Archive for the ‘Let’s be serious for a sec…’ Category

Elul

August 23, 2010

The funny thing about vacation is that while I have all this free time, there’s been no time to write.  And now that we are leaving in the morning and there is too much packing to finish, I am spending time I don’t have to get all my thoughts on (virtual) paper.

I have spent at least a week in this place every summer since I was six.   In the beginning, before cell phones and the internet.  The TV got four channels, the general store sold penny candy, and the above-the-mast caption of the paper read “Man Hits Moose.” Twenty years later, we had cell phones, but no service.  Houses started getting cable.  Starbucks moved to town.  (Town being a 20 minute drive from here).  The post office still closes for an hour in the afternoon so the postmaster can deliver mail.   Cell service is still spotty, but this year we have a house with WIRELESS INTERNET.  TAHDAH!

So, even though I try to disconnect during vacation, after a few days off I ventured over to ima2seven‘s blog, to see what I was missing  back home.  I read her post on Elul, for which I am grateful.  You can really lose track of time here, so I had completely missed Rosh Chodesh.  (You’d think with a clearer view of the night sky I’d be more sensitive to the phases of the moon, but anyway…)

Elul is the prelude to Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur, the holiest days in the Jewish Calendar, and the most foreboding:  The Days of Judgement.  Or as it is known in the common parlance:  The Annual Review.

I learned a trick from some wise colleagues when I used to work at Big Global Consulting Company (real name withheld).  When Assessment Time rolled around, it’s good to be prepared.  That is, write your own review.  In an environment where everything is an emergency, where budgets change daily,  and where meetings are the main activity (never underestimate the power of a group of consultants fortified by coffee), you are only as good as your last assignment.  The boss can’t remember your amazing project from six months ago, and certainly doesn’t have time to write about it.

So, you write a draft of your evaluation, extolling your virtues, tempering it with points you’d like to work on in the coming year (aligning them with  training / career objectives).  Send a draft to your boss explaining that you’ve taken the liberty of sending a rough copy of your personal assessment for review to help save some time.

This is not the easiest thing to do.  You must be honest.  You must accurately describe your contribution without taking undue credit.  You must also demonstrate how your slice of the pie affects the whole operation.  You need to identify for yourself items to work on, and how to address them.  And just as people apt to forget the successes you had last quarter, they are also likely to forget times you weren’t so stellar, so you can focus on areas for improvement without mentioning specific incidents you’d rather not discuss.

A human boss will be usually be grateful – a well-written review can take hours to write, and the boss probably has more than one review to cover.   More than once I have seen my words show up in my official copy of the review.

Elul is the time to write my Annual Review.  Only this time, the Boss-With-A-Capital-B remembers everything.  There is no point in airbrushing my evaluation.  Brutal honesty is required.  It is  not a job or a promotion or a bonus on the line.  It’s something much more important.  And while it’s good to acknowledge what I do well, it’s better for me to focus on what I don’t.

I don’t want to cover up my flaws.  I want to erase them. In order to do that, I have to know what I’m dealing with.

HaShem made me human, and humans cannot be perfect.  HaShem does not expect perfection. But I am not allowed to use that as an excuse.  I can only use it as a reminder to get up when I fall.

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