I pulled out of the car wash.
My black car was shiny, and I got the extra $3.00 wax to make it just a bit, “extra” shiny.
As I pulled onto the Westside highway, I was feeling good. The sun was shining, the roof was open --- and, it was a glorious fall day in NYC.
A clean, shiny car makes me smile. Especially when it’s my car.
I passed the 57th Street sign on the Westside Highway, which then turns into the Henry Hudson Parkway.
Suddenly, out of nowhere the biggest splat EVER recorded by mankind, hit the front hood of my car. The bird poop was so big, that it splattered across my entire windshield.
A perfect shot for the bird, and -- instant stress for me.
Do I turn around, and go back to the car wash? Do I pull over and try to clean it?
This bird poop was colossal. It was so big it was easily the size of an entire hand, with huge chunks of something dark that did not look good to the naked eye. (In other words, this was no small bird dropping)
I had been hit by the equivalent of a winged animal drone missile, coming from the butt of a big giant Seagull.
My blood pressure rose, and for the rest of the ride home I stared at the hood of my black car – and watch the wet poop, morph into a solid mass --- and petrify right there……splattered dots across my windshield as well, mushed in by the wiper blades -- which made a valiant attempt as they went back and forth – only to have the poop get rubbed across the glass, even more.
“As your new boss, I encourage you to speak your mind, be open and transparent, challenge me – and lets fix what’s broken, and understand better what is working.”
This was my new boss speaking to a room full of his new direct reports, of which I was one of many in the conference room that day.
I was excited to have a new boss. I was excited to hear he wanted open feedback on what we could be doing better as a group, and as a company. I was thrilled to learn something from this new executive coming from a giant Telecommunications company to teach us……and to lead us.
His first day was awesome, filled with good energy – and what seemed like great leadership.
Two weeks later we were in the same conference room, but this time he was dictating some new ideas that he had acquired --- after getting 2 weeks of feedback, opinions, and insight from people in the company. (I was not one of them providing my input)
He started, “We will do this, and focus on that --- and this is how we will market and sell it.”
I knew it was wrong, I knew what he was saying was not going to work. I knew it was a bad idea because I tried it months earlier – and it failed. I knew he was pushing a bad strategy, on his new team – and his new company.
As I raised my hand to speak – I wanted to be sincere, passionate, and diplomatic – as I gently tried to explain that this concept of his, would surely fail. It would fail because I road tested the concept, only to have the customers say, “No.”
All eyes focused on me.
I tried to remember what he said in that same conference room a short 2 weeks ago.
“As your new boss, I encourage you to speak your mind, be open and transparent – and lets fix what’s broken, and understand better what is working.”
I thought he meant it.
Apparently he did not, (mean it) and I was about to learn the valuable lesson called, “Corporate Doublespeak.”
After I was finished speaking (or politely challenging his idea) he thanked me for my feedback, and willingness to stand up and share my opinion.
He promptly shot me down without even acknowledging anything I said --- he moved on to how he was going to execute on the losing strategy that I just challenged him on.
It was Friday afternoon.
I walked out of the conference room, along with the other 20 people who shuffled in a line to escape the room.
I went back to my desk and sat down.
He came in, and calmly sat down in the chair directly in front of my desk.
He smiled, as he spit out the lines, and slowly uttered the following missive:
“If you ever challenge me, or so much as dare to offer a counter opinion to anything I say from here on in, I will kick your ass. I want to be clear about this, you are a piece of sh*t to me, you mean nothing – and I will enjoy watching you squirm in pain, as I knock your teeth out.”
I was in shock. I thought this was a joke.
I smiled nervously, not knowing what to say or do --- with my new middle-aged boss basically threatening me with physical harm.
He got up, smiled and said, “Have a nice weekend.”
I was in shock.
Last week, when I got hit with the bird poop – this story came roaring back to me......
Because that day – when my boss pulled up the chair at my desk and threatened me with a beat down – I got hit with bird poop in a different way.
My new boss hit me with his bird poop – and it splattered across my psyche. The shrapnel of the bird poop delivered by an emotional boss hit my confidence – the same way the bird poop hit the hood of my black car. It momentarily wrecked me, until I allowed myself to fix it......
I went to the car wash on the way home last week. My black car got 2 car washes within an hour.
My new boss made it exactly three months before he got canned. Apparently, the “Corporate Doublespeak” caught up with him.
When I got hit with the bird poop in my car, or a new boss who threatened me, I immediately stressed out on both occassions – and felt my blood pressure rise……but, for what?
I lost control of both situations. In both cases I could not alter, or change, or control what had happened to me. The truth is, I was never in control.
I don't think I ever will be.
I drive a black car. I love Armor All on my tires.
And, extra wax to make it shiny.
It covers up the lack of control. Or, my very own insecurity.