANCE IN OUR LIVES IS ALWAYS A GOOD THING!!!!!!!!!

It's GREAT TO KNOW that you have a LOT of GREAT blogger FRIENDS, here, who not only have MISSED YOU & your blogs, but also have 'COME RIGHT BACK' to commenting here!!!!!

I knew you'd 'be back' when you had the time--TO THINK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hopefully/Lord Willing your most stressful days at work are OVER, for now--sad to say--but, YOUR DAD'S are ONLY BEGINNING--well, continuing, really!!!!! SAY A PRAYER FOR HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hope Jamie & Baby Luke & Sam & Jack are ALL DOING/FEELING WELL!!!!

quid said...

Michael -

I wish you luck at work. What you are doing is never easy.

It was good to see you back here.

Think of it as a place of refuge.


Bob said...

'Damn fine wisdom' -- could not have said it better myself.

So glad to see you back here.

I put two new transmissions in two different mini-vans to the tune of about $1500. A lot of dough, but both times the lump sum was easier than taking on a car payment. Good luck with that.

FishrCutB8 said...

Nice to have you back...

I just picked up John Wooden "On Leadership" and am spending some time with it. Might be worth a glance for a guy who finds himself leading.

You're a good man, Michael--keep your focus and your priorities. Work might not be that, but I suspect the people there are.

Hang tough...

Logan said...

Glad to hear you're alright-hang in there-all will turn out alright!

James said...

I was wondering if you were ever coming back to the blog world. I just want you to know that even though I am not there we will always be great friends!

John Shore said...

Sounds to me like you're doing great. Sounds like your employers are really lucky to have you.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Redlefty, Og here. Thanks for the mention! If I knew what happened to me I would describe it, but I'm still unsure myself. Some say I asked too many questions, but any religion sporting proponents who recommend unquestioning faith is a system begging critical examination.

I like your attitude toward the job, life and everything. All we know for sure is that we have this life as it currently presents itself to us. Why not enjoy what we have been given to the fullest extent we are humanly capable?

Somebody mentioned beer. I gotta go.


Redlefty said...

Mike, holy crap, good to hear from you!

Your wording is brilliant as usual and gave me an excellent idea of what you've been going through.

Glad to see your're staying true to exactly who you're meant to be.


A fellow questioner