31 Thank Yous: Boss Who Never Knew My Name

Each day in August I’m saying “thank you” to one person/place/thing that’s helped define who I am and where I am today. I’m encouraging each of you to participate on your own blog. and if you’re the hashtag type, we’re using #31ty on Twitter.

Dear Boss Who Never Knew My Name,

It’s Matt! You remember, that guy that worked for you for a while a few years back? No? Don’t remember? I can’t say I’m surprised.

First of all, thank you. Thank you for giving me my first full-time career out of college. When I graduated, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and at the time, I was happy just to have a job in my field that paid the rent (although just barely).

You presented me with a great opportunity – an opportunity to learn what I wanted to do – and more importantly, what I didn’t.

But this letter isn’t about the day to day negotiations or office politics. It’s about one event that I’ve remembered vividly over the past few years.

During my six-month review (you remember, the one where you gave me a $1,000 raise, which, after taxes, equated to a couple extra bucks per check), you told me something that’s stuck with me ever since. When I asked what I could improve, you responded, “You’re doing a great job, but sometimes you act like you know more than your superiors – and we need people who will fit into our system and do exactly what is asked of them”.

You wanted a working a bee – a cog in the system that would do what they were told. You didn’t want opinion. You didn’t want creativity. You weren’t interested in trying a different approach to get the job done. You believed the tried and true system the company had in place for years and years was the only way to go and that someone as young as I was couldn’t possibly improve results.

It was this conversation that spring-boarded me toward where I am today. It inspired me – someone desperate for a creative outlet – to start this blog and start sharing my thoughts with people who cared (and those who didn’t).

It was that conversation that gave me the courage to turn in my notice. And it was that conversation that was repeated time and time again over a year later, when I made the decision to work for myself.

And here I am, developing my own processes and methods while leaving room for creativity in everything I do and embracing that they’re are many ways to get things done.

But most importantly, you’ve helped to keep me grounded. Our conversation serves as a reminder that I don’t know everything, and that claiming I do closes the door to a world of learning opportunities.

So thank you, boss who never really knew my name. I came and went and was undoubtedly replaced soon after. But without our time together and what it taught my about myself, I wouldn’t be where I am today.


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