I want to send pictures.
Okay, but I thought you refused to allow the school photographer to take any pictures?
Yeah, but I changed my mind. I want to send pictures with my graduation announcements.
The mother and daughter were spending the day doing normal pre-high school graduation activities, shopping, pictures, announcements, lunch. Very traditional family stuff. . . and it was starting to scare the mother just a little bit.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet people with all sorts of different family situations. In this case, we’ll call the daughter Adrian and the mother Bella. Adrian and Bella had a complicated relationship. Adrian had made some bad choices, horrific actually, and she had been living in the Arizona foster care program for several years. Bella and her husband had been very involved in Adrian’s life even after she left their home. But, Adrian continued to make tough choices and the mother/daughter relationship was strained. At times a court order was the only thing that kept them seeing each other. Adrian was graduating from high school and would soon age out of the foster care program. Bella seriously wondered if she’d see her after that.
So, the normal day was a little spooky. Adrian was interested, engaging, and seemed genuinely happy about spending time with her mother.
If you’re used to crazy, normal is a little scary.
I’ve had bosses like that.
Matt was my manager at Microsoft while I was working in the training organization. Matt was crazy. Well, maybe not crazy, but his view of leadership and management was completely different than mine. (The Switched to a Cash Award And Totally Blew It.)
So, when Matt did something reasonable and normal, it always made me nervous. “Crazy” I can learn to live with and manage around. But, how do you deal with a boss who’s crazy on Monday and totally sane on Tuesday?
Remember the Titans is one of my favorite movies, probably because I have black kids and white kids, and the movie is about integration. In one scene, the black head coach benches Petey, an emotional player who is black. The white assistant coach pulls Petey aside and gives him a place on the defense. After the game the head coach talks to his assistant about it.
All right, listen, about Petey…
No thanks required, Coach.
Thanks? You challenged my authority in front of the entire football team, Coach. Now, you think you’re doing these boys a favour taking them aside every time I come down on them, protecting them from big bad Boone. You’re cutting my legs from under me.
Some of the boys just don’t respond well to public criticism. I tell them what they need to know, but I don’t humiliate them in front of the team.
Which boys are you talking about? Which ones you talking about? I come down on Bertier. I don’t see you coddle him. Come down on Sunshine. Don’t see you grab his hand, take him off to the side. Which boys are you talking about? Now I may be a mean cuss. But I’m the same mean cuss with everybody out there on that football field. The world don’t give a damn about how sensitive these kids are, especially the young black kids. You ain’t doin’ these kids a favor by patronizing them. You crippling them; You crippling them for life.
What the head coach understood, was the value of consistency. Even if you are going to be a mean cuss, be the same mean cuss to everybody on the field. Okay, probably not a good idea to be a mean cuss to your IT team. But, the lesson is consistency.
Because if you’re used to crazy, normal can be downright frightening.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.