Simmering Dramatics

The day before my first day at work, I was in Jakarta. The last time I went away for work, Mr TCM hasn’t started his practice. The plan was to stay in Jakarta for a week. My mom was to watch the children. I came back unexpectedly in two days. The protests had made important people nervous.

My mom came over and the kids practiced getting use to her. It was great to have her around to help. It started the week before I moved to my new department. I was cramming as much as I could before I moved on. I had imagined I would cry at work. Such dramatics did not happen. I had a lovely afternoon tea and everyone wished me well. That night, at 11pm, I brought back two huge bags of personal things. On Sunday, I flew to Jakarta. Also unexpectedly, the kids did their homework with her. There was no need for threats and drama. I had prepared them and they displayed self control.

The protests did not escalate while I was there. Indonesians hardly grumbled even though they were stuck in 4 hour traffic jams. Singaporeans would have rioted over the jam. I was very far from the protests area and had moved only between the hotel and the office. I agreed with the director who headed the trip that it felt safe. I personally thought that trying to get to the airport might be riskier than staying in the hotel. Half an hour into the second day, we said our goodbyes to colleagues. I didn’t manage to take picture with the COO who was going to retire end of this year.

Going there and rushing back gave me a strange anxiety. I had some anxiety about leaving my old firm and going into a new place. The thing was, I was leaving my old firm, joining the new firm to support the oversight of a sub-section of my old firm. I was going to Jakarta, meeting familiar friends and colleagues in a different capacity. Yet in that visit, I was launched into the new universe, meeting new people who are extremely kind and friendly.

Still, I carried the anxiety back to the office. The sense of anxiety carried through the conversations I had with my old colleagues. I had been there for a long time, they were there for a month tops. They were anxious about the work. I was anxious about my new work and in that anxiety I felt that I moved a little out of step, out of beat with the rest of my new colleagues.

Over this feeling of anxiety, there was happiness. I had been with my old firm for 12 years but I never laughed so often with them. I did laugh but mainly when the bigwigs were around, telling jokes and stories. That was not often. I laughed more times in my first week than in a year. Today, my direct supervisor came back from lunch and showed us the pastel he did over lunch. It was really impressive! Art! I really like them and hoped they like me too.


Exuberent enthusiasm

I was 7 when I met this older child who was then 11 years old. She was a prefect. She was soft spoken but had a quiet authority about her. I wanted to be like her. Everyday, I would save a space for her next to me on the bus. I don’t think I had ever spoken with her. There was just an understanding that the seat was only saved for her. She did speak with me twice – once to signal to me I shouldn’t be rolling up my skirt. The other was the last day of school – she was already in Primary 6. I was first puzzled then crestfallen. I thought school went on forever.

In my career, I have met a few ladies whom I totally idolise. I do speak with them in doing my job. (I have become less introverted.) I never had a chance to totally gush like a tap. There was once, I accidentally blurted out, bewildered, “How can that be? You are so beautiful!” to her saying that her husband finds her look boring. Or some such nonsense husbands are wont to say. She was a totally with it General Manager who, like the older prefect, is soft spoken with quiet authority. There were other idols I have but most of them I never gushed because I noticed women don’t take to flattery the same way.

It is common to hear that most bosses like brown nosing. However, it is my experience that sincere appreciation creates a feeling of suspicion. There is an automatic response that this is poor brown nosing. I wonder why that is. Perhaps in the work place, one does not want real feelings of friendship or happiness. It makes things very difficult when difficult jobs have to occur.

For many years, I have wanted to know how a particular team in my organisation organises totally brilliant tests. Recently, I was given this chance to apply for this learning event and and I got it. A fist pumping moment if ever. It is happening tomorrow. OMG. Incredible. I can’t believe my luck. I might accidentally display exuberant enthusiasm and gush like a burst pipe.

Risk Thinking

Risk is the unknown. Thinking about the unknown is generally rather difficult. A firm has a lot of big tasks that is broken down into simple steps. You see, making a mistake in those little steps can lead to the fall of a giant. So an organisation frets over these little steps. In a workplace, the unknown is intrinsic due to the variability of emotions and the lack of predictability of what might screw up today. This occupies the minds of middle managers a lot.

An individual does not have such problems – the individual worries primarily about extrinsic unknowns. (The business will do well to learn from an individual!) I want to use risk thinking as a way for individual decision making. But where do I begin?