Aug 172012

Is there any job that doesn’t involve writing reports and having meetings?

Not that I particularly mind though. I like to write and as long as they’re reasonably to the point meetings can be a good way of breaking the monotony of writing reports all the time. 😉

Yesterday the two came together beautifully: A meeting about (some of) the reports I had written.

Just look at them! Smiling now, but ready to tear out your throat the moment you show any weakness…

It makes sense. It’s good to give feedback to improve the reports. Make sure that the tone is right, correct some small typos, perhaps reshuffle the order of the document. The usual.

Except that this is my first time ever working as a freelance consultant. It’s my first time doing such an assignment (a validation).

And I might know the subject matter very well; I’ve been working with it for over four years. I might be able to write reasonably well. And they hired me knowing in what I did and didn’t have experience in.

But still…

What if I wrote something completely foolish? What if I missed an extremely important conclusion? What if it’s truly horrible, I get kicked out, because of which I never get another assignment again and I end up in the gutter begging money from the passersby so that I can buy my daily dose of hard liquor, to finally die broken and alone? (An active imagination is both a blessing and a curse…)

Seriously, is there any job that doesn’t involve meetings and reports? I read not so long ago that 6% of the population in western countries can produce all the physical things we need (food, clothes, houses, etc.). The rest of us really must be just pushing paper back and forth…
But a very important lesson I learned from improvisational theater: People take their cues from the performer on whether a scene was good or bad. If at the end of a sketch you act as though it’s the best thing you ever played, people will believe you. But if you act as though it was horrible and you feel like dying, people will believe you too.

The rules might be somewhat different, but the corporate world still is improv. If I go in there all wobbly-kneed, uncertain and apologetic for the terrible pieces I wrote, then they are going to think they’re terrible pieces. If on the other hand I go in with the idea that these are basically good reports, they will believe that too. Yes, there will be typos, changes of tone and reshuffling. And even if I do miss an important conclusion, I am new at this and that’s one of the reasons they get to check it.

So in the end we took out some typos, reshuffled the order and even had some good discussions on what conclusions to draw.

I might not die a lonely alcoholic after all… 🙂

  2 Responses to “Meetings and reports”

  1. pushing paper around….. and expanding the wealth of human knowledge (at least, some of us do so…)

    • Good point! Actually, society would look -very- different without all the “paper pushers”. No (technological) progress, no social security, etc. We’d be back in the middle ages I guess?

      So, keep up the good work!

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