Thanks Given

MH3 —  October 4, 2012

There is no person more frustrating to deal with… than your mirror image. At least for me that’s the case.

You see your flaws in them. You can predict their reaction to your conversations. You get annoyed when they slip, not because of their actions, because you assume responsibility for their misstep.

Everything you wish you wouldn’t do, draws twice the emotional reaction when they do it. It’s almost as if you want to say, “I can sway off course, but you shouldn’t!!!!”

Usually these people are someone that you admire or enjoy collaborating with. The good news of a mirror is they understand you. They share some or all of your value set. They have similar aspirations. You rarely have to persuade them in joining your pursuit of some ambitious goal. Without being told, they know when to jump in and clean up a mess. Without being told, they know when a task needs fulfillment, despite the extraordinary personal commitment. Without begrudging you, they often will sacrifice themselves for the good of the whole. Their allegiance is unwavering. Your trust is oceans deep. Their output is top notch. Your expectations are exceeded. Their satisfaction is satisfying you. Your satisfaction is in being satisfied.

My one and only boss was somewhat my mirror. We both valued the esthetics of the work often over its functionality. We both thought we were the best in our business. We were both convinced we could always out-earn our expenses. He had a great many flaws, many of them tragic — I won’t dwell on here. But he usually made me craziest when he was acting like me.

This week our agency lost an employee who I would consider a mirror. He isn’t the only mirror I have ever had. He isn’t the only mirror I will have. He wasn’t the best employee we have ever had. Though he may have thought so. (Wink, wink)

When I say lost, this isn’t a story of life and death. No, after nearly five years of being part of our team, he has resigned to go find himself. I get that. He is my mirror, after all.

It’s sad in the sense that we are losing a great talent. A superstar I met when he was still a university student. A giant brain, who I often told was one of the few people I considered smarter than me. (Yes, yes, yes, I know how awfully obnoxious that sounds.) A workaholic who would get so swallowed up in delivering that everything else around him was sacrificed. He was that guy who I know would never, ever let me down. He was that guy who would pull the all-nighter, to fix someone else’s work, so I didn’t have to.

Oh, he had his flaws. He was pretty convinced the sun set and rose on his watch. Like me at his age, he couldn’t manage people to save his life. Some would argue I still can’t. Like me, he would often get so caught up in perfection that he’d procrastinate to the very end. Then, with the clock nearing zero, he would produce a masterpiece.

It hurts to lose a talent, but I am glad for him in a bigger sense. I was at a similar stage when I asked myself the question of whether what I was doing was for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t act as early as I should have. So I am glad we don’t share that trait.

You may think I am also happy he is left. Not for me. Not for our agency. Not at all. But for him? What’s that expression? When you love someone set them free?

It’s time for him to go free. So, it’s time for me to say: Thanks David.

One response to Thanks Given

  1. Insightful…poignant…and real!