Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wallowing in self pity

Many times in my career I was pushed aside. In General Motors there's a program for promotions called "high potential" employees. At an early time in their careers young men (and now women) were ear-marked for success. Based on a few superficial factors, the lives of many were effected. GM never told anyone that they were "high potential". If you were you just knew it because you got ahead of others with less effort.

My educated guess is that at one time I was high potential. As a measly sixth level mechanical engineer I was put in charge of all the Master Mechanic superintendents as effects quality. Their instructions were to do whatever I said to fix problems. One superintendent, out of pride, refused to take orders from such a low level person. He was demoted he next day! That's why I believe I was "high potential", but something changed that!

I never played "office politics". That's where a person who wants a raise or promotion becomes a virtual servant to someone who can help them in their career. It calls for laughing at unfunny jokes, drinking after hours with the guys, maybe playing golf with those who count, providing office gossip to the boss and basically, being a "yes" man (or woman). GM called that "networking". To advance in a career you must know a person or persons in high places. That's true as a general rule in any job, not just at General Motors. They just took it to extremes and it took it's toll after nearly a hundred years of abuse.

I did get eleven offers to be promoted to superintendent level. However, I rejected them all. GM was the ultimate destroyer of lives. In order to advance an employee had to be agreeable to moving. In most cases moving meant from a plant to Detroit. I did that once, escaped after 4-1/2 years and swore I would never uproot my family again. A promotion, although it makes one feel good about themselves, can hurt more than help.  I was offered an 8th level engineering managers position when I was at headquarters. All I had to do is move my stuff. However, a fine man named Jim Lane had worked harder for it than I had. He was a fine person! When I was offered the position by my boss, Robert Fedak, I recommended Jim. He got the job!  I'm glad because Jim died in a few years of cancer and I made an impact on his last years of life!

Other than that, I was never offered a promotion at my base location. It always required a move. I was told that I just didn't "shoot the bull enough" with my boss and his cronies. That I did not. I worked hard and expected a reward for my successes. That didn't happen, at least until I made Corvette Quality Assurance Manager late in my career.

Depending on where I worked and at what time "credentials" for getting ahead varied from time to time. To golf with the boss never hurt, but when I hired in, Catholics ruled and promoted Catholics. Later it were the Masons who ruled and promoted Masons. Then civil rights affirmative action programs became law and to get ahead a person must be of a minority race. Later that would extend to homosexuals and finally to foreigners. Seldom were hard-working Christian's promoted for any reason. Our priorities were obviously wrong!

Many times when I was passed over for promotions, cushy jobs, raises, and such I wallowed in self pity. The worst case was when Al Gruchalla, the General Superintendent of Master Mechanics, shoved me twice and "promoted" me out. My mistake? He told me that the 3.5 million dollar door line automation must be completed at a certain time. I told him that all the money in the world could not make that happen. That's when I went from "high potential" to "no potential".

Ironically, Gruchalla had to swallow his pride because after it was installed, nobody could get the complex system running. He had to ask me to head that up. I did get it running and running at line rate. However, I had went from being a manager to being a pain. That was my penalty for not being a "yes" man. He got me promoted to headquarters, the worst day of my business life! I wallowed in self-pity for awhile. Life was unfair. People are unfair. Systems are unfair! (Incidentally, he got his just derserves. His estranged wife shot and killed him in self-defense a year later).

I worked for General Motors for forty-one years. I was a hard-working employee until the end, although a thousand times I had reason to cry-baby and quit. I did wallow in self-pity a few times, but hard work and reality quickly cured me of being a chronic complainer. My priorities changed with each injustice, I went from "company man" to "Christian man". Promotions hurt Christian communion. After a GM employee got to superintendent level, GM was to become their life. That never came true for me. GM was never my life, but Christ still is and will always be.

"Self pity"! I bet you've been there and done that yourself. It's phase two of disappointment.  "Pity" being sorrowful that something unpleasant has occurred. "Self-pity" is when that sorrow is from yourself! No one else pities you it seems so you do it yourself. Normally "wallowing in" is associated with self-pit because that's what you do. You wallow as a hog would in a mud hole!

I feel good now! I know that I could have been superintendent 11 times in my career. I even accepted it once and turned around and declined it three days later. That just wasn't what God wanted for me:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
I am thankful for great jobs uninterrupted for 41 years! I have a comfortable retirement, always had good medical care, and lived pretty good for a former nobody from eastern Kentucky. I  have no serious health issues and am not  stressed out. I plan on living awhile because of God's grace. On the other hand if I had moved further up the corporate ladder, stress would have been my life. An early death would have been my destiny. God watched over me and never let me go where he didn't want me to go! I am thankful for where I am and it is God's will that I'm right here doing what I am where I am!
It seems now that anytime any worker has stress, they say "I'm quitting this lowsy job!". That attitude may be why the job is so lowsy to start with. No manager wants a worker, let alone a manager, who wallows in self-pity. That's a given. Would you want a "wallower" if you were the boss?  Certainly not.
If you wallow in self-pity, get your head on straight! What you're concerned so much about this instant may be trivial tomorrow. Time heals. However, time heals more quickly if one heeds this advice:
Matthew 11:28 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
Communing with God is the cure for self-pity. He will take your burden as his own and rest you for a spell. Relying on God is the antidote for "wallowing in self-pity". Look at life a little differently. Look at it through the eyes of a Christian. Look at what God has blessed you with! Look at the lack of importance of worldly things in this temporal world. Take a break from life. Rest your soul for a spell. Put those feet right beside God's. This earth is his footstool!

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