I love making encouragement cards using my Papertrey Ink sentiment stamp set that has inspiring scriptures. This one is quite pretty as a clean and simple card using Papertrey inks butterfly stamp. These are great cards to just 'have around' because sometimes you just have an occasion to send one. This is a great sympathy card and a good get well soon card. I usually find I need one of these on a weekday and don't have time to make one from scratch. A great reason to build up card inventory when the time allows.
So besides sharing this pretty card creation I thought I would tell you about a situation that happened late this summer that I'm calling 'the big mad.' At first I called it 'the big fight' but I realized that's not the right title. It really was just a situation where I got really, really mad. The set up for 'the big mad' is probably easily reproducible. If I wanted to share a recipe for a 'big mad' these ingredients would be great to ensure a really, really big mad.
2) Feelings of under-appreciation
So for my 'big mad' I started with a very healthy dose of exhausted. The day of my 'big mad' started with me going to bed at midnight and waking up at 4am. Why so little sleep? Well, I had just arrived in Munich Germany and had a very challenging work agenda. So between jetlag, sleeping in a strange bed and having a lot of work issues on my mind - a full nights sleep wasn't really an option.
Ingredient 1 - Not enough sleep.
So the other thing I added to get a great exhaustion going (think ragu - a base ingredient that requires several steps to make) was a 13 hour work day. I had woken at 4am that day and immediately started working. Now you may say 'Linda - that's just stupid - why would you start working at 4am?' Well, you are right, however, at 4am German time, it was 8pm California time where my boss was and he was shooting off critical e-mails to me. Also, I had lost my cell phone so my only connection to home and family and people I care about - was through my work computer - so I naturally logged in and couldn't help but open my work e-mail while it was open. And lastly, I had some pre-work to do to prepare for the 8:30 am training start. Now here again, you are probably saying - 'why would you procrastinate doing training prep until the day of training?' Here is why. They had a 'code drop' the day before. A code drop means they 'fixed some of the existing bugs' so to ensure a more successful training it was way better for the learners to have 'fresh' practice deals in the system without bugs so as a courtesy to them I wanted to recreate their practice exercises with the new code drop. Did I have to do that - no - but these learners are people I've known for years and I care about them and I want their learning environment to be the best it can be. So I started working at 4:00am. I worked from 4am-7:00am, then took a break from 7-8 to eat breakfast and shower and then down to training at 8:15. Training from 8:30-5:00, then working on my bosses new 'hot topic' from 5-6:15, dinner from 6:30-8:00 and then working again from 8-9:30. Note - the BIG MAD happened around 10:00pm.
Ingredient 2 - a 14 hour work day that was not over yet.
Again, you may say 'why after a 13 hour work day would you come back from dinner and work AGAIN?' In hindsight - I never should have booted up my laptop, but again let me explain my motivation. My boss had sent me an e-mail that I read at 4am. I worked on his new 'hot issue' with the manager of the EU quote center from 5-6:15pm and frankly I felt if I didn't write up the results of the discussion with the EU manager the next day I would forget. Keep in mind I still had another training day the next morning (at 8:30) and again, I had some prep to do when I returned from dinner and thought I'll send my boss the e-mail, finish up some training prep and THEN be able to sleep like a baby and be ready for the next days training. And just to be clear on the bosses 'hot topic' I was feeling very prideful about this. You see I understood the issue better than anyone else on the team and I was going to be able to get to the bottom of the issue and hash it out with the EU team and be a HERO to the entire team. Now again, don't judge me too harshly. Yes, there was a lot of arrogance and pride going on there, but my motivations really were sound. You see to 'fix' the issue the way my boss originally thought it had to be done would have meant a weeks worth of overtime for the tech team (4 great guys and gals who I care about deeply.) It would have meant they worked really, really hard on something that in mind, didn't need to be done. They would have been asked to work weekends, the project go-live date may have had to be pushed out and it would have added a lot of work to the entire team. And I had (after my discussion with the EU team) clarified that the issue wasn't that big an issue and did not need to be solved the way my boss originally thought. Are you seeing the potential for a BIG MAD here? You should.
