Day 16:

I woke up in a horrid mood this morning. Absolutely horrible. Reflecting on some of my weight goals last night apparently spiraled into something of a defeatist place. I think at some point or another we've all done that. I was reflecting on my job - it's a good job, but it's not what I thought I would be doing at my age. I don't think I'm as far along as I could be in my career thus far. Quite honestly, I always thought that I would be teaching at a university somewhere by now, or well along my way finishing my Ph.D in order to do that. A co-worker commented jokingly in a meeting yesterday that I had turned into Mr. Corporate. This struck a chord with me, as I recall growing up that I would never become that guy - The guy comic books are written about with the Pointy Haired Boss (PHB). In fact, I used to rebel against this institution. However, here I am, doing my best to do my job and not become the quintessential hated boss, and actually make a difference somehow.

It was super smoggy this morning, and also looked like it was going to rain. I opted to take a taxi this morning. I waited in line for about 20 minutes waiting for said taxi (I could have walked to work faster), and got in. Told the driver where I was heading, and the dialog went like this.

Driver: Where are you heading? Me: Enterprise Center. Driver: You don't mean the USS Enterprise, do you? Me: What? Driver: <Laughs>. You need to smile, man! Trying to make a joke? Me: It's that bad, eh? You can see it on my face? Driver: Yeah. It's good to smile in the morning. You usually wake up and think about all the bad things. You should try that more often.

Wow.

Needless to say, my attitude changed dramatically after that interaction. The taxi driver told me about his life thus far - 30 years working at a company here in Manila, and then he retired and became a farmer. The best part of the ride came next.

Driver: I bought all the books there were to buy about farming to learn how to do it. I studied each book heavily, intent on learning how to be a great farmer. However, the books never told you how not to become an alcoholic. Me: <laughing> what? Driver: Nobody tells you how incredibly boring farming is! I mean, shit man! You turn into a stone! How fun is it waiting for a pig to eat? Forget that! Instead, I got a taxi, and get to meet a bunch of people every day. It's pretty cool.

I'm thinking about the transaction, and even now smiling. I mean, I've written continually over the last two weeks about a difference in my own perspective, and here is yet another example slamming me in the face.

My three day training program happened to go a whole two days - we finished an entire day early. A lot of my training was built into the concept that there will be a lot of dialog, questions, discussions, etc. However, what I got was silence. Just absolute silence. It's not because I didn't try. We had learning activities, we had discussion topics, I even called on people directly. I just got shy nods and smiles for most people. Naturally, I'm a little taken aback by this, and so I asked the question. What I received wasn't surprising.

It's cultural.

People aren't going to give feedback (positive or negative) in such a direct way that Americans ask for it. In fact, they're just going to make notes, sit there, and over time I'll get feedback indirectly via people that they trust (direct managers) versus me directly. In their eyes, if they provide any feedback to me, the boss of their boss, then that would be supremely taboo. I tried having my managers lead the discussion for parts of the conversation, only to get the same response. Just like they wouldn't give feedback (positive or negative) to me, boss of boss - the same rule applies for the boss as well.

The only thing that I can do at this point is to have them run through various scenarios over the next few weeks to determine if they retain. I'm cautiously optimistic that this will work - given this is my first rodeo in this arena, I can only hope and do my best to try to manage the situation as I know how. The problem is, I'm learning how to do that as I go. It's an interesting situation, to say the least.