Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I did it

So ... I did it...
It took me three years and the grace of God, but I did it.
I stood up to someone and said my peace in it's entirety. It was probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I was sitting in a meeting and I just couldn't stand it any longer. It was one of those moments when you know you are about to open the flood gates, cross a line, go to that point of no return and you amaze yourself that you have opened your mouth and the words coming out are the ones that you have rattled in your brain for what seems like forever. It was one of those times when you openly acknowledge to yourself that you are opening yourself up to the firing range and you are probably going to stand there alone, but you have to say what you have to say or you will explode under the self inflicted pressure.
So I did it... I let it all go... I could not let her beat down the people in the room any longer. I see her week after week stealing the life out of our employees and I could not let them sit there in fear of her any longer. When the words started flowing, I slowly saw the other employees who normally sit through this weekly meeting staring at the table and praying that she doesn't call on them, suddenly lift their heads and slowly shake in agreement with the words that were coming out of my mouth. She tried to spin my words to be in her favor, but I wouldn't allow it.. I had come this far...I stuck my neck out so I might as well say everything before she cuts it off.
One of the employees was so relieved that she found the courage to stand beside me and thank me for standing up for them. Everyone slowly came to this silent solidarity. We know the problems, we know it is all wrong... we didn't need her to voice it in a meeting, yell at people in front of other employees, demand change then walk out with no solutions.
The meeting was adjourned... she left the office.. I knew this was not over.. but I was finally ready to lay my cards on the table and play the hand to the end. She came back and went straight into my mother's office, slammed the door and began to yell at my mother. I could hear her through the wall since my office shares the same wall. I heard her voice, but I did not hear my mother's. Next thing I know she is standing at my door and points angrily to my mother's door, which of course was the "parent's" way of caling the "child" into mom and dad's room for punishment.
She sat down, and I sat down and turned my chair to face her directly. She looked at my mother, and my mother told her that this was between her and me and if she wanted me in here, she needed to talk to me. At one point in her rant my mother starts to interrupt her and stand up for me and I quickly jumped in and said, "I am listening to every word she says, and I respect her enough to let her finish completely before responding and I will in turn ask for the same respect when it is my turn to speak." My mother quietly sat back in the realization that I am ready to enter this battle alone.
When she was done, I started to speak... she very quickly started interrupting my comments and I reminded her that I had respected her words, and I asked that she respect mine. She sat back and crossed her arms and legs.
Behind those closed doors, I finally found my foundation. I advised her that I cannot change how she perceived what happened in that conference room today. I was not putting her down, I was standing up for the employees. I reminded her that she is ONE of the owners of this company, not my parent, and I will not be told what I can and cannot say or what I can question or cannot question. I told her that the overall mood of this company was very negative and telling people what a poor job they were doing was not helping to fix our crisis. I said much more, and willingly admit that in the heat of the conversation, I crossed lines when I shouldn't have, but the majority of my words were clear and resolute. I hoped that she would take the time to hear my words and pray about what I have said (she is a VERY religiuos person).
I know she heard me... I do not think her ego will allow her to acknowledge that fact... but that's okay. I didn't need her to hear the words as much as I needed to say them. I know it will be very difficult to work with her and her family for awhile, but I never really cared what they thought in the first place. This is my mother's sweat and tears... this is my mother's sacrifice.. it is my will to make it the best company it can be so that when the time comes and my mother is ready, it will pull the best profit possible for her retirement.
My mother called me on the way home from work...
"....I love you more than you will ever know...."
"No, mom... I love YOU more than you will ever know...."
Standing up has never felt so good.

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