to change your life: start immediately; do it flamboyantly; no exceptions

Almost a month ago, I had dinner on a cold, snowy night with a very dear old friend (r1). Through the course of the evening, over a surprising meal (roasted meats and wine that, while not fine, was good enough to enjoy in quantity), we talked nonstop. Reminisced a bit, though for varying reasons that's becoming less and less frequent as we go on. Compared notes, planned some, entertained...and mostly just held forth. Opined. Rambled.

At one point, he talked about the importance of taking charge of one's career. He explained that it can be very easy to just let it meander on without actually setting goals and limits and having a clear focus. I don't think he was being particularly demonstrative about his own past experiences, but rather indicating what he thinks I should do in my own immediate future.

He's like that sometimes.

It reminded me of a conversation that I had with my friend (R2), the guy who drove the truck when I made my "big move" (all the furniture and most of the boxes) a few weeks ago. In various vehicles together for most of the day, we had all kinds of time to chat about everything under the sun. One thing that we covered was the job situation.

R2 wants to be a good boss, and he sort of agonizes about it. He wants to be, as he phrased it at the time (and he was, at the time, a little over-caffeined and struggling to get the words out): a "rock star boss."

I just about leapt out of my seat when he said that. Oooh! YES! The best way to be that kind of boss is to make the best out of your employees--because a rock star boss makes rock star employees. Allowing, and encouraging, them to do what they do best, and by whittling away at the stuff that eats at their efficiency and happiness and strength.

R2 and I were incredibly gratified to feel so connected by our shared understanding of that idea. I explained that I had come to know it because my best boss ever (surely the best boss ever) was absolutely a rock star boss. He hired me for an entry-level position, and within a year I was the office manager, in charge of two things: the minute details of the every-day running of the business (making sure there were pens in every cup next to every phone) and also the biggest details (making sure there were teachers hired and classrooms reserved for the courses for which we'd enrolled dozens of students each term). At the same time, my colleague was relieved from those details and thrust only into the area in which he excelled: sales. He could sell ice to a penguin. And I couldn't sell a thing (I felt guilty!) and so I was relieved from that and turned instead into the areas at which I excelled. It was the perfect solution to what had, previously, been an unending conflict.

Rock. Star. Boss.

That was when I realized, it's possible to become great at something, even if it's not the thing one has always wanted. Or thought that one wanted. Up until I had that job, the only things I'd really wanted to be were these: photographer, or writer. "Office manager" hardly falls into one of those categories. But I was amazing at that job, and I loved it, and if external forces hadn't affected the place and the people the way that they did, I'd still be there, and still be amazingly happy.

I'm not kidding--I loved that job.

What made me great at it? Was it Andy, and his influence? Or was it his ability to see the fledgling office manager within? Or his patience? Or my hard-fought, emerging maturity?

Maybe it's about finding what you love in what you're doing--purely by accident. Having enough maturity to swallow your pride and give something a chance. What if you do love it? Or like it enough to do it for a while, until what you do love comes along? Maybe it's about giving it a try, and in the meantime making some friends and "networking" (a loathsome word, but useful), meeting the right people, and making your own luck?

Maybe it's about eventually learning to "love the one you're with," at least long enough to hold you over until your true love is available.

I'm at a point of decision right now, so this post is more timely than it was even at the time that I originally sketched it out. I'm thinking something over, rolling over terms like "comfort zone" and "raise" and "affinity with numbers" almost obsessively. Wishing I had a crystal ball.

[the title quotation is by William James]

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