October 23, 2013


It’s been well over 10 years but I still remember the scene quite well. We were all seated around the conference room table updating the president of the company with the state of various projects that were underway. It was my turn to speak and I was just preparing to give my pitch about moving from Windows Me to Linux when I was interrupted.

“Before you get started, I’d like you to give me a list of the usernames and associated passwords for every employee’s account by the end of the day today”, the owner of the company declared.

I didn’t even need a full second to formulate my reply. I simply stated, in a calm and confident voice, “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to provide you with that information.”

All eyes around the table were on me. I think someone might have groaned or coughed. There was a guttural noise coming from somewhere and I was pretty sure that it had nothing to do with the Chinese food I had eaten earlier. That would have been embarrassing.

“I don’t think you understand, I want the username and password of every account on my desk by the end of the day”. I could see the fire building in his eyes.

“Oh I fully understand that request and I’m sorry but I’m not going to provide that information.” I believe I was clear in my initial reply.

Before an explosion ensued I added on, “and I’m willing to discuss this afterwards in a private meeting if you wish.”

Contrary to folklore, that is not the day of the Huge Explosion at that job in which I resolved to find a new opportunity as soon as possible. The discussion was heated, but once I explained my point of view, the matter was settled.

As children we are taught that we are all unique individuals and that our uniqueness should be celebrated. Some of us are more unique than others and while I believe we all have to conform to social standards in some way, I do not believe that any person, employee or situation can be controlled by some random, blanket edict. That’s just bad management. That’s just being lazy. And when I sense that is going on, I get rebellious. Very rebellious.

Now, I don’t waste my rebellion on stupid stuff. If the sign says “wet paint”, I don’t need to touch the wall to see if it’s true or not. If there are workers on the road and the speed limit is ramped down for their safety, I get that and I comply. But if there’s just a line of cones for miles with no workers in sight and the speed limit is ramped down to something idiotically slow, I might ignore that a bit, unless there’s a cop around.

In order for us to thrive in our jobs and be as beneficial as possible to our employer, I think it’s important that management try to highlight the positive traits in their employees within an established realm of guidelines. This may occasionally require some thought and this will probably result in some being treated differently than others. It could also make for some uncomfortable discussions as to why Person A can do one thing but Person B can’t really do that. Making blanket requests (“I want to access to everyone’s computer because I think only Joe Perv is looking at inappropriate stuff”) is not the way to go and when I see this sort of thing is when my rebellious streak really kicks in.

Some might find it hard to believe that one who strives to always be at the top of his game and the star player on the team would have a rebellious side to him. Maybe I just have an issue with authority. Whatever the reason, I know that who am I is what provides the fuel that fires me up to do what I strive do in the first place.