My Fatal Flaw

Through the years, I have found out that I’m really good at one thing: choosing the most complicated and difficult path.

As much as I fight it, I have discovered ‘simple’ just doesn’t work for me. I have to be in the most complex of relationships, the dirtiest and hardest of jobs (try taking on the brain and legwork of 20 men all by yourself), and the craziest compartmentalization of online personas.

I managed to get myself out of being the first “company doormat” (yes, I have the sash to prove it) and get a normal Tues-Sat job to work with 19 other teammates, yet I managed to get myself to be the boss of that team because that so-called team was dissolved, thus I had to take on all their jobs, compress it into something physically doable in a daily 16-hr shift and still get to have a fresh change of clothes everyday.

Then when the offer for a promotion was handed to me in a silver platter, I took three whole months to decide to take it because I didn’t like to leave my comfort zone of dodging bullets (aka Weekly Ops Briefings where snarling and growling is the main means of communication between top honchos from Chandigarh, New Delhi, Texas, Ottawa, and [yours truly… but, uh no, not top honcho] the Philippines take place. All those 6-foot dudes in suits used to raise an eyebrow at me and I’d whimper in one corner, but I kinda got the hang of the scowling after a few times of peeing in my pants. TIP: Raising your voice higher than theirs and looking like your ref just ran out of chilled blood and choice meats gets them to listen).  Anyhow, the promotion would allow me to handle less malevolent creatures (aka rank and file) and would get me to work in a team again (aka people who can actually help me do my work).

After grudgingly accepting the offer, I saw how easy my new job was — so easy that I found more and more stuff to work on coz my normal job description was just too insulting easy after coming from a war-torn land (aka running a semi-dissolved dept on my own, getting the guy up there not to close us [me] down for good, and actually turning the tides so much that whoever was up there decided our [my] contribution was invaluable and started to hire more me’s (well, in a different branch). Oh, and part of the out-of-this-world strides I took to changing the face of our [my] dept was changing our [my] job title itself which eventually caught on with the other sites. (I somewhat did that as a part of test if I could actually leave an imprint/signature/legacy. Well, I’ll be damned…) Oh, oh, and add to that, the reason why the next me’s started getting issued company laptops is, once more, due to yours truly.

But I digress. Back to the new and easy job. I found more and more stuff to improve (efficiency and timeliness of reporting for one), and problems to fix (a sales floor that’s as lively as a mortuary, marred lines of communication between frontline and support from which I am both part of, redefining the role of my team so we add more value to the company).

I recently read a novel where a main character’s fatal flaw was hubris — overconfident pride and arrogance, thinking she could achieve/fix anything. I, too, am guilty of that flaw. I heaped my plate once more with too much work, I started to focus more on the extra-curricular than on the real and supposedly easy tasks. Long story short, my daily change of clothes before while manning a one-person dept became an every-other-day change of clothes since I started to even not have enough time to go home. (Ok fine, I just bought new clothes if I failed to bring some spares.) I wasn’t sure whether I like what I was doing or not. All I know is I like knowing people needed me.

Then he came into my life. Like a breath of fresh air, I found reason to love staying in the office hours before and after my supposed shift ended. And after he won my confidence, he was able to convince me that I hate my job. Like a brainless puppet I asked myself “I hate my job? Well, he’s right in everything so far, so I guess he’s right again. I really hate my job.” (Of course the whole brainwashing process panned out for a couple of months before I actually really believed it.)

After I put all that responsibility and tasks on myself, I dropped them like hot potatoes at his command.

He got me to stop going to work on time. Then he got me to go to work at his schedule, not mine. Then he got me to stop going to work at all — missed all the important meetings where my decision was needed one time too many, left my team (which I was already leading) in disarray, caused a whole lot of chaos when the “keeper of keys” (the only person who knows how to fix the newly programmed reporting mechanism she created, the main contact person of the other sites in other countries, the sales trainer for new hires, the interviewer of new coach-to-be’s…I can still go on but you get my drift…) went missing.

Needless to say, the reputation I worked so hard to obtain went up in smoke overnight.

What can I say? I knew how invaluable I was so I knew I can’t get the boot. Hubris. I knew I can just stride in to all that chaos and with the flick of my hand everything will be back to normal. Hubris.

I’ll postpone going into the murkier and nastier details which finally led to my downfall. Point is, I once more had to turn the already-difficult into tasks closer to impossible to achieve.

