One Gaffe at a Time – Step 1

Welcome to the first in a series of posts following my journey through the Incompetents Anonymous (IA) recovery process in my quest for competence, spirited enlightenment, and workplace sanity. Let’s start at the bottom.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over incompetence – that our hierarchy had become uncontrollable.

It is a truly spiritual moment when you realise that your work environment is beyond your control and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Congratulations, this is the start of your recovery. Once you take this step then your future path becomes clear. If you are being thrown out of town, then get in front and make it look like a parade in your honour.

I have hit IA rock bottom more than once and at least once in every organisation that I have worked. My most vivid plunge into the void of incompetence took place during an initial meeting with a new supervisor. Did you ever find yourself on the wrong side of a burnt bridge with a boss that obviously didn’t want you to be working for them?  Sometimes you just need to suck it up and move forward, but this time it was clear that my only path forward was out the door. That’s office politics for you, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. At least I was given three month’s notice, but it was perhaps overkill to make those three months the most demeaning of my entire work career.

Then there was the time the first words a new supervisor said to me were: “I bet you’re sorry you complained about me now.”  I wasn’t sorry that I complained about them, but I soon became very sorry that they were told that I complained about them.

How about the time I took a year leave to complete my doctorate and my dissertation advisor dropped me? I managed to find another advisor and complete my degree but was laid-off from my teaching position a week after my dissertation defense. The only thing worse than an academic out of touch with reality is an academic wannabe out of touch with reality.

OUCH! I was just talking to my IA sponsor, and they tell me that I obviously need more work on this step. Apparently, I should be focusing on personal recovery rather than blaming others. Something about there being no “I” in team and that pointing a finger at someone leaves three fingers pointing back at yourself.

OK, I admit it. There is no “I” in team, but you can find a “’me” and an “eat” in there if you look hard enough. True, if you point your finger at someone there are still three pointing back, but if you use your middle index finger pointed in an upward direction, then the message is more clearly received.

I think I must be cured because my sponsor just told me that I should go directly to Step 13.

Dr. StrangeJob

The Audacity Prayer: Grant me the authority to eliminate those that will not follow, the ability to terrorise those that remain, and the audacity not to care about the difference.

IA Final Logo A

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