Take a Break Already

Have you ever had one of those days where it felt like it was all you could do not to tear out your hair and scream at the top of your lungs? I’m sure all of us have felt like that at one time or another. For me, Monday was definitely one of those days. I woke up with a stuffy head and sinus drainage which soon morphed into one of those violent phlegmy coughs that seem to emanate straight from the pits of hell.

Being the good boss and coworker that I am, I didn’t call in. Some managers make it to the top of the proverbial scrap heap and see their lofty vantage point as a sign that they can take it easy, that other people can do the hard work while they sit back and relax a little. I’m not one of those managers. Since I took over my store as General Manager, I’ve been working harder than ever and sick days are all but out of the question. In a perfect world, lean payroll budgets wouldn’t exist and I could have enough wiggle room to accommodate about 20% more in labor that I currently do. But that’s not the world I live in.

In a perfect world, lean payroll budgets wouldn’t exist and I could have enough wiggle room to accommodate about 20% more in labor that I currently do. But that’s not the world I live in.

My store has also been undergoing one of the biggest resets we’ve ever done. We’re eliminating some product lines entirely while expanding others and making room for other high-interest product that our buyers predict will sell better. They even approved the capital for new carpet(!) which I’ve been all but begging for for years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about creating efficiency in my store and assuring that what we offer is what people actually want to buy, but there’s also a not-insignificant part of me that is change-averse. That’s putting it mildly, actually. I avoid change like the plague.

I avoid change like the plague.

Being a manager, though, especially one responsible for an entire store or division, necessitates that one be an agent of change as well as its champion. So let’s just say I’m working on it. Getting back to Monday, I knew that I had a bunch of markdown and repricing projects facing me so I wanted to get started on those when I first came in. I choked down some antihistamines and decongestants and soldiered my way in, hoping that God would see fit to give me an easy-ish day. No such luck.

Being a manager…necessitates that one be an agent of change as well as its champion.

First I ran out of some of the discount stickers I needed. I found some blank ones I could write on, and while not a perfect solution, it got the job done. Then I had an employee who didn’t show up. Now, this employee is usually (almost always) tardy. He’s great when he arrives so I try to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially considering his long commute. When he was over 30 minutes late, I called him. I’m glad now that I didn’t leave a sarcastic message in his inbox because he was in a car accident on the way to work. He’s fine, apart from a bloody nose and other minor injuries, but it shook me up. Out of all of my employees, he’s been at my store the longest, and I consider him to be a dear friend and not just a coworker.

I started writing this as I ate my lunch on Monday. I had to stop and get back to it at the end of my shift on Tuesday, which was my eighth in a row. Now it’s Wednesday, and while I didn’t have to work today, I was violently woken up from my late evening nap by my phone alerting me that we were under a tornado warning. I’ve spent the past few hours checking in on my employees and other friends in the path of the storms, and I’m exhausted.

Honestly, I just wish the universe would take a break for a little bit. Between everything that’s been going on with SCOTUS and the all-but-certain end of Roe v. Wade, to the ongoing pandemic most people are choosing to now ignore, and my own personal troubles, I am never not tired. And I know I’m not alone in that. I read somewhere once that even when life seems unbearable, the most important thing we can do, for ourselves and others, is to bear witness. To share.

I read somewhere once that even when life seems unbearable, the most important thing we can do, for ourselves and others, is to bear witness. To share.

Sharing what we’re going through shows other people they’re not alone in their struggles and the shared empathy created between people who make that connection makes the load easier to bear. And as much as I enjoy being a doom-scrolling latter-day prophet heralding the end times, I can’t help but be hopeful. There are so many good people out there doing good work and it’s always my goal to be among their ranks.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose by John Coleman

HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose by John Coleman

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Harvard Business Review Press in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions the HRB Guide to Crafting Your Purpose, its author, or its publisher.***

If I’m being honest, I approach most self-help and/or personal growth books with a healthy dose of skepticism. It’s not that I’m a Negative Ned or a Pessimistic Paul, per se. It’s just that the market is so saturated with hundreds (probably thousands) of these titles that contain basically identical content that I can’t help but roll my eyes whenever I see a new one hit the shelves. Even the anti-self-help, cool, trendy, swear word-laden titles have started to reach critical mass. At first it was cool to read these because you could be like, “Look at me! I’m bettering myself but in a cool hipster way. F$&$ yeah!”

Even the anti-self-help, cool, trendy, swear word-laden titles have started to reach critical mass.

Even worse than the typical fare one finds in the Personal Growth section of bookstores are the ones that purport to help you find your true purpose in life. Purpose. Such a heavy word. Just listen to anyone who’s achieved a modicum of success in any given field and they’ll tell you all about how they found their true purpose in life. For the rest of us, these people serve as shining examples of our own glaring mediocrity. If only we could find our purpose, maybe we too could enjoy the level of personal and professional fulfillment that these people have.

Just listen to anyone who’s achieved a modicum of success in any given field and they’ll tell you all about how they found their true purpose in life.

The truth, however, is a little more complex than that. I recently got the opportunity to read and review the HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose by John Coleman, published by Harvard Business Review Press. In it, he managed to dismantle some of the skepticism I’ve accumulated over the years through the careful analysis of his own research, plenty of evidence from other reputable sources to back it up, and more than a few real-life examples to provide illustrations for the concepts he lays out in his book. All in all, I was impressed.

Coleman begins his book by discussing the “crisis of meaning” modern society is currently experiencing. Many (if not most) people go to work simply to earn a paycheck. They find no meaning in the work they perform and their days are filled with drudgery and the overwhelming sense that nothing they do matters or provides value. Because of the proliferation of information technologies which allows them to be accessible at all times, they also have no work-life balance. When life is all work and no play, misery quickly ensues.

When life is all work and no play, misery quickly ensues.

One of Coleman’s main assertions throughout his book is that purpose is not something inherent or static. It is fluid and malleable. More than anything, it is something that can be crafted by each individual to provide meaning and happiness in each area of one’s life. It is not always something that one finds, but rather something that can be designed to fit the needs and desires of each individual based on their backgrounds and values.

More than anything, it [purpose] is something that can be crafted by each individual to provide meaning and happiness in each area of one’s life.

Another thing I liked about Coleman’s book are the numerous exercises he included to allow the reader the chance and space to put to work the concepts which he discusses. Whether someone is fresh out of high school or college or already somewhat (or even mostly) established in their chosen career field, I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit from Coleman’s wisdom.

Whether someone is fresh out of high school or college or already somewhat (or even mostly) established in their chosen career field, I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit from Coleman’s wisdom.

The HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose was released by Harvard Business Review Press on January 11th, 2022 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.