“Try to act as saints and sages. Let your ego go and let your sainthood prevail. Calamities are nothing but challenges, challenges are nothing but a wakening call to improve our being, and improved being is nothing but God’s own self in us.” -Yogi Bhajan.
The last few days have been fraught with one challenge after another, calamity upon calamity, at least as far as I was concerned. My mom ’n pop marijuana delivery service has been undergoing quite a transformation in the last few months. One of the more fundamental changes is that we now have a full staff working with us instead of my partner Josh and I doing everything by ourselves. In the beginning this was a dream come true and brought with it relief and more free time. As the weeks went on it became more difficult to find reliable drivers and we had speedy turn over in the ranks, expect for a few loyal and capable gems that have done nothing but impress. Trying to get the last few shifts filled was starting to seem impossible, so I started feeling a little bit desperate.
Because of my desperation I overlooked it when one of our more flakey drivers, let’s call him The Flake “forgot to show up” for work two weeks ago. I didn’t like it but I figured I’d rather have him work some days than not have him at all. I was desperate after all. Then last week he blew off his shift again. Still my desperation was ruling my decision-making so I wrote an email explaining that he couldn’t do that again or I’d have to let him go. I would rather keep him on, but he would have to start being reliable. Then this past week he didn’t show up for his shift for a third time, without any notice at all. I had warned him to have more respect for the job and those who have to pick up his slack when he does this, but here he was, shirking his responsibilities again. So I finally ignored my desperate fear and followed the tug from my gut; I fired The Flake.
It’s funny, as a devoted fan of Melrose Place years ago I spent time when I was young dreaming about what fun it would be to fire someone. I pictured myself, a male version of Heather Locklear, in my power suit, passing out pink slips and one-liners with relish and ease. I was the star, and I had power. But in truth it’s not like that at all. Firing a person is not as pleasant or exciting as old 90’s soap operas would lead you to believe. It feels yucky. I don’t know quite how else to describe it. It wasn’t wrong or bad to fire The Flake, in truth he had to go. But there was no relish, no ease. I only want my business to run smoothly and I would have preferred to have a different outcome where The Flake learned responsibility and we hug and cry and learn and grow, and yadda yadda. But it didn’t happen that way. For the good of the company I had to let him go. It was the right decision as evidenced by the wave of relief that hit me when the deed was done. But it left a mark on my soul that lasted throughout my day.
I felt disrespected. I felt used. I didn’t feel powerful and I had no one-liner. Firing The Flake today had actually put my fire out. All I had was my company and my desire to see it succeed, and this guy was flying in the face of that. It’s hard for me to understand how someone could do this after being given an opportunity when they needed it. But I realize I don’t need to understand. His lack of competence has nothing to do with me so why was I taking it so personally? I am relatively new to this whole “being the boss” thing; it presents me with a whole new set of challenges, both in terms of paper work and people work. In this business it’s not like we can take out a craigslist ad. We have to trust the people we hire so we need to work with friends and friends of friends, and I was feeling like we had tapped those resources out. Desperation was seeping back in. I had fired him without any plan for covering the shifts whatsoever.
I won’t go so far as to say firing The Flake was in divine order, but it certainly was a relief and it brought more order to my life. I realized I would rather take on the shifts myself than schedule someone and make plans, only to have to break plans when they decide to be a flake. I am not desperate anymore, I am empowered. I began to understand this was the universe’s version of a training camp. I am learning to hone my skills and build a thicker skin. As my success continues to increase, so too will my work force, and I am not going to have the luxury of feeling wounded every time some flake doesn’t do what he is supposed to do. As this new revelation dawned on me the heavy energy I’d been carrying throughout the day began to dissipate. The clouds parted, so to speak, and almost instantaneously a thought flashed through my mind: there were two perfect candidates for the job who I knew from my daily mornings spent writing at Starbucks. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of them before.
I fired The Flake because I felt the tug, and I’ve learned to follow those tugs. Almost as if on a schedule the universe went from feeling confusing and desperate to feeling peaceful and sending me ideas. I asked the first of my two new recruits if she was interested in the job. She accepted. I then mentioned to her that I had a second position open and was thinking about asking another barista. Before I could finish my sentence she interrupted to suggest the very same person I was going to inquire about. And then she informs me that they are actually dating. I don’t know why it surprises me that things can work out so perfectly when that consistently seems to happen around me now since my gazing quest began. I guess it’s time I really start to trust the universe, and live in the present moment, at peace. I replaced The Flake with two new drivers, the universe answers in abundance again. Even when it looks like things are going wrong, they are, as Yogi Bhajan would say “wakening calls to improve my being.” Well thanks Universe, I’m feeling better already.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” -Lao Tzu
SIDE EFFECTS: Shit can still go very very wrong.
BENEFITS: It turns out that when shit does go wrong it’s the universe giving us the gift of an opportunity to self-improve. So in a way, nothing can ever go wrong again, and that feels pretty damn cool.