What It’s Like To Work In News

Thanks to Keith Miles for this photo of me, which he took at the city's kickoff for its 35-year planning process.

Thanks to Keith Miles for this photo of me, which he took at the city’s kickoff for its 35-year planning process.

When I was a reporter in The Tennessean’s Williamson County office, one of the things I could count on was a daily phone call from a cranky but hilarious school board member who absolutely loved to gossip about his fellow board members and make outlandishly inflammatory accusations of school administrators.

These calls were frequently conducted from his bathtub and often he’d be smoking at the same time. I know this because I could hear the splashing and exhaling. Also, because I asked him. If a man is naked when he calls, it’s best to know it up front.

Anyway, this guy is on a long list of characters I’ve been graced to know because of what I do for a living.

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Being The Boss

I was a reporter in a newspaper bureau, covering the county school system and writing stories about things like dress codes, standardized test scores and school board politics.

I enjoyed it but grew bored after a couple of years. I was pretty sure I wanted to be an editor. Or, more specifically, in charge.

When one of the designers in the office built an internal website for employees to get to know each other better, she had us fill out a survey that included our plans for the future.

I answered, “The boss of you.” Continue reading

18 Lessons From The Workplace

Image courtesy of Less Cake, More Frosting.

Image courtesy of Less Cake, More Frosting

Some hard lessons I continue to learn in the workplace that have made me a better coworker, employee, boss, leader and human being.

In no particular order:

1. Acting on assumptions will get you in trouble at least 50 percent of the time. That is a gamble you wouldn’t make if it involved money, your home, or people you loved. When you don’t know something, ask until you do, or decide to let it go.

2. Look for facts as well as opinions. Facts will help you know what decisions to make. Opinions will help you communicate them.

3. Age is not correlated to wisdom. Youth is not synonymous with fresh ideas. People of all ages are capable of insight and creativity. Just as people of all ages may all become beleaguered with small mindedness and bitterness.

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All The Other Things I Am

I was recently divorced and figuring out how to date, and not doing either of those things well. I was no one’s wife. No one’s girlfriend. Someone’s so-so Friday evening. I made a list of all the other things I am.

I am Lily’s mom. Jim and Kathy’s daughter. Andy’s ex-wife, yes, but also his friend.

I was wrapped up in my head and had a hard time communicating anything other than “I’m sad. I’m lonely. I’m small.” After a while, writers block ruined those topics, too. I put writing aside and did all the other things I love.

I ran. I biked. I gardened. I read. I spent incredible times with wonderful friends.

With one such friend, I lost my temper and lashed out unfairly. I was defensive and reactionary.

Alas, I also was passionate. Apologetic. Forgiving and – guess what – forgiven.

A change at work left me scared and uncertain. I heard from many people who reassured me. They said:

You will rock this. You are strong. You are fabulous at whatever you do. I am your fan.

All the times I flounder at the one thing,
I try my damnedest to remember all the things.

I am optimistic. I am grateful. I am loved. I am me.