Thursday, January 5, 2012

Don't Keep Riding A Dead Horse: Lessons Learned in the Work Force

 Since joining the work force many, many years ago, I have picked up a gem or two along the way by working for so many different bosses. I worked for a Peruvian director who in hindsight was a master at balancing work, family, and play. I worked for an A-list, high-maintenance producer who struggled with balancing work, family, and pursuing his true passion, but amazingly was always genuine. And I now work for a woman who has shown me how grace, intellect, and the willingness to accommodate is a killer combination that I have difficulty grasping. But, perhaps one of my greatest pieces of advice came yesterday from my father who was given this great piece of advice from a woman he works with: Don't Keep Riding A Dead Horse. How many dead horses have I mounted in my personal life? My work life? In my friendships and relationships? In my writing? I could be the dead horse whisperer at this point.

Later that night, I went to see the Pina Bausch film, Pina, where dancers part of her Wuppertal Tanztheatre shared some of the questions and very simple pieces of advice Pina had posed to them over the years, questions and thoughts that gave them the courage to break out of whatever fears, insecurities and doubts that were holding them back.

Questions like:  
Why are you so scared of me? I've never done anything to you.
What are you longing for?

Thoughts like:
You just need to get more crazy.
Dance for love.
Remember, you have to scare me.
Dance, dance, or we are lost.

I left the theatre inspired still chewing on the bit of advice from my dad. Change is scary. Change is messy. And for someone who wants to do everything perfectly, change can be a nightmare. But at some point, you have to push yourself off that cliff, off that horse. In the spirit of these inspirational words, I thought I'd add some of the ones I've heard over the years.

From the Peruvian Director:
Jack of all trades, master of none...At some point, you have to choose. 
Life - is - short.

From the Producer:
Not my duck, not my bottle.
Fear is as real as this table. Fear is as real as you and me and everyday you have to fight it with everything you've got.

From the Educator:
We would always like to accommodate, first.
Sometimes when people are anxious, they behave badly.
Is this something you want to take on? Is this a battle we want to fight?

From the Dad:
Don't keep riding a dead horse.

Time to get off that busted saddle.


Mike said...

Right on. Sometimes its so hard to see though. Whether its b/c we can't or we don't want to. But once that vision is had, there is no turning back. Nice one.

Nick said...

I think this is true for a lot of people. I've apparently have been riding dying horses, as most of the places I've worked for have gone under - none of them my fault.

Having finally found work for a large consumer packaged goods company I thought I was safe. There they had meetings on change and how to deal with it - at this points I think anything I could feel toward change was numbness, and was wondering why people feared changed. Stuff happens, re-group, and move on. Here they taught me to be my own boss to make moves and create the job I wanted to have. This was great until I got a new boss and 6 months under his rule I was sold off to another company for a job that was only 20% of my time (the new company laid everyone off they acquired). I fought it, went over the new boss's head, but at such large companies no one really cares about anyone but themselves.

So I understand 'don't keep riding a dead horse' or a 'dying one'. The hard part is be aware that the job is 'dying' or 'dead' or 'being premeditated for murder'. If anyone can figure that out please let me know.