Making adjustments

Office cubicles. Conceptual image for a modern society

The world of grey fabric walls


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Sometimes it seems a job is beyond repair. I can remember a few of those occasions. It might have been too many months since vacation, or when a co-worker was promoted and I hadn’t been. It might have been at one of the later stages of a project. You know the stages:

The six stages of a project

  • Enthusiasm
  • Disillusionment
  • Panic
  • The search for the guilty
  • Punishment of the innocent
  • Rewards and honors for the non-participants

That list was posted at my first professional job, and I’ve seen it many times since. It gets shared a lot because people experience it a lot.

If a project is “headed South”…

…or if a customer or client has sprouted horns, or your new boss is a first-time boss, or the person in the next cube has three loves: cell phone, burnt popcorn, and foot-tapping… you’re aware of some problems at work. It may seem obvious that its time to move on.

Sometimes, in circumstances like the ones just listed (and I’ve experienced all of those… haven’t you?) I remind myself of the telescope.

A few years ago, when I was 8, my parents bought me a telescope. They truly sacrificed to make that purchase; the thing cost about a month of my dad’s pay. I had shown promise as a future astronomer though.

We lugged the cardboard carton across the road, away from house lights and street lights. I set up the stand and followed instructions to align the viewfinder by focusing on a street light.

It worked!

I consulted my little round star chart, and zeroed-in on Jupiter, where five moons were visible, pinpoints that extended both directions from an orange dot, in a neat line. Saturn had four visible moons, and you could see the Cassini divide in the rings.

After viewing double-stars, nebulae, and the dark gray new moon, it was time to box-up the telescope and head home.

…and then it didn’t work

A few nights later, the telescope came out of the same box, but this time it was worthless. You couldn’t find anything. When you looked through the eyepiece, all you saw was black space or maybe a random star.

Don’t mistake a necessary adjustment for a critical flaw.

Complete frustration (bordering on temper tantrum) forced me to dig to the instruction sheet out of the cardboard box. Oh yeah, there was that lining-up-the-scope thing. I did that, and the telescope was good again. In fact, it was wonderful.

So here’s how that relates to today, and to a job: Maybe things are broken, or maybe something is out of alignment. The important truth is, you don’t want to mistake a necessary adjustment for a critical flaw.

Maybe it isn’t time to put the telescope in the yard sale just yet.

Wishing you well with all of your job and career challenges. And thank you for reading and sharing here.

George Pond

If the internet is like a sea, George is the guy you see fishing along the shore. All sorts of good and bad ideas surface each day. He casts out for career development tricks and tools, hoping to land the best of them to share at WageScope.com.

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