Relief or Suicide?

You be the judge.

The relief is mine for saying something out loud that I should have done years ago. The suicide is mine but used metaphorically to describe me torpedoing a ‘traditional’ career route. Is the following full of broad remarks? For sure. I know and admire many excellent people who are not of the type I mention. However, the exception proves the rule.

I hate working in large corporate environments. There, said it again but more succinctly. I hate the way they make me feel, mostly because the corporate political culture is something I am so terribly bad at. I seem to end up putting my foot in it time and time again. That makes me feel stupid when I know I’m not. Scared because I screwed up and generally in fear because my livelihood is in the hands of another. Usually the one who no longer likes me.

This doesn’t happen to me when I don’t sniff corporate BS and buzzwords and if I worked in a firm it’d be one that eschews such nonsense. For some reason the self-aggrandising style of not very clever posturing triggers something in me that I am very poor at restraining. I have an unquenchable need to call BS when someone is using the phrase of the moment to sound clever or fit in. It doesn’t bother me if there is a logical reason and the word use can be adequately explained or defended. But bullshit is bullshit and needs calling out.

Using language to be part of a group has also been a thing for a long time. It is a necessity of many occupations, from builders to brain surgeons. I get that too. When someone deeply average in their ability, but politically tuned and aspirational, starts adopting the language to try and get ahead then I am triggered by that. Just think of the people who have mangled the popular idiom that originated in the US and is: ‘He can talk the talk but can he walk the walk?’ into ‘He can talk the walk but can he walk the talk?’ Wrong. just wrong. Go look it up. It is even in the Cambridge Dictionary. If you think for a moment about the intended meaning, the twisted version doesn’t make a jot of sense. That small thing hasn’t stopped many delivering it as some sage sounding business judgement upon the attitudes and capabilities of another. And when I hear it I tell them. Nicely and politely, as a service. Not appreciated and often defended in a laughably naive way. And therein lies my weakness.

And yes, the English language is indeed a many splendoured thing that is forever evolving and can’t be cast solid at some determined point. I am not raging about new vocabulary, just the misused and tortured clever vocab that is business babble.

Unless someone is truly good at something then the pretenders are often heard mangling expressions and using convoluted language when simple speech will do. I have come to the unscientific conclusion that many people fear that their worth is diminished if they are clear and simple, and to avoid the cognitive dissonance created by this fear they attempt to enhance the message in a vain attempt to be perceived as a more valuable asset when they utter impenetrable gobbledegook that can only mean that they are really really clever. Usually, this type of behaviour is driven by a complete lack of a deep down personal security and very shallow knowledge, all balanced on a knife-edge of potential exposure.

So many large companies seem to have bloated to the extent that there are so many people in hard to define positions, I am sometimes given to wondering if every other one dropped dead overnight, would the company manage to go on operating tomorrow? Sadly, I think that most would.

I have had the good fortune to meet some incredibly smart people. However, smarts alone don’t cut it unless they can communicate it. My favourite professor – whom I hold in high regard – writes the most impenetrable books. I assume it is for them and four of their closest friends and they do it for the amusement of the others in their group.

The cleverest people I know can make the most complex issues simple and explicable to any audience. Usually, an explanation like that brings real joy to the audience as a complex topic is simplified and no-one is left feeling dumb. The topic may have huge depth and granularity that a lifetime of study will never unravel, but that is another thing.

And the above brings me back to a general dislike of large corporate HR departments. The recruiting arm seem interpret their role as one of homogenising the new-hires and ensuring that no ‘quirky or different’ people slip past them. I live for the day I read about an HR Director issuing an edict that one of the main hiring criteria is that every new candidate must be a bit interesting and a bit different.

In the meantime, I am not holding my breath for someone to contact me, recognising that my incredible talent is all wrapped in a tortured soul. It really is to get it off my chest, think it through, write down, read it back, correct it because I hate poor spelling and typos (my gorgeous wife has a gimlet eye and always gives me a corrections list when I am sure it is perfect) and free myself from the perennial worry about having a perfect CV in order to make it through some byzantine filtering system, a panel interview that is (crush my soul – again) competency based and constant act of searching for jobs and trying to mentally lever myself into something that deep-down I know that I’d hate.

(Career) Suicide? – Most definitely if a LinkedIn style corporate job is the aim. It isn’t so I am in rude health.

Relief? – Yes. Very scary, quite cathartic but I am extremely glad I have got it off my chest.

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