He was a old school General Manager — he smoked too much, definitely enjoyed his scotch, would go toe to toe with anyone over the business, and protected his people with a passion. He was the sort that would have his feet up on his desk when he spoke with you… ever crotchety, ever prickly, and ever insightful; I learned much from him. I remember sitting across from him once lamenting over the dynamic environment we found ourselves in.
“I feel like a cork bobbing in the ocean, I’m not able to grab onto anything, and just moving around at the whim of the ocean. There’s just no control over any of it.” He looked at me and simply said, “Me too”.
Don’t get me wrong we were running a solid business with good leadership, a good team, plans were in place, over plan performance was commonplace, and we had just enough operating mechanisms to ensure we stayed the course (but weren’t repressive). If memory serves me (and it doesn’t always) this was a time when the corporation was starting the journey towards a multi-billion dollar company, and it was a time of more and more “corporate reach in”. There were a growing number of things happening that we just hadn’t seen before — it was a interesting combination of Energy and Angst. It was a time where positive energy and confidence finds itself irrationally dealing with the future and a perceived unknown.
This is something I find also seems to occur at the beginning of each year — you don’t really have to look any further than those New Year’s resolutions or New year’s words people rally behind.
2019 is a year that will have 365 opportunities, and if you are paying attention to the pundits, may also be a year of turmoil (but then again I think they say this every year). All of this energy and opportunity, balanced off (sometimes disproportionately) with events beyond your control is what we have to work with to make the most of the coming year.
I can’t truly say if ever stopped being that cork in the ocean or just got very good at being “a cork” — either way I survived, as well as thrived. Some of it was a result of just going with the flow, some it was finding the proverbial port in a storm, some of it came from knowing what needed to be done when the waters were calm, and sometimes it was simply knowing when to hold on tight. Yes, all very metaphorical but nonetheless helpful. Each year I have had a plan regarding how to handle the year’s ocean; sometimes complex and sometimes simple, but I have always had a plan. And I have always gotten it down on paper. This has always been my anchor.
This year I want to go with the flow, see where things take me, and maybe wash up on some shores I’ve never experienced before — and to ensure I don’t get lost, my plan for 2019 will consist of one word. And that word is desire. It will be interesting to see where it takes me.
A friend of mine mentioned his word for 2019 is deliverance — I’m sensing my seas will be much calmer.