“I’m just calling to tell you that you’ve got the job”
The female voice on the other end of the line waited for the exhalation of joy. She didn’t wait long.
The recipient could barely contain himself. “I did? Awesome!”
Awesome? Kids use that word, not grown men. “I mean, that’s great. Amazing.”
She laughed. “Yes, I did a blind evaluation of the submissions, by asking my assistant to number them without telling me who submit what. I didn’t want to inadvertently favour anyone. Yours was definitely the one that stood out.”
He nodded, momentarily unaware that she couldn’t see his body language. Then he shook his head with a smile. “I see.”
“Right” she said. “I mean, I recognized some of the ideas you proposed as coming from you. Still – you seemed to have the best grasp of what’s needed for the position.”
He was never any good at accepting praise. Getting the job and the additional praise was almost too much to handle.
“Well thank you. I appreciate this…..all of it. I can’t wait to start.”
Enthusiasm. That’s what the voice was waiting for.
“Great! So you’ll start in two weeks time. Does that work for you? I mean I spoke with your current boss, and that’s the date he wanted. Give you time to hand off your duties to a subordinate.”
“It works for me. And thanks again!” He grinned, as they ended the call.
It was a promotion. He was no longer a supervisor; he was now a manager. In the large bureaucracy, this was a significant step up. What’s more – it was a brand new position, and as such there were no employees in his group. Just him. He was, effectively, a manager of new ideas for the Information Technology organization. Basically, he was in charge of accepting new ideas, and then linking the right groups together to work on them. With the downturn in the economy, many organizations needed to find ways to automate their work, so that they could provide more service while using less capital. He was tasked with making that happen.
The great news kept him smiling – right up until the flow of work came in. In his excitement, he had forgotten about the historical effects of his ADD.
One by one, the ideas sauntered in, on unobtrusive cat’s paws, sniffing around the room, checking underneath the cupboards, and then settling at his feet, meowing plaintively for attention and food. It wasn’t long until opportunity’s door opened wider, and suddenly there was a flood of ideas, each clamouring for attention.
His ADD mind struggled with the competing thoughts. Almost all of the ideas were bright and shiny and deserving of attention. He could feel his neck tightening in anticipation of the work involved in vetting them all. His boss pointed out one major one and merely added to the weight.
The weekend showed up at his door, hands in its pockets, and he sighed with relief. At his home on Friday night, he battled the tension; he breathed out and tried to fill his chest with air. The cascade of ideas was still there, waiting patiently for Monday morning. Some of the ideas even tried to sneak into his mind while he was trying to enjoy the time off. He slammed the door on them each time. Monday would come soon enough. This was the weekend, and he adamantly refused to deal with any of them.
Monday morning blew the trumpet directly in his ear. He thought he recognized the tune: “March of the Bureaucrats”. He sat at his desk, tired, grumpy and a little frightened. The now hordes of thoughts crowded his feet, all meowing; a triumphant caterwaul of noise. He thought of a caption for his Facebook page: The orderly garden of the mind suffers violence when the cats of creative invention come to play.
Certain that he was going mad, he closed his eyes, there at the desk. Then, he breathed in. Then out. Then in again. Then out. He kept this up, each time concentrating on his breath, and working to increase the length of time each inhale and exhale took. It was a meditation technique taught to him months ago by someone he loved. He knew it would work. It had to.
He felt the tension leave his neck and shoulders. The idea-felines were still crowding him, but their incessant roar had mellowed somewhat. He opened up a new document and started typing some of them in. He noticed that as each idea made it to the page, the roar lessened, just a bit. And so the day progressed.
His boss spoke with him later in the day. When she told him of one of her suggestions – that at some point he might want to get into project management – he felt the tension return. This time he confronted it.
“I don’t tell this to many people” he said. “But you need to know.”
“What’s that?” she said.
He knew that there was always the possibility that what he would tell her would rattle her. He had already figured out that the worst thing that could happen would be that he got bumped back to his old position. And he knew that this wasn’t a bad thing. Not at al.
“I’ve recently been diagnosed as having ADD”, he began.
“Oh really? ” she asked. “I guess it must have been a surprise, finding that out as an adult”
“Yes” he said. “It did explain a heck of a lot though. I always wondered why so many people were able to do seemingly simple things while I struggled.” He paused, thinking. “Anyway, when you grow up with it, you just learn to cope, and to find workarounds to handle all of the millions of thoughts that compete for attention. So projects and project management has never been my strong suit at all. ” He laughed. “I guess I’m just not a fan.”
She laughed too. Music to his ears. “Well, I don’t know if I can help you do what you need to do, but maybe we can meet often, at a scheduled time, or whenever you need to meet.”
He felt relief. “That would be great. Actually, I have access to your calendar so for now, maybe I’ll just schedule myself in whenever the time is right.”
“Sounds good to me” she said.
It sounded good to him too. And after exchanging a few more administrative details, they ended the call.
There was lots of work to do, and he knew his ADD mind wanted it all done right now. He had to remind himself that it was only day two of his assignment.
He walked out of the offices that day, much lighter than when he walked in.
For a Monday – it wasn’t too bad at all.