Friday, July 06, 2007

Ok. So Maybe I Didn’t Think This Through Entirely . . .

The title says it all. But I’ll elaborate anyway, since bitching is our national pastime and because my entire career is derived from the bitching and suffering of other people. The move from my old firm to the new one has not been smooth. More precisely, anything I delegated to myself for handling has gone like clockwork – impeccably – flawless. For instance, the recruiting of all of our employees and clandestinely moving them to the new space – without a hitch. The gathering of our clients and shepherding them to the new digs – perfect. Keeping everything a secret for months through the controlled dissemination of information – a home run.

Everything I delegated to others however, has been a disappointment. The phones don’t work right. Our clients can’t get through to us when they need to. The computers have been a major disappointment in many ways. I relied on other people to make sure these things worked. Little things like ordering file folders. The person who ordered the file cabinets was not the same person who ordered the files that go inside them. Needless to say, they don’t fit. Do you have any idea what 400 legal files look like when they’re on your floor? We were having so many problems that working on cases became impossible. It seemed that all I did was troubleshoot problems. It got to the point where I actually lost count of how many times I’d say “Houston, we have a problem” in a single day. We don’t have systems, procedures or routines for getting things done. I hear “DENNIS, HOW DO WE . . .?” in my sleep.

I’m doing more administrative/managerial type things in the course of day than anything else. And I’ve woken up to find myself in the middle of a nightmare. You see, I owned my own business once before – during the three years right before rehab. I watched everything go down the drain as I struggled to keep it together for three years. But the stress and fear was too much – so my drinking and drugging got way out of hand. Finally, everything came apart and I landed in an addiction center. I spent the next 8 years working for a firm I thankfully didn’t own. I was so happy not to be the man. I was thrilled not to have any of the risk and not to have to worry about the burdens of running a business. I was safe.

I don’t know what happened. But this feels frighteningly familiar. Suddenly, I’m the man again. But I don’t want to be the man. I have checkbooks in my drawer. I’m reconciling bank statements. I’m negotiating contracts with vendors. I’m making decisions about letting people work overtime. I’m interviewing and hiring people. I’m answering the landlord’s questions. I’m deciding whether we go with the 20 lb or 28 lb bond paper. What happened to my safe place? What happened to my world where all I had to worry about was whether or not I handled cases properly? Suddenly, I’m a businessman again. And I’m scared.

True, I don’t have the ultimate responsibility for making payroll and paying the rent – that headache belongs to the managing partners. But I am the managing partner for this office. And I’ve certainly taken on much more than I thought I’d have to. Other people were supposed to make all the stupid decisions about hiring and 28 pound bond paper and stuff like that. I barely have time to practice or handle my cases. I’m still working seven days a week. And every day I get more behind.

It’s not all bad though. I’m not at all sorry I made this move. I absolutely had to get out of the other place. The pay and benefits here are much better than what I had before and the people are fantastic. It’s just scary to be back in a place that was responsible for triggering the darkest period of my life. I feel like an alcoholic who just took a job as a bartender. I keep hearing these words in my head. “Its not ‘if’ its ‘when.’” And I know what that means.

I clearly remember thinking to myself, a few months back, the following thought: “You know that the stuff you’re handling will be fine. It’s the stuff you’ve left for others that will be the problem. I guess when we get over there, we’ll find out just how big of a problem it will be.” I knew I had no idea what to expect other than a big headache. Well, I got it and it’s a whopper.

My options? Simple – I have to ride this out just like everything else. It’s really just more of the same . . . dealing with life as it’s presented. Meeting life on life’s terms. None of us really have any control over our lives. Control is just an illusion. You can argue otherwise, if you like, but it’s just the ego in you refusing to acknowledge what’s true. And if you need more persuading, then answer me this question. If you are in control and able to influence the outcome of things in your life (or most things), then why are you not happier? Why isn’t your life better than it is? Why such problems? Think about it.

In the meantime, here’s a couple pictures of the view out of my new window. It’s not as nice as when I was overlooking the old cemetery, but it’s still nice. Notice the giant clock on the front of the big building to the right . . . I always know what time it is!

And here’s a picture of my desk. Didn’t take long to get all cluttered up, huh?

And now for some cake . . .

No. It doesn't say Happy Sphincter Day. It says Happy Splinter Day. What? You don't celebrate Splinter Day in your office? You don't know what you're missing . . .