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Controlling the Narrative | #52
The day I quietly quit
Hey everyone 👋. I'm John. Welcome to Creators' Corner: a place where I share advice on creative experiments & expanding your skillset. Here's the previous edition of the newsletter if you missed it.
“This is not good enough.” Five short words that would become etched into my memory…
In my last job, I learned a valuable lesson about company politics.
My manager and I were responsible for the projected financials of our core product.
The accounting team was responsible for providing the data for said projections.
The projections were useful for the Exco to make decisions (marketing, reporting, sales, you know… business stuff). My manager and I were pretty confident with our work and the statistical models we built.
The project was moving along nicely. Every month the actual numbers matched the expected numbers… until they didn’t.
That’s when things got interesting.
The accounting manager emailed us. He had called an emergency meeting with our CEO. Also, by the way, could we explain the difference in the actual versus expected results?
We worked late that night to understand the discrepancies. All things pointed towards incorrect input data and a few extra, miscellaneous, expenses we weren’t aware of. So we were relaxed, confident even. We could point out where the issues stemmed from.
The next day at the meeting things took a turn for the worse. The CEO was upset. Understandably so. He had to explain the hole in the projections to the board.
I remember him repeating “Listen, gents, this is not good enough”.
My manager and I just sat there and took it.
We pointed out where the mismatch came from. We were confident reason would prevail.
But the accounting manager had been cunning. He pinned it back to us. These expenses happened annually, how did we not know about it? This was odd. Something was fishy. We offered to check previous communication between the teams, but it proved unnecessary.
The CEO had made up his mind. He wanted (needed) someone to blame.
The accounting manager had sneakily manoeuvred his team out of the firing line. Which meant my manager and I turned into the fall guys.
That was the day I quit mentally.
“Not good enough”... yeah right. I had been one of the hardest workers in the team. I consistently pitched up with ideas and energy. This meeting and the repercussions from it felt like a betrayal. Why work into the early morning hours most days only to get thrown under the bus when they needed a scapegoat?
I learned an important lesson that day. From then on, I would control the narrative.
I wouldn’t just sit there and hope for the best. In future, I would stand up for what’s right and not assume everyone would play fair. Especially in highly charged settings e.g. where people’s promotions and bonuses were on the line.
Looking back, I’m happy I went through that experience.
It paved the way for me to quit (out loud) a few months later and embark on my writing and solopreneur journey. Something I may never have done if I was treated fairly.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
–Invictus by Williams Earnst Henley
I haven’t done one of these in a while. Here are some of the things I’ve enjoyed reading and doing over the last few weeks.
✍️ Essay: Elegant Violence by. A refreshing, thoughtful approach to the taboo subject of violence. I love reading personal stories. Thanks, Latham, for motivating me to share more of my own stories (like the one above). Quote:
“Instead of finding pride in self-discipline, confidence in perspective, and the joy of being needed, young boys are ashamed of the impulses within themselves. They should be learning perspective, what’s worth fighting for, and how to harden themselves as an instrument for a worthy cause.”
📚 Book: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I finished this book a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it so much that it snuck into my Top 30 reading list. I would summarize it as a unified theory on mindfulness and transcending the ego. It reminded me a lot about Sam Harris's teachings and it provided good validation for my journey with meditation and seeking a deeper spiritual connection with life. Worth a read.
💬 Quote: a little taste of the book. One of the better analogies I’ve seen to describe consciousness.
“There is the dream, and there is the dreamer of the dream. The dream is a short-lived play of forms. It is the world – relatively real but not absolutely real. Then there is the dreamer, the absolute reality in which the forms come and go. The dreamer is not the person. The person is part of the dream. The dreamer is the substratum in which the dream appears, that which makes the dream possible. It is the absolute behind the relative, the timeless behind time, the consciousness in and behind form. The dreamer is consciousness itself – who you are.” – Eckhart Tolle
🐦 Twitter challenge. Here are my three favourite threads I posted over the last month: 1. In memory of my grandmother who would've turned 100 in June. 2. 10 lessons from Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield. 3. Imitate, then innovate – how I find inspiration from other artists to come up with sketches. Bonus: here’s the master list of all the threads I posted during the Twitter Challenge.
📸 Photo of the week: The 12th hole at Hohenpähl Golf Club. It was good to get out there again (and play well for a change too). Thanks to the nudge from David Shepherd, I’ve been soaking up videos from the Short Game Chef over the last month — noticeable improvement in my chipping.
Until next time - happy creating!
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