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Old 09-05-2008, 11:53 AM   #81
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Thank you, P.S., for the compliment. If only my students cared a little about writing, too.

Shawn: I’d probably have just the same mixed feelings as I do today, though I suspect the dismay would fade into relief over time.

Rich: For me, leaving would be an irrevocable and permanent decision to retire. I do not believe I’d work again in any sort of position unless I was forced to out of sheer hunger, etc.

Sue: Thank you for your insights and expressions of understanding. Shall I presume you are or were an academic yourself?

Milton: It’s not that I require an artificial structure, it’s that the job provides opportunities that are difficult to realize given purely-personal resources. For example, I mentioned a “space shuttle ride” (not literally) sort of possibility that may be coming up for me at work. It wouldn’t be impossible to do something like it on my own, but it would be far, far more difficult and extremely expensive (as well as self-indulgent without more than a merely personal goal at its core). That, and the possibilities to travel on the job, to have an impact on the next generation, etc., make staying tempting if not bearable.

One of your points is that any job-related B.S. is too much B.S., and that any self-actualizing individual with the basic means and balls to retire early would therefore do so. I’m most of the way there with you, but some B.S. may be worth putting up with if the job offers some unique benefits.

All: The biggest problem I face at work is not routine politics and paperwork, it’s the crushing blow to my naïve view of academia that I’ve suffered. These views were darned important to me, and their passing has been a tremendous loss. Through foolishly-noble and romantic intent, I’ve invested so much based on these views. Though I can’t regain my naïveté, and I can’t reform the system nor can I “win” against it, I yearn for a way to move forward with a clear new path. Without that, my own integrity must to do futile daily battle against a stiff and cold head-wind.

Of course, if I can’t resolve this dilemma, I count myself fortunate in that I can make early retirement my “clear new path.”
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Old 09-05-2008, 12:05 PM   #82
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One of your points is that any job-related B.S. is too much B.S., and that any self-actualizing individual with the basic means and balls to retire early would therefore do so.
Some forum members never tire of proclaiming this rather self congratulatory POV.
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All: The biggest problem I face at work is not routine politics and paperwork, it’s the crushing blow to my naïve view of academia that I’ve suffered. These views were darned important to me, and their passing has been a tremendous loss. Through foolishly-noble and romantic intent, I’ve invested so much based on these views. Though I can’t regain my naïveté, and I can’t reform the system nor can I “win” against it, I yearn for a way to move forward with a clear new path. Without that, my own integrity must to do futile daily battle against a stiff and cold head-wind.
I would try therapy. It sounds as if you are having a late onset adolescent crisis.

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Old 09-05-2008, 12:51 PM   #83
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Ha: No, I'm not. Ideals still matter in adulthood, and indeed, they matter even more, since one then hopefully has the strength and opportunity to do something about them.
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Old 09-05-2008, 01:30 PM   #84
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Rich: For me, leaving would be an irrevocable and permanent decision to retire. I do not believe I’d work again in any sort of position unless I was forced to out of sheer hunger, etc..
Well, they're your rules, but "irrevocable and permanent" seem pretty constraining and self-defeating to me so early in the game. Why arbitrarily rule out any future possibilities just because you're bruised now? It'll pass.

I'm confident there's much more to this whole situation than you're comfortable airing here (totally understandably, if so). Somehow the pieces just aren't quite fitting together for me, but that's not what matters.

Take it easy on yourself, Grep. Hope it all works out.
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Old 09-05-2008, 04:12 PM   #85
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Ha: No, I'm not. Ideals still matter in adulthood, and indeed, they matter even more, since one then hopefully has the strength and opportunity to do something about them.
OK Chief, proceed!

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Old 09-08-2008, 10:46 AM   #86
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One of your points is that any job-related B.S. is too much B.S.
Yes, I do believe that.

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and that any self-actualizing individual with the basic means and balls to retire early would therefore do so.
No, I realize that human beings are not computers and that life is rather more subtle that that. However, if one finds the work environment to be so inhospitable that he or she feels compelled to complain about it at length, it is probably time to pull the plug.
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Old 09-08-2008, 11:21 PM   #87
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There's nothing wrong with bitching. Talking about it is how you figure out what you need to do, whether it is stay at a job you really do like but aren't thrilled about every little aspect. Is anyone 100% thrilled about everything? or anything? There's nothing wrong with that - nothing wrong with sticking with it if everything isn't 100% perfect. Nothing wrong with doing it for purely monetary purposes, or because there is still something you want to achieve there. Nothing wrong with quitting if you are really sure you want to (or retiring).
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:39 AM   #88
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Grep,

I'm late to this, however, I worked briefly in research and academia right after receiving my masters degree and it was the most cut-throat environments I've ever worked in - and I've been in the military, in the healthcare industry, done restaurant work....so I can understand that your supposed naivete has shocked you. I know it did me - I thought that it would be a more nuturing environment.

In any case, you know best what you should do. I think this exercise with this board will probably help with clarification as to why you are doing what you are doing - one other good thing, at least for me in my situation, is to know that you won't have to deal with hunger when you decide to transition your life out of the formal workforce....great feeling that is: you have the option - most don't.
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Old 09-09-2008, 10:10 AM   #89
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There's nothing wrong with bitching. Talking about it is how you figure out what you need to do, whether it is stay at a job you really do like but aren't thrilled about every little aspect. Is anyone 100% thrilled about everything? or anything?
You're certainly entitled to your point of view; but I disagree.

