Don’t hate me for saying this but being the boss isn’t easy. As if playing corporate politics and making difficult decisions without a safety net weren’t enough, the boss also has to take the brunt of your work frustrations. While most of this activity occurs behind his or her back, it can’t be easy knowing that there are people who live to criticize you.
All bosses, even the evil ones, have redeeming qualities. Some are fathers. Others are law-abiding, church-going citizens. A few of them might even be damn cool, albeit away from the fluorescent lights of work. Part of the problem is that we only get a fraction of the picture, and that slice is the one that tells us what to do and when to do it. We’re trained to despise authority, so the boss rarely gets the benefit of the doubt.
But what if your boss died? Suddenly. At his or her desk.
I know it’s a morbid thought, but this exercise has the potential to open your eyes to new possibilities, and maybe, just maybe, get you on the road to a healthier relationship with your boss – and more importantly – yourself.
Eulogies are often reserved for funerals, but these speeches or written tributes are applicable any time you would like to praise a person. Remember: When cooking up a eulogy you have to hold the negative aside and add in a healthy dose of positive.
It might be a challenge to think back to the positive experiences and filter out the negative, but the simple exercise of recalling pleasant events can help recalibrate your relationship. And since I’ve been hit with the summer doldrums at work, I’ve decided it’s time to practice what I preach.
A Eulogy for My Boss
Anyone who worked for John can tell you what a great man he was. It might sound trite, but I can honestly say that John was the best boss I ever had – and I’m willing to bet that everyone who worked for him feels the same way.
Never scared to tell it like it is, John was honest with me during my first interview with the company five years ago. “This place moves at a snail’s pace,” he said. “But if you give it a chance, you’ll find that there are rewards to uncover if you’re willing to put in a little legwork.”
Truth. Honesty. Fairness. Those are just a few ways to describe John. His loyalty to the organization was unquestionable. Unflappable. I remember bumping into him and his wife Maggie at the supermarket one weekend, and there he was – all decked out in the company shirt and hat – even though he was off the clock.
His love for family was undeniable. His commitment to faith unyielding.
There was one time when I had to turn down a crucial assignment because of personal reasons. As approachable as John always was, I remember being scared like a baby when I trekked into his office. This was sensitive material. The kind of stuff that you normally only trust with family. But John was understanding. The issue never came up again, because John made sure it didn’t. And I will always be eternally grateful for his discretion and silent support.
I think it’s fair to say that the world has lost a loving father, a doting husband, and one helluva boss. I know I speak for the entire staff at Company X when I say that John will be missed.
Writing your boss’ eulogy is an emotionally daunting task. But it’s one that I recommend.
It’s important to see people in full view; that’s when you take into account the different parts of their life. Imagine your boss’s portrait as one of those color-by-number pictures, and the only parts filled in are the ones represented by work. Your job is to figure out the missing colors and draw them in. We’re all human, and despite our differences in status at work, we share many of the same problems and attributes.
Never let a boss treat you like dirt or walk all over you. And on the flipside, don’t beat up on your boss. Not with other coworkers. Not in your own head. He or she could be dead tomorrow – so make the most out of today! It’s a morbid exercise, but one that can give you new found respect for everyone’s favorite behind-the-back whipping boy.