Thursday, May 15, 2014

What Kind of Boss Am I? by Alison Henderson

This month we're talking about Horrible Bosses. I don't think I've ever had a horrible boss - lazy, yes; ineffectual, certainly - but not horrible. To me horrible implies mean, arbitrary, or unethical. I was lucky enough never to have to work for someone like that.

Over the years, I had a couple of wonderful bosses, mentors who taught me more than they will ever know. When my turn came to be in charge, I knew that's the kind of boss I wanted to be. I spent the last eighteen years of my business career as the V.P. of Underwriting and New Business at a large insurance brokerage, where I managed a support staff of 15-20 clerks and specialists. My favorite part of the job was training and mentoring, and I hope I made a difference in several young lives. My greatest professional satisfaction upon retirement was turning over the reins to a woman I had hired right out of college and "raised" in the business for fifteen years, knowing she was fully prepared to meet the challenges she would face.

But now that I'm a full-time writer, I'm my own boss. So what kind of boss am I? Too lenient, I think. I know I could be much more prolific if I made myself stick to a strict writing schedule, if I created business plans and specific goals and worked toward them with the steady tenacity I applied to my first four books. But I haven't done that, and I have to ask myself why. 

One reason is burnout. The last year of my business career was difficult and left me exhausted and traumatized. I needed to give myself time to recover. Then we moved across the country and undertook a huge renovation project. More stress. My husband's health suffered and mine along with it. We've been in the house for a month now, and I'm finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. For me, that light is a rekindled interest in starting a new writing project. I may not be a tough enough boss to crack the whip and set myself deadlines, but I'm happy to feel the spark of creative energy again. It's been too long. 



Margo Hoornstra said...

Welcome back to the writing world, Alison. Glad your enthusiasm returned. Good luck with this next project.

Jannine Gallant said...

I quit writing from the time my second daughter was born until she headed off to Kindergarten. I just couldn't work up any enthusiasm for it with the constant demands on my time. Your demands were different but just as, well, demanding! Glad everything is settling down so you have the motivation to get back at it.

Liz Flaherty said...

Glad you're "back on the horse," Alison. It's harder now, with compromised energy levels, isn't it?

Alison Henderson said...

Margo, it does feel good to be back, although I'm still having trouble getting "back in the saddle."

Jannine, I've taken long breaks from writing in the past, but this was different. With UNWRITTEN RULES, I finally felt like I had some momentum going. It's frustrating knowing I have only myself to blame for not taking full advantage of it.

Liz, you're right - it is harder now, in many ways. Writing is actually kind of a slog at the moment. The words just aren't flowing. I think I let myself get too rusty.

Leah St. James said...

Everybody needs a break now and then, and it sounds like you've had more than your share of stress! So glad to hear you're feeling up to writing again. :-)

Alicia Dean said...

It sounds like you were an excellent boss, Allison. But, I'm with you about being too lenient of a 'writing' boss. I do not produce like I should at all. If you feel rusty, then maybe you do just need a break. Hope the juices start flowing soon!

Diane Burton said...

I loved the mentoring part when I was a "boss" (not really) of Girl Scout adults. I loved sharing what I learned and encouraging newbies--'cause I was one too, once upon a time. I'm glad you were able to retire to write full time, despite the move and your husband's health issues. Great post.