So ingredient 3 - a very healthy dose of arrogance and pride. I can fix this. I can save the team. I can save the project. Dun dun done! Linda the hero. Linda to the rescue! Applause. Praise. Promotion. Bonus!
So Linda the Martyr, Linda the hero, spent 45 minutes drafting a very excellent e-mail explaining to the entire team, the issue, my recommendation for the solution and the results of my discussion with the EU manager. I hit send and then proceeded to work on my 'other work' to prepare for training. Imagine my surprise when my boss replies (quite quickly I might add) with a whole bunch of questions and additional action items on my brilliant solution. I read things like 'this is interesting but, what about X, and what about Y... how will this work in NA? Did EU agree this change will be the best solution? And then the true 'straw that broke the camels back' statement - please reach out to the Asia and Japan teams and do the same analysis with them tonight. EU and AP/GC overlap timezones, so please set up phone calls with them tonight or early morning to review this proposal with them, get their buy in and oh by the way, please clarify my concerns ASAP.
So ingredient 4 - a request for a whole lot of additional work to be done by me in the next 24 hours when I have no free time what-so-ever to do anything except prepare for and conduct training for 10 users.
Can you guess what those 4 ingredients made? If you guessed a big mad flambe - you are right.
I was LIVID. I was FURIOUS. I was EXHAUSTED. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I was shaking I was so frustrated and tired and exhausted. So I replied back via e-mail (reply all - 4 team members and dripping with sarcasm) NO. I am not contacting Asia. No. I am not contacting Japan. No. I am not justifying my excellent idea. I am going to bed and I'm going to conduct training tomorrow. And I wanted to also state 'Do Not Ask Me to help with this issue again. Ever.' But I didn't. I wisely just said 'no' turned off my computer, took a shower and tried to sleep. As you can imagine I did not 'sleep like a baby' like I originally hoped, but slept enough.
The next day I saw some of the e-mails from the team. One of my team-mates actually thanked me for pushing back on the workload. The project has caused all of us to work a lot and he too was feeling the strain. My boss came back with something like 'um after I read this a little further, I can see why you felt that request was over the top - sorry.' That helped a little, but the next morning I was still really, really mad. I told my fellow training partner - 'he's lucky I showed up for work today' 'What would he have done if I just 'called in sick.'' This was especially relevant since on this training day my partner was only there till 10:00am since she had to take a flight back to the US for a family thing (this was on Thursday and just prior to Labor Day Weekend.) If I had 'not shown up' - training would not have happened. Now let me be clear folks. I would NEVER have called in sick for work in a situation like this. But the thought did cross my mind, only in the most prideful way. What would my boss do without ME!
Can you believe that I stayed mad for over 2 weeks? All the built up frustrations on the project piled on. All the areas where I had disagreed with the team piled on. All the feelings of under appreciation piled on. And the jet lagged was still there and I was resenting the fact that for the summer, I had been away working my butt off for 4 of the 8 best weeks of summer. Yup. I held onto that 'big mad' for a good long time.
My boss was actually great. He said in an e-mail on Friday - 'let's talk next week.' Monday was the holiday and Tuesday he met with me and let me vent on quite a few of the things I was frustrated about. He listened. He apologized. And yet, I held onto that mad for another whole week. The jet lag was still with me and the pride was still bubbling over.
Thankfully I asked my church friends to pray for me. I also starting to put things in perspective. I am not the first person in the world to be over-worked and under-appreciated. And I got back into reading my bible devotions and doing yoga. When I stopped the frantic work pace and started eating healthier, being more active and counting my blessings, thankfully the big mad just slowly started to dissolve away.
Now it's just a story I can blog about and hopefully, if I'm emotionally mature, I can learn from this and be sure to never let those ingredients pile up in a day so the recipe creates the desired results.
Oh and for the record (sorry - this probably still reeks of stinkin pride) the 'hot issue' is being resolved with a very simplistic solution and NOT the big 'weeks and weeks of tech team work' my boss originally thought was needed. So my bid mad and extra work was not for naught. It did ultimately result in a solution that works for all, but if I had to do it over again, I would do it very differently. I hate being 'really, really mad!'
So how about you? Have you ever had a 'big mad?' What helped you get out of the funk? What do you do to make sure you don't find the ingredients all coming together to make it?