Lessons in Funemployment: Those Who Say Nay

I’m on my honeymoon this week and my good friend (and best man) Mike has agreed to step in and do some guest posts. He blogs regularly at The Bleacher Seats (a blog about Ranger’s baseball) and has some great insights into life, work, and unem­ploy­ment. This is part 2 of a three part series. For click here for part 1. Come back Saturday for part 3!

It’s Mike again and I’m back for Part 2 of my 3 part series, Lessons in Funem­ploy­ment. (Please hold your applause until the end.)

Since leaving high school, I’ve met a lot of people. Some of those people were positive influ­ences, like friends and college profes­sors. Those people may have chal­lenged me or forced me to look at the world in a different way.

If I did change because of them, it was to become a more mature and well-rounded human person. Someone with a greater under­standing of who he is and what he believes in.

But there were others that I met that weren’t as inter­ested in making my life better. These people were often too wrapped up in them­selves, using other people or trying to keep them down.

Briefly, I want to describe 3 such people that I’ve run across in recent years. We will call them Patrick, Dave, and Mr. Schmitt.

“You’re not good enough.”

Patrick was an instructor of mine in college. He was respon­sible for grading various projects for a film class that I was taking. Patrick wasn’t a bad guy, but he also wasn’t a great commu­ni­cator and his method of grading was based more on the gut than the cerebral. (He gave someone else’s project a poor grade because it ‘felt’ too much like the movie Signs. This is not construc­tive criticism and in no way would have made the film­makers better at their craft.)

As that partic­ular class wore on, a lot of people took issue with Patrick. He seemed to be looking for Hollywood caliber from a group of people in their early 20s. There was, essen­tially, no learning curve and no consid­er­a­tion for the need to grow as a storyteller.

I got a B in the class, but my expe­ri­ence with Patrick took away a lot of my enthu­siasm for film­making. (Mind you, that was the whole reason I went to school in the first place.)

Patrick spent a lot of time teaching me that I wasn’t good enough, instead of teaching me how to get better.

“My ideas are better.”

Dave was a guy that I worked with in my very last semester at univer­sity. We were tech­ni­cally colleagues, but Dave never saw it that way.

He was one of those creative types that is too wrapped up in his own “genius” to consider those around him. He put the rest of the crew he was working with through Hell because he couldn’t get past his own ego.

He also completely failed to under­stand that film­making, like a lot of things, is a collab­o­ra­tive effort and rarely has anything to do with the vision of one man. (Unless you’re George Lucas, which Dave had a lot in common with if you take away George’s money and success).

To Dave’s credit, I did learn one very important lesson from him. Don’t be like Dave.

“Remember that you work for me.”

Mr. Schmitt was my boss at a summer camp that I worked at for 3 noncon­sec­u­tive summers. (Unlike Dave, I actually worked for Mr. Schmitt and not with Mr. Schmitt.)

Mr. Schmitt’s strengths were in marketing and PR, with a lot less emphasis on inter­per­sonal skills. His manage­ment style was like that of a carpenter trying to implement the appro­priate tool to get a job done. (When you’re using a hammer, you don’t have to ask it nicely first. People are not like hammers in this way.)

Aside from poor commu­ni­ca­tion, Mr. Schmitt spent a lot of time inad­ver­tently talking about what I wasn’t doing well. The position that I took over in 2006 had been occupied by another guy for 5 summers.

On days when there wasn’t a lot going on, Mr. Schmitt might pop into my workspace and talk to other employees about how great the guy was that I had replaced.

On and on he would go as I listened to all of the reasons why someone else was better at my job than me.

Of course, there was a lot that I loved about that job and it was far from thankless. But a lot of frus­tra­tion could have been spared if Mr. Schmitt had treated his employees like people and not poseable action figures (with Kung-Fu Action Grip).

All 3 of these men had a profound effect on me. By the time I left college people like Patrick, Dave, and Mr. Schmitt had worn me down. That thing that I had wanted to do for a long time wasn’t all that appealing for a while.

I was burnt out on people who fancied them­selves creative and decided to take a break from all of it. My dream was the last thing on my mind.

Feel free to tell me what a talent­less loser I am in the comments.

If things seem grim now, don’t worry.

My story isn’t over and, like most stories, the hero (that’s me!) can only overcome after a period in which all hope seems lost. Act 3 is coming up shortly and you can tune back in on Saturday to see whatever became of me and my dream.

(You may now applaud.)

3 Responses to “Lessons in Funemployment: Those Who Say Nay”

  1. Brandon April 21, 2011 at 9:19 AM #

    Great post!

  2. JeniferR April 21, 2011 at 11:07 AM #

    Isn’t it amazing the impact an employer can have on an indi­vidual? This is something I try to keep in mind as I go throughout life. As a parent I realize I can do the same thing to my kids that these employers did to you. Lessons such as these can be seen throughout much of life.

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