Thursday, September 29, 2011

Calling in a Contract

When I was able to work, I did a lot of retail management. By many accounts I was extremely successful at what I did. I quickly ascended to overseeing multiple stores at the same time, and assembled some of the best people to work for, and with me.

The common assumption that was made was that I was not actually comfortable unless I was in a leadership position. That was actually not true. The truth be told, I always preferred being the strong second to someone (think Alexander Godunov's Karl to Alan Rickman's Hans in Die Hard). However, I loathed incompetent leadership, and in my view, if the leadership was going to act irresponsibly and in a reckless fashion, then I might as well take over because the right-hand-man is usually the one in charge of keeping the eye on the target and navigating towards it.

So I took over one store, which lead to taking over another store, which lead to overseeing other stores, and became known as a “District Hitman.” The short and sweet job summary of hitman boiled down to: if I showed up at your store, someone (probably you) was about to get fired. I was good at what I did (if you don't believe me, ask around).

Incompetent store managers were replaced by either myself, by someone I trained, or by both. District Managers, Regional Managers, and a few executives sought my advice. I was in a good position, well respected, and even feared to a certain extent.

My immediate supervisors openly told me that I made them nervous because they never knew when I was going to replace them. What my bosses failed to grasp was that I would have only taken their job if they weren't doing it properly.

Which brings me to the world today. The great experiment in Democracy has failed. I don't know exactly when or where it skidded of the tracks, but it has skidded of the tracks and we are plummeting into the ravine. I think, although I cannot prove this, that a majority of the people in this country agree with this assessment, but yet nothing is being done.

Since our leadership has failed, and continues to act in an irresponsible and reckless fashion, and since nobody else seems to be willing or able to step forward and say or do anything about the level of corruption, the degree of incompetence, or atmosphere of hopelessness/helplessness, then I will stand up on my one good leg, lean on my cane, and fight this storm.

In my experience, the best way to re-build is to start from scratch. A case in point: there was one store that I walked into once and systematically fired everyone that worked there (with the exception of one worker who was actually doing the job). The same thing needs to happen, and happen now (actually it needed to happen years ago) with our government. It is past time to rip everything down to the studs, and to begin rebuilding with the knowledge we have acquired from our mistakes.

Another thing that I have learned is that I could not do everything on my own. While I was doing what I did for the companies that I worked for, I always made sure to surround myself with similar minded individuals. I never brought on a “warm body” to fill a spot on my staff, I always hired the right person for what was needed for whatever particular location I was working at. Some of them I got along with; others I didn't, but that didn't really matter because they were capable of getting the task at hand done – which is exactly what we need now.

I am looking for people who agree with me AND who disagree with me. I am looking for leaders AND followers. WE know what the problem is. WE know where the problem is. What WE need to do now is set aside whatever petty differences that we have (religion, sexuality, Left/Right wing, dog or cat person), and focus on the similarity that we do have: We are all in this boat together and the boat is sailing towards an iceberg. Help me steer the boat.