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Work/Life: With Great Lack of Power Comes Great Responsibility

CEO Dad’s Tuesday Tirade…. Faster than a speeding seminar! More powerful than a consultant! Able to leap tall misconceptions in a single bound! Look, over there by the cheese dip! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…Personal Growth Man!

CEO Dad’s Tuesday Tirade….

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Faster than a speeding seminar! More powerful than a consultant! Able to leap tall misconceptions in a single bound! Look, over there by the cheese dip! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…Personal Growth Man!

Yes, despite my best efforts, my alter-ego Personal Growth Man reared his head at a gathering of family and friends this past weekend. No, PGM does not wear tights or a cape, but perhaps if he did my guests would simply have pointed at me and laughed instead of enduring the ersatz inner-superhero I carry within my own personal Fortress of Solitude.

Some of you may know about this person, and may yourselves carry him/her inside you. See, you think your mission is to save the world, so when Personal Growth Man appears, your chest is puffed out with the righteousness of sharing the knowledge you’ve gained over years of “perfecting” your work/life balance. What you don’t realize is that you are about to make a perfectly good ass of yourself, swept up in a moment when you actually think you’ve figured out something the rest of the world hasn’t.

And there you are, or, at any rate, there I was, at this social gathering, and while flipping burgers on the grill my x-ray eyes roamed the assembly of family, friends and business associates. First, it was the guy talking on his cell phone! At a party! Honestly, can’t he leave work out of his life for two seconds? Can’t he be like me, who has progressed so much further, and knows what’s really important in life? And look at that woman over there: why, her young son was playing all the characters in an entire scene from some written work that he’d memorized, and she merely gave him a cursory nod of recognition! Why, if that were me, I would lavish him with praise, and let him know that his daddy has his work/life priorities in order. Finally, I saw the man shooting footage on the DVD cam, so obsessed with technology that he would rather hide behind a camera than interact with those he loves.

Heck, the symptoms were obvious to me, and it was time for Personal Growth Man to sally forth and make his opinions known. To each person I explained my level of expertise in juggling work and personal lives, glowing with knowledge and certain that I was enlightening them. (Oblivious to the fact that my wife had specifically assigned me to the task of working the grill, so that I’d have something to do and not wander off to watch sports, phone my broker, or continue studying for my Masters degree in ignoring my own children.)

Well, it turned out the guy on the cell phone was checking his voicemail because his mom was in the hospital and he had been waiting for a call from his brother with an update. The parent who was seemingly ignoring her child was actually enduring the thirty-seventh straight recital of a scene from last week’s Sponge Bob Squarepants which the boy had been parroting non-stop since the previous evening. And the guy with the video camera was asked by his daughter to take some footage of her at the party so she could bring it into Show and Tell on Monday and give a talk about how much she loves her family. All in all, in response to my deep wisdom about the way things are, I received one “none of your business” one “get out of my face” and one “you’re a fine one to talk.” As I see it, Personal Growth Man got off easy. I could have gotten a few knees to the groin, and that’s not something you want to have happen in tights.

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If anyone else has had to realize that they don’t know it all, and probably never will, let me know.

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