Friday, October 17, 2008
My group of advisors and assistants, minus the man behind the cellphone camera. We are a very diverse group, albeit all white, which has only dawned on me as I write this. Nonetheless, we have managed to put aside ideological differences to create a team that works extremely well together through periods of frequent change and tremendous amounts of stress. We also collectively have demons too intense to discuss in this arena, but it has left us with a collective compassion for each other and the students we serve. Sometimes, there are glitches however. Recently, my boss asked us to support one of my colleagues for a remunerative university award. She is an incredible person. Her life has not been easy, as she has had a number of parenting challenges many people would, if given the chance, completely avoid. Without providing too many details, I need only look at the number of abandoned children with disabilties in the halfway houses in my neighbourhood who have grown to become abandoned adults. In any case, I have worked with her for ten years and she has been an incredibly hardworking, efficient, and reliable person who has often taught her superiors the rigours of their jobs without ever complaining. In fact, she rarely complains about anything, even though there are times when I am well aware that things piss her off.
Having said this, my reaction to my boss' e-mail - albeit after a long day and only four hours of sleep - was less than stellar. In the comfort an isolation of my own home, I pouted, brooded, and plotted my annual escape to a mythical job and place that would offer me esteem and satisfaction. It didn't last. By the following morning I was feeling better and wrote a passionate letter which I hope will help her beat the other nominees. The question remains, why did I react that way? An interesting article, one of several citing Management theorist Robert Vecchio, ties it into self-esteem. Knowing that I have the reputation as a great academic advisor who is loved by his students should be enough, no? Well it seems like it cuts a little deeper. My salary is meets the average for a university educated man in Quebec, but many people make a lot more money and I am frequently reminded of this by friends and family. I am forever battling the "potential monster" that pegged me as a genius with an unlimited future at around the age of five, when I declined an invitation to finger paint on newspaper, preferring instead to read the articles. Somewhere the brain train stopped and I am not sitting in a legal office with a six figure salary, or sipping cocktails with a trophy wife in Maui. However, I love what I do and am lucky to be working in a great environment with great people. Maybe it's time others stopped associating potential with monetary value that results from jobs traditonally associated with success. It would save a lot of my students disappointment when they do not get into law or medical school, and would push a lot more intelligent, creative people into "average" professions. I hope my colleage wins the award, and I hope I can also look more at the positive aspects of my life in the future. I have alot to be thankful for.