Did I give up? No. Me and my big fat ego.

Instead of surrendering, I tried my best to make it right with all the people affected by the sudden emergence of Ms. Hyde after years of magnificent performance from Ms. Jekyll. I wasn’t able to mend the broken bridges, but at least I was able to douse the fires caused by my 6-month rampage.

The big guy (aka my boss’ boss) did not wish to lose hope in me. He offered me a ticket to redeem myself: my next promotion. Of course, I would have to apply for it for formality’s sake. If I get the post, that would put me at par with my current boss. What in heaven’s name did I do to deserve such luck?… And what did heaven do to deserve such a screwup as myself?

What did I do? I applied for the job thinking I’ll decide whether to get it or not when the verdict actually arrives. I wasn’t too hot about the new role but, once more, I believed I can do it. Hubris.

While they were debating to actually finalize getting me or not since I turned out to be such a wild card, I managed to screw up once more. Oh yeah, due to him again.

I have never gotten manhandled until the day the big guy literally dragged me by the arm into a room, slammed the door, and faced me red in the face. I got too used to screwing up in such a short span of time I just looked dazed as I asked him “Uhm, yes?” “What are you doing?!?! I put my name on the line for you!! And then you do this?!, he yelled. I admit I had to rack my brain to realize what I did, but my answer now was no longer as heartfelt as my many previous pleadings. “‘M sorry. Won’t happen again.” I felt like a drugged-up, juvenile delinquent. I was one step away from incarceration.

After making me swear to “sober up” he let me go. A few days later, I got a call from another of the bosses demanding to know where I was. I scampered to the office wearing a terrible change of borrowed clothes. I committed the same thing I promised not to do, again… and the big guy was there to witness it first hand. Why? Because he, together with the other bosses, was waiting for me to shake my hand and congratulate me in getting the promotion that almost caused us both our asses.

With a slightly harder pat on the back, the big guy wished me well in my new role. I wondered how many minutes it would take me to make another error. I got congratulations from left and right but I could hardly manage to smile.

I went home to him and cried myself to sleep. I knew I just signed my own death certificate upon taking that new job. Yeah, I said I’ll decide when the verdict arrived, but the last thing I expected was a battalion of bosses cheering me on. I was a complete mess and taking on a more challenging and responsibility-packed role was the last thing I needed. I wanted to pass my resignation in the morning.

He managed to make me feel better by waking me up the next day with a complete new outfit to start my new role. That tided me over for a bit. There were too many people waiting to see if I can weave my old magic again, and more people expecting to see me fall yet again.

I did pretty well the first couple of months… until something cracked in me again. The cause came from all directions, and as unstable as I still was, I broke. I simply let go. Everyone knew it. I drifted too far away I was out of arms’ reach for saving. I knew I had to throw in the towel or more people would suffer from my actions, or inaction. I filed for resignation. Game Over.

After a year of solitude and hiding from the world, opportunity knocked at my door a couple of times again, extending me new chances. I didn’t heed the call. I didn’t think I was fixed yet. All the pride in me died together with my reputation that I no longer know if I can do anything.

But somehow, people seem to keep blind faith in me and think I can still be a rockstar.

Eve of New Year, a boss from another previous company contacted me and told me he’s serious and that his offer two months ago still stood. In his words “I get first dibs when you finally decide to return.” Ah, such confidence in one little, screwup me. If he only knew. I jokingly said “Well, if the crazy job pays well, why not?” Then he told me the position. My eyes lit up like a slot machine that hit the jackpot.

..then he told me the company. My worst fears came to life. It’s the company most of my previous colleagues and bosses transferred to — the people I have been avoiding like the plague the whole 2010.

Knowing the company and knowing the position, I could make my first million in two years in just savings. Yet, knowing the company and knowing the position, I will come close to dying just learning the ropes because I admit still I do not have enough skill sets, maturity, and savvy to be a senior manager handling other managers. With hubris I used to have the confidence to say yes to impossible tasks as this and move up the ladder of success… but also due to hubris I met my undoing.

Will my arrogance make or break me this time once more?

Will I dust myself off and say “Bring it on!” or will it be the mature and realistic way to bow out and admit I’m not yet ready for this after what I’ve been through?

Wouldn’t it be “me” to choose the easy path this time? Is “difficult” is the one thing that defines me?


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