When opening my Twitter account, this was the first tweet I read:
“Anybody can get a job. It takes a man to make it without working.”
– Charles Bukowski
These words sounded dated, and well, they are also a ‘macho bravado’, as if only men can do it. I guess these days there are many more people – men and women – unemployed against their will, than Bukowski could ever think of. And many are not ‘man’ enough to make it without working.
What I was thinking of was the conversation I had last Saturday at a party with someone who had lost his job.
We joined friends to bid farewell to a couple who is moving to Australia. I met former colleagues from a company I used to work for some years ago. One of them was visibly distraught sharing the latest news of having lost his job, less than one month ago. It was his first time. He knew only of successes and had never tasted the bitter news of being fired. I knew the taste, and for that he wanted to talk to me for advice. He just couldn’t accept the fact that bad news had been given to him in a two minutes conversation, neither there was good reasoning to fire him, as he had grown the business 30% in the current year, and had got the best employee satisfaction levels from the company survey. It was a simple personal choice from a new manager, who didn’t want to have him in his new team.
I have never written about my experience because it happened a long time ago, much before I started blogging. I have written a post about the subject when friends had been through the same last year. What makes me write about this subject is the recurrence of known behaviors in these situations.
I know both men. The one who took the decision had reported to me for a few months in the past. I know him well enough to say that he is that kind of person who abuses power if the opportunity arises. He behaves exactly as the CEO of that same company once told me: ‘What is most dangerous is not giving power to someone with great intelligence, but to those weak and ignorant, as they will be capable of greater harm.”
Let me tell you another story. I was watching a silly TV program called The Voice UK. In the jury some internationally famous artists like will.i.am, Tom Jones, Ricky Wilson and Rita Ora. There was a blind audition, and all jury members rejected a 16-year-old boy, as well as an older contestant. When they revealed themselves, all jury members apparently regretted their decisions. What drew my attention was their reasoning: “I am sorry I didn’t choose you, because the music you chose is not my style of music.” And to the boy: ” Had I known you were just a boy, I had chosen you”.
If you bring these two stories together, you will find a similarity: the reasoning behind decisions taken by people, chosen for their expert skills and ability to judge with objectivity and rationality. Silly enough, from a professional musician in a TV program to a leader of a business, they all seem to take decisions based on their preferences rather than on meritocracy.
These are not two random cases of badly handled decision-making. Sadly, this is more common than most people can imagine. Even sadder is to confirm that because these people ‘like’ to have people like them in their teams, they perpetuate their species and this kind of behavior keeps happening.
To those who once have been evaluated by powerful and poor decision makers, let me say what I learnt from my own experience: do not take these people seriously, nor personally, and above all never doubt your self-worth.
We all go through situations outside our control and meet heartless and incompetent people, who try to make us feel impotent, disrespected, worthless, powerless and humiliated.
We may bend for a while but we will not break. At the end of the tunnel there is always light. Our light! And it is up to us to keep shining and believing in ourselves, and on our capacity to create new paths, start again and succeed.