Dances with bosses

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By Robert L. Domoguen

Mountain Light

Monday, January 6, 2014


IMAGINE yourself exiled to a remote outpost beyond reach of civilization and all you got, as a regular visitor is a wolf.

Now that line looks familiar to those who saw the epic western movie, "Dances with wolves," starring Kevin Costner. I like the movie in the sense that under any circumstance, it is a person’s duty to live well. Fate takes care of the rest surely.

Imagine yourself now well entrenched in the city, marooned in an office and working with a “wolf.” I mean a stern boss, whose image you hate or fear. What would you do? Curse and walk away in defeat or endure. Deal with a boss like that, I mean any of the three given alternatives above (curse, walk away or endure), and nail your life to a cross. That is no solution and unresolved issues of the heart are recurring nightmares.

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I am some kind of a boss myself but the truth is, even at this state, I am under authority still. All my personal, professional or working life has been and will always be under authority. Any person’s life is accountable to higher authority and that includes the rulers of the land.

I worked and lived with many bosses (wolves) and danced with them. As Kevin Costner did in the movie (if the wolf is all you got that connects you to your job and life), that boss’ heart certainly needs some figuring job. In my case, the exercise informed me where a wolf stands when things get rough, and when we need to confront each other about work that was poorly done or undone. I knew where the wolf (boss) stand on issues and concerns of importance to individual honour and survival, along with those that pertains to our offices, team and agency, and what these mean to us. In these instances, a wolf so noticed is truly important.

A good wolf and I mean that because there are really bad ones are hated and feared. In the end, their images get transformed like angels and loved. The bad ones reap shame. The wolf’s power and how it is exercised, affects the lives of people under its realm for a long time and in many ways. That, my friend, is important.

No matter how one looks at power and authority, it hovers and influences us whether we are rebels or subjects to its exercise. In either case, the more important question to me is how we adapt and live well under any circumstance we are in under its sphere of influence. I got that figured out under authority and being one who wields it too now as a family man, in the organizations that I had the opportunity to serve, and as a unit head in the agency I work with. It is part of any person’s life, born monarch or otherwise.

Focusing on my professional life, the first person who really got me to a good start was a gangly, tall, soft-spoken, silent and handsome man. Being a man of science, vision and management with a conscience for the “small guys,” he had influenced my career and touched me deeply. He employed me twice. The first time was in a research agency at Benguet State University and the second one was in another agricultural research bureau in Quezon City.

I can say this now looking at how this wolf first hired me as a government employee without credentials. He looks so kind in demeanour but in both agencies where we worked, he has feathered me intensely. I reacted to this treatment twice by handing to him my resignation letters. In those instances, I felt so frustrated and inadequate to measure up to his expectations and the work he keep sending to me. If I learned his heart and kind of dance, it was about challenge and keeping your complaint to yourself and him. In those instances, when I resigned, he had sustained me, stepped up the challenge, and I delivered and survived. Truth is I ran away in the end but today, those experiences I had in the realm of his influence were to be treasured among the best this life have had.

I can narrate how I encountered courage, innovativeness, sacrifice and those good qualities associated with leadership dancing among the wolves of my life. Thinking about my time with them wolves, I had many a bitter moments. Still they had the authority and power and one under it must respect those wielding it. I thank God for that one element I learned earlier with the first wolf. “Think deep. Unless you had a better alternative, and you must consider that, stick with the game and what you got.” Second, unless you have reached that feeling of inadequacy and frustration before a challenge, you have not really done much to do the job with the best you got and conquer your weaknesses. So don’t give up with a good wolf and go through life like a parasite.

What better alternative would one conjure but to experience the authority you are in indeed. A weak and a strong boss, if you live your life well contribute to vision and experiencing it is the best way to gain or have authority and power or exercised it to benefit people.
At bottom, many want the world to take care of them. That was not how my first wolf saw leadership amd its light. He may have considered that care-seeking people, once up the ladder will expect the world to continue taking good care of them. In all strata of the society, we need more people who care and less of those who expect to be cared for, most of the time, anytime, anywhere.

Kevin Costner as John Dunbar, in the movie is a leader and dubbed a hero after he accidentally leads Union troops to a victory during the Civil War.

Now there is magic in being patient with the dance of the wolves, in gaining experience and wisdom from them. For as long as one is physically able, there is great benefit too with stress, adversity and challenge with a good cause among the wolves. The message encourages us to get experience and become leaders. In the end that job attachment to a name is far greater than a B.S, M.S. Atty, or a Ph.D.

If dancing with wolves are that good, we can tackle swimming with crocodiles and living with parasites next time around. Here is wishing our readers a Happy and Blessed New Year.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 07, 2014.

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