Today as I work to clean up my office as they are carpeting our building, I am able to go through many things that have been a long time in coming. One such piece is a 2006 work by a good friend of mine that lines out middle management at my college. She equates it to the excellent movie, the Great Escape and links the middle managers of the Institute with characters in the movie. When it was written in 2016 I took time to read only my own piece of the puzzle. Today I took the time to read the entire piece and it is incredible. Many of the managers on campus that were interviewed have retired or moved on, some are still here and continue to fight the good fight. What is most incredible is that to a letter their personalities have continued in the same vein as they were written about in 2016.
I have to say that is one lesson I have learned through life, that people tend not to change. Now, there are events that cause significant change, but in each of these cases where the writer considers the positive aspects of the personality of these middle managers, they remain their strengths and often simultaneously their weaknesses today. Time passes and things happen, but they are still who they were and I am still who I was…albeit with a few more scars and a little less Pollyanna.
Indeed I believe that while our personalities don’t change that our life experiences impact us greatly. Each day we have the choice to determine if what has happened is going to help us become better, stronger people or if it will drag us down to the point that we are no longer able to be impactful. This is a constant struggle. In the piece the author notes that either prayer or meditation are necessary to keep middle managers on the right path. I wonder if both aren’t necessary and ultimately as you age you grow.
I hope in the end that I am like my Grandad who was an MP in WWII and saw things as the Allies liberated Europe that he would not speak about aside to say, “Those poor people”. He took everything in stride and really only got mad when it mattered (two times in the 18 years I knew him). He mustered out, came home to New Mexico and spent his life farming. We have great stories from his life and in the end he would sit with his Grandson (nicotine patch, oxygen tank and smoking a Kool cigarette) and through mostly silence teach life lessons that impact me every day.
The lesson I have used most lately is a great saying, “It takes all kinds to make this crazy world go round”. Certainly in life, middle management, not to mention in the Great Escape, it takes all kinds. If we take a minute to count our friends and our victories we can move in his direction rather than counting our enemies and imagined losses. You see, he never said an unkind word about anyone to me, but often through his silence you knew what he felt.
No one is getting out of here alive, so lets enjoy today and appreciate those who appreciate us. Gotta go…I have some old friends to catch up with.
Citation redacted to protect the author (if permission is given it will be listed here)