I was returning from KL to board my plane back home. My eyes popped up in happiness to see one of my ex-bosses whom I met last a decade ago. I rushed to him and exchanged notes (biz cards) and got chatting about what I do now for a living. He shared how proud he was about his kids who had grown up to be professionals in different fields.
It was like old times when I was 25 and he was 38. The train/bus journeys we did together and the interesting customer/colleague experiences we had. After that, I sat in the plane and reflected on my close to two decades of professional life. I counted the number of bosses I worked directly with, across four different organisations.
There are 10 people I reported to, It’s not my fault, as either. I got promoted, they changed roles or we resigned in different times for reasons best known to us. Trust me I am not unlucky to my ex-bosses :).
More than my history I was reflecting on how many of my ex-bosses if I bump into, I will rush to say Hi, how many I will avoid and walk away.
Couple of faces was not comforting to remember. As much as I have aged to tell myself “grow up” there is still some uneasiness about how two of those relationships ended. The first person in contention I believe would have been happy when I resigned; The second one, I was happy that he left. Sounds like its ‘one all’ for now. But I ask you how many of your ex-bosses give you that twitches in your stomach when you think of them? Makes you feel bad about the relationship which did not have a pleasant ending! I am sure today in the connected world we can be in touch via phones or social network. How many do you keep in touch because you like them or some simply because they are in good positions?
Some we just can’t think of as references for our next job and wish away when somebody refers about them. Think about it. Why do we always remember how it ended, can’t we preserve our memories on how and why it lasted when it did. Difficult as we are dealing with those emotions of disagreements, trust breaches, somebody else getting the promotion, the list might be endless. We could cut off the relationships, erase the numbers, delete our Facebook connection, but we can’t take away the fact that he or she was our boss.
Today’s employment world is networked. Informal references, word of mouth recommendations influence some of our career moments unknowingly. I don’t know what you would do to get rid of your incompletions. So, I decided to call one of my ex-bosses and say Hi after 17 years. I needed to make a couple of phone calls to get his phone number.
Why am I calling him? he was the most brilliant sales guy I had amongst my bosses. Whenever I took him to my customers he was capable of a conversation to impress them. Mind you those days we took our bosses to difficult customers to see if S/he could crack them. It was fun if they couldn’t break the ice. 🙂 Our bosses had to do an impressive sales job in full view of his sadistic reportees.
In no way it was easy and today when my colleagues take me to tough-talking customers I realise the world has come a full circle. So, after 17 long years, I realised I have not buried the hatchet & there is a need for completion. I have learnt how to sell under pressure from this gentleman and it’s time to let go my ego and say Hi. I called him; he said he could not recollect me. But, I pressed on and made the connection. Off course it’s been a long time, after a 5-minute conversation, we promised to meet in person and hung up. It was awkward, But, I am mighty pleased with myself now :).
I suggest you be mentally prepared to be seated next to your “boss turned foe” in your next long flight. Bosses come in different shades of colour and sizes just like you and me. I am sure many of you are wannabe or bosses already and you want your reportees to remember you as well
Don’t wait like me for 15 years to turn the leaf back!