By: Susan Lachmann
This is a short story about challenges and overcoming obstacles written by an outstanding business woman. Portions of my story are, unfortunately, all too common. Take heart, Dear Readers, for in the end you will find that old business transforms into new business in the continuing evolution of the business-world .
I was busy minding my own business one day in my crowded little office cubicle when suddenly my boss appeared. Extending her arm full length, she delivered this memo: “It has come to my attention that you have borrowed money from one, possibly more, student(s) and that you have not paid it back. This violates professional boundaries. This kind of behavior is inappropriate. You are instructed to pay back students(s) from whom you have borrowed money immediately. This memorandum constitutes a formal verbal warning. Continued violations of this nature will result in further disciplinary action per our policy.”
Apply the word “stunned” here. Hesitating, I felt my heart racing as I shook my head, trying to clarify the words. I was expected to sign the document. Again, I hesitated. Beneath the signature line were the words, “Acknowledgment of Receipt.” Very strange: accusation(s) followed by directives, yet lacking in information while declaring formal disciplinary action with a promise (threat?) of further action. I had to decide: would I: a) comply or, b) not comply? What would you do?
Launching into a lengthy dissertation about the business of institutional hierarchies, bullying in the workplace, and illuminating legal parameters would suit here, but I’ll cut to the chase. I created the option to accommodate with comment when I signed and noted: “Received, but have no understanding of this. I will get information, so that this can be rectified. I am very suspicious about this communication.” Several weeks of memos and investigations ultimately discredited not only the content, but the people who concocted the story.
My story, however, did not happily end there but continued with extreme anxiety caused by bullying, betrayal, and attempts to dismiss and discredit. If I had a nickel for every sleepless night, I wouldn’t be worrying about medical bills right now.
Untangling the distorted actions and inactions, resolving the conflicts, and understanding what happened continues to be an ongoing process. Also, I remain stymied by the question: How do I forgive someone who isn’t even sorry?
Now, Dear Readers, comes my jumping-off place where I raise the stakes and move the story beyond anticipated results. Recognizing that it is my responsibility to remain happy, healthy, productive, authentic, and engaged, I changed the outcome.
Drawing on every skill set and applying elements of life-long learning, I fulfilled a need in the community and in the marketplace: created my new business, Sound Learning Smart Shops. In experiential meetings, I facilitate activities designed to improve interpersonal and intrapersonal collaborations and communications. My process-oriented approach involves considerable reflection. Thus far, the content, influenced by Quaker teachings in Creative Conflict Resolution for Children (CCRC), has been well received. Bank tellers, program directors, entrepreneurs, and teachers are grateful for the opportunity to practice resolving business conflicts.
Best of all, my business is a wholehearted investment in progress, supported by my study, practice and experience. .
MORAL OF MY STORY: Outstanding women can, with patient tenacity and clear intention, create transformation by minding their own business.
Susan Lachmann is a working Artist in Education based in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Also known as Host and Producer of Women on Air radio broadcast, she enjoys promoting creativity in a variety of formats.