"When you eliminate complaining from your life, you will enjoy happier relationships, better health and greater prosperity": A Complaint Free World | Home.
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:27 PM   #90
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There's nothing wrong with bitching............
In general, you may be right. If, however, you include participating in this activity in the workplace I must respectfully disagree.

I view the contention that "venting is healthy and must be tolerated" as the most destructive aspect of my work life over the last 25 years.

Complaining is a cancer. Left unchecked, it grows and infects everyone. It is the most prolific killer of a good work ethic that I have ever encountered.

Please do not misunderstand. I am not saying unethical behavior by an employer must be ignored. But it has been my experience that more than a few people today believe that the mere fact that they draw breath entitles them to demand respect they have not earned and do not deserve. The selfish notion that every real or imagined slight must be met with complaint exacerbates this problem. “Bitching”, most of the time, does nothing more than promote the self-important view of those with already over-inflated egos.

Having said that, the OP is not complaining at the work place, he is complaining about the work place. That may be healthy for some. I truly hope it has been for him. Complaining usually makes me feel worse than I did before because at the root of all grievances is a lack of control or the power to direct. I’d rather maintain control and cut the problem loose if at all possible. I do feel better then.

This entire thread has been one of the most thought-provoking (and most eloquent) that I have read on this forum. Thanks.

Ron
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Old 09-10-2008, 03:37 PM   #91
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I see a difference between “bitching” and considered criticism. Bitching evokes childish and impotent complaining that is often intended to stroke ones' own ego. I’ve certainly expressed disappointment and frustration at my sense of powerlessness to change the machine. But perhaps one should rage against the dying of the light regardless.

I wonder what realistic, non-petty coping strategies have worked for people when "winning" against a bureaucracy isn't possible?
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Old 09-10-2008, 05:10 PM   #92
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I see a difference between “bitching” and considered criticism. Bitching evokes childish and impotent complaining that is often intended to stroke ones' own ego. I’ve certainly expressed disappointment and frustration at my sense of powerlessness to change the machine. But perhaps one should rage against the dying of the light regardless.

I wonder what realistic, non-petty coping strategies have worked for people when "winning" against a bureaucracy isn't possible?
Vodka has a long successful history. See under "Russia".

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Old 09-10-2008, 06:06 PM   #93
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I wonder what realistic, non-petty coping strategies have worked for people when "winning" against a bureaucracy isn't possible?
In my experience, there are essentially two options:

(1) take some coaching or do whatever else it takes to become an enthusiatic supporter of the 'party line'; or

(2) leave.

Passive-aggression (sometimes taking the form of 'malicious compliance') is a third strategy, but IMO is neither "non-petty" nor particularly realistic. The same comments apply to substance abuse.

I can tell you that when I had my own frustrations with the navy I initially fell into embittered cynicism for a while. After a while I realized that I didn't like what was happening to my personality, so I pursued (2) and eliminated significant negativity. As r2021t correctly says, complaining and cynicism are cancers (both personally and for the organization).

It's trite but true that most of us go through different phases in our lives. As we gain experience, assume family responsibilities, etc., what once was intensely interesting and challenging may become repetitive and even tiresome. That shift doesn't invalidate our earlier choices, but it may mean that the future would be better spent trying something new.
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Old 09-10-2008, 06:42 PM   #94
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"Living well is the best revenge" comes to mind as a third approach. So, maximize the freedoms and perquisites of the job while minimizing the impact of its more unfortunate aspects, and devote most of your emotional energy and attachments to your outside life. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details on this one.
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Old 09-10-2008, 06:53 PM   #95
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In my experience, there are essentially two options:

(1) take some coaching or do whatever else it takes to become an enthusiatic supporter of the 'party line'; or

(2) leave.
3) The other option is to quit caring so much. After all it's just a job. Your job is what you do, It's not what you are !
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Old 09-10-2008, 07:22 PM   #96
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Sometimes (3) is easier said than done, but you make a good point.
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Old 09-11-2008, 10:32 AM   #97
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Most high positions that we strive for turn out to be less than we had hoped.

Yours was tenured professor. Mine were:
Management
Executive management
CEO
ChB

Each position required reframing and attempting to do the job "my way" in spite of evidence to the contrary that success could come from politics and back biting. I managed to work for 35 years doing it my way. No regrets and a tremendous sense of satisfaction from not selling my soul.
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Old 09-11-2008, 12:10 PM   #98
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Grep,

Do you have contact with any reasonable colleagues who might have similar feelings about your institution/administration? It might take time to feel comfortable with one another, but having someone to talk to may make you feel less isolated.

Laughter can be invigorating. Think about the amazing collection of wierd and wonderful persons at your institution instead of mulling over their insults and denigrations. I know this sounds pollyannish, but how you process a personal interaction really influences your mood.

Remember you are in control. You have tenure. You make the decisions about whether you will play the political games, devote yourself to your students/ research, invest all your energy in your life outside of work or leave the job whenever it suits your needs.
Perhaps you feel you made a big mistake when you took the job at your particular institution. You still have the option of moving to another institution.

Get what you need/want out of this job without becoming embittered. No job is worth the price of giving up those moments of joy.
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Old 09-15-2008, 05:40 PM   #99
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Sue: Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I appreciate them.

And to all of you: Thanks for your encouragement and ideas. I expect I'll stay on for