I came home from dinner on Friday night (three cheers for the Penguin!) and checked my work email on my Blackberry… And there was a message from my boss, replying to an email I sent her earlier in the day, with no text. It just had a file attachment, with no remarks, explanation, or commentary.

I knew I was in for it, and quickly left some friends playing Wii Sports in the living room while I rushed to my “home office” to login and look at it more closely.

Sure enough, it’s a redone version of a PowerPoint presentation that I had sent her that afternoon. I KNEW that what I was sending her wasn’t what she was looking for, and I even said so in my email, but it was the best I could put together without more direction.

The reason? She described what she wanted it to look like in a phone conversation the night before.  

If you’ve never experienced this frustrating phenomenon with me, I’ll explain. For some reason, I just CANNOT visualize things that are described to me. When friends read a book and then go see the movie, and complain that the character didn’t look anything like what the book described, I just look at them blankly. I NEVER get a mental image of something from having it described — not in print, and not in words. I just cannot put the words together and form a picture in my mind of the outcome.  

Just. Doesn’t. Work.

Sal has gotten frustrated with me before because he will spend several minutes painstakingly describing something complex to me, so I’ll understand what he’s picturing in his mind… and I can nod my head and give “Mmm hmm” reassurances until I’m blue in the face, but eventually I have to admit that I have no idea what he’s talking about. I swear I’m broken.

So yeah, after seeing the CORRECT vision for what my boss was trying to describe the night before, I was horribly embarrassed. The thing about working for a boss you really like and respect is, you are motivated by a desire to make him/her proud. You don’t bust your tail because you don’t want to get in trouble, or because you want to avoid being fired, or because you’re trying to get a good performance review and a raise. (Well, those are all motivations certainly… but not the PRIMARY one)  

No, when you really enjoy working with your boss and respect him/her, you work hard every day to prove that he or she was right to hire you, and that you’re a valuable member of the team, and that you’ve earned the right to continue calling him/her your boss. It’s like when your parent used to pull the, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” card, and you’d rather they were just MAD so you could fight back. When they’re disappointed, it’s worse — because you know you’ve let them down, and you don’t have anything to say for yourself other than that you’re sorry.

There are times I’m very disappointed in myself. And the best I can say is, I’m sorry and I’ll try to do better. Last night was one of those times.

2 Responses to Disappointments

  1. Don’t feel bad, buddy. I have a similar problem; I have difficulty perceiving things as separate from their context. Like if I run into somebody I’ve only seen once I’m unlikely to remember them unless they’re wearing the same clothes and/or in the same place as the first time. Or if I learn a something, I’ll often fail to apply it in a new situation. It’s hard to explain to your boss when you didn’t do something she’d already explained to you because it’s a new project and it didn’t occur to you to apply the rule to a new context.

  2. melanie says:

    I am right there with you. I can visualize really well, but sometimes whether it’s not exactly what your boss wants or you unintentionally attach the wrong email, whatever it is you just want to go and bury your head and click your heels together three times in a row and chant there’s no place like oz, there’s no place like oz, there’s no place like oz. 🙂

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