Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bypassing Promotions

     I might do it again—bypass the opportunity for promotion. Others must think I'm unambitious, lazy, or crazy to not want the additional prestige, responsibility, power, career advancement potential, and cash. In truth, I just want to make best use of my limited time on earth. As no one on his or her death bed has ever said, “My one regret in life is that I didn't spend more time at work.” And prestige, responsibility, power, career advancement potential, and cash come and go and are soon forgotten (once one dies, say) but time spent with family, friends, and loved ones is eternal, never forgotten or regretted, so I believe.
     The night I first noticed the posted vacancy, I imagined what it would be like to take the promotion—this in a different department with tons more responsibility. There would be lots of documents to sign—super long documents that would be impossible to read in their entireties before signing. A retired judge, who was a family friend, once told me, “Don't ever sign anything unless you read it first.” It's one of the best advice I have ever received and I've taken it to heart. It gets merchants (auto mechanics, rental car agencies, landlords, etc.) annoyed at times, but such practice has saved me from regretting hasty “I trust you” decisions, so, no signature from me until I at least get the gist of the document. I imagined the incumbent in the position either signing off on numerous such documents at a glance, or calling the author and asking, “What's this all about? A lot of this technical stuff is over my head”—e.g. for technology department approvals, legal contracts, etc. I know were I in the incumbent's position, regardless of what the author told me, I'd still feel uncomfortable signing off if I hadn't read or understood it. I know good managers trust their co-workers and staff; I wouldn't be so ready, at least at first.
     Also, there would be lots of urgent deadlines. “We have to get this out by today, please let me know ASAP”—I imagined receiving this via employer-provided iPhone some Sunday afternoon as I was assembled with a bunch of kids to practice in our new worship group (I play bass). I'd have to excuse myself, read the thing, respond, and maybe even dismiss myself from attending altogether in order to get the work done, cursing under my breath for having to do such boring, responsible business stuff I really don't want to have to do and forgoing doing the fun, meaningful stuff I really do want to do.
     Also, there would be lots of meetings. I'm not big on non-productive meetings where senseless banter and beat-around-the-bush small talk prevails and perhaps the real issue gets addressed in only the last few minutes, if at all. And I detest meetings dominated by politics, in-fighting, and put downs—especially of those not present. And I wouldn't want to have to put on a fake smile and feel obligated to contribute my own cynical views, and act as if I enjoyed it all and believed that what we were doing was all sooo important and that we were all doing such wonderful jobs, deserving of our disproportionate higher pays.
     Also, there would be lots of stress. None of the higher-ups at our workplace look happy—not one. Nearly all seem stressed-out. Some act completely uncivil and shrill at times. Not something I wanted to be a part of.
     Also, there would be lots of overtime, meaning less time devoted to family life at home, time spent with those whom I love most, doing what makes life enjoyable and meaningful, far more than work ever could. And as our kids are growing so fast, do I really want to miss the next several years of watching them and actively engaging with them—especially Braden who may be leaving home for good in less than three years?
     My current job allows me to arrive early and leave early, thus, I arrive around 6:15 a.m. and leave work shortly after 3:00 p.m. and arrive home before 4:00. No doubt this would be a thing of the past should I take the promotion, not that they'd likely select me, for no higher up has encouraged me to apply or sent signals that I'm their anointed one.
     But I don't mind. What's a twenty percent pay raise (or so) compared to having a job one enjoys (I enjoy mine, overall, 'cause it has enough responsibility, meaning, challenge, and fulfillment, but not too much stress and no overtime or super-tight deadlines). Also, coworkers at my level and below are fantastic—humble, professional, and helpful—and I hope to be like them throughout my career. And the closer I am to them, the more likely I'll be like them, I feel.
     Most important, I don't feel God's peace about the position, whereas I feel tons of God's peace about staying. He's been blessing me and our family in my current job. Decades ago, I bypassed two offers of advancement (due to similar, though different reasons—neither felt right) and have never regretted it. God was with me after those and I believe he's with us now, praise God!

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