Losing the Battle to Win the War

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I promised myself I would take the high road…

Last week, a mysterious meeting appeared on my calendar that my supervisor had set named “review/meeting”. It struck me as a bit odd since I’ll be leaving my post in a matter of days, but after my initial confusion I knew what it would be all about: The Final Dig. If you’re a consistent reader of my blog you’re well-informed of the challenges I’ve had at work over the past year with my supervisor. I’ve boiled it down to essentially denial on his part that I’m leaving and he didn’t adequately prepare for my exit. In any case, the meeting…

Rant Machine

After getting over a few housekeeping issues, the rant began. My supervisor complained that he had written me a stellar recommendation for school and if I would have read what he wrote I would have thanked him a million times over, but now, he was disappointed in me. When I asked him why, he couldn’t produce a coherent answer. What was supposed to be a performance review turned into him pouring every last dose of haterade on me he could produce. Mind you, I’ve never had issues with a boss. I’ve always gotten along with coworkers and have never once in my life been cited for under performance. Somehow, my (soon-to-be) former supervisor found it necessary to criticize my work in the face of what everyone would consider uncanny success given the non-existent resources I was given to start with.

Flame after flame of nonsense that he tossed at me I responded with, “That’s fine.” I promised myself I would take the high road and walk away without falling into the trap he wanted me to. With each, “That’s fine.” I could see him growing more and more frustrated–it was probably the first time in his career he knew inside he would bear complete responsibility for what was about to happen. The program, that myself and my team had built and he got patted on the back for, got merit raises for and helped him gain the credibility to raise funds for other parts of our office than in all likelihood was going to die, as a result of his own intransigence.

My team paved the road piece by piece and practically laid it on a silver platter for the next in line, but sadly that one e-mail he penned to our program partner perpetrated and unreversable spiral that even I could not curtail in time for my departure.

The sad thing about it

At the end of the day, my trajectory after this job will likely not be impeded. But I can’t help but feel sad that all the kids our department could help will never have the opportunity because hubris and stubbornness got in the way. When I took my job it was because I was honestly passionate about changing the life course of under served teenagers–and I still want to continue the work. But what became so painfully apparent is that after my first year on the job, I came to realize the powers-at-be were more interested in how many times their names ended up in news articles rather than the lives that were affected. I felt used, and I felt like the kids were unknowingly being taken advantage of.

The other remorse that I feel is one that’s even more personal. My supervisor is a man of color. No doubt he’s faced adversity and challenge in his life just because of his skin pigmentation. I respect his struggle as a fellow African-American male. What I think is a shame is that he clearly recognizes another black male trying to make a difference, improve his life and pave the way for others behind him, yet instead of being a leader, my supervisor decided to unload the clip on another who shares a similar struggle.

So now I reflect on the hour-long bullet dodging session I endured today and I’m not sure if I have regrets that I didn’t say anything. Maybe it’s a sign that it was time to move on, or maybe just recognition of the fact that anything I could possibly say wouldn’t make a difference. But maybe, just maybe, but keeping to my internal promise of taking the high road I made one man think about putting down his gun so he can begin to patch up his own self-inflicted wounds and consider what’s really important–losing the battle in order to win the war.

Comments
4 Responses to “Losing the Battle to Win the War”
  1. mbalady says:

    Lazing around the mba blog circuit and saw this. I voted Yes – I believe that you did the right thing.
    Obv, I wasn’t there so I don’t know the details/fully understand the context but based on my experience with people and my perception based on your post.. His behavior is not about you. This person has an internal conflict and you were a medium via which he hoped to pass that negative energy. He failed at this, as you didn’t take the bait.

    Nothing you could have said would have made a positive impact in that moment. It seems as though he was intent on spewing with the hope that you would spew back and then he’d feel better about coming with the negative energy. It doesn’t seem as though he was there for a dialogue or open conversation.. that’s why I don’t think there was a missed opportunity, at least not in that moment.

    Don’t take it personally, as much as it may seem personal. If anything feel empathy for someone who clearly has some turmoil on the inside but his best attempt to resolve it is in bringing negative energy to others, in hopes that they would ‘receive’ it.

    Kudos to you for choosing not to ‘receive’ it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree 100% with MBALady. It wasn’t about you, he was expressing his own dissatisfaction with life.

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