Ah, Monopoly. It’s always held a special place in my heart. My favorite game growing up, I only stopped playing because I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to play anymore. Me and my obsessive personality. Anyway…remember the days when you sat around with your friends and rolled the dice, picking up Chance cards along the way, stopping by Free Parking and building that wretched hotel on Boardwalk, giving a fake board game “Sorry” while you mischievously laughed on the inside? OK, maybe that was just me.
Still, years later, I feel like I’ve come full circle. The difference is that while back then I played with fake money for (extremely competitive) fun, now it’s my life that’s become the game and what I do has consequences and an actual impact, good or bad.
So who am I? I work in the HR office at a design firm as the 2nd of 2 people. While I’m not fresh meat, I don’t have a working memory of the 80’s – take that as you will. I’m pretty new to this whole thing, but true to my Gen Y-ness, I bite off more than I can chew and I work through a challenge with a pretty high level of sass. So when things comes up that I think I can handle, I put myself out there and do my best to make myself an expert in whatever it is I’m working on. Neverthless, I have no clout and no pull and despite my own thoughts and musings (and believe me, I have plenty of those), no one really needs to listen to me. I don’t have influence at the corporate level or even that much at the local level. I don’t have the experience or the seniority that could back me up.
In the most recent occurrence of this blowing up in my face, I got a call from a corporate employee telling me to back off from a project that I was only peripherally involved in. I put up a small fight and tried my best to convey the point, but when I was thrown a condescending tone and an attitude that essentially (and almost literally) said “You’re trying to do the job of the CEO. Step back and know your place”, I stopped poking the bear and ran.
The moral of the story is that I don’t really know the rules of the corporate game. As a seeming irrelevant, low-on-the-totem-pole kind of employee, I thought that my reaction should immediately be to concede and let the mysterious “corporate” do what it considers appropriate. But on second thought, that just doesn’t jive with me and that’s really not who I am. Cue an example: I once asked my boss if I could sit in on something and said that if it would help, I wouldn’t say anything, to which she promptly laughed and responded, “Yeah, right. Like you wouldn’t say what was on your mind”. I can’t decide how she meant that, but I took it as a compliment since she let me come. But point of story: I don’t quietly sit back and let things happen, I participate and get myself caught up in the action.
And why not? What is there to be gained by sitting on the sidelines when you are filled with ideas that could make any initiative 100 times more successful? So while that may involve taking a step back to survey the scene and figure out how to get your ideas heard, at least you’re putting your thoughts into the ring. No, it’s not as easy as simply trading your properties for your opponent’s by exchanging deed cards. But the principle is the same: trading what you have, be it information, conceptual plans, contacts, etc. for something of value to another person. If playing the corporate game is going to get my voice heard, then I’ve gotta take the chance (no pun intended), right?
So what kind of stories do you have? Are you aggressive like the racecar darting across the board? Or are you of a thimble, carefully observing what’s going on before making your move? Show me some love, I’d love to hear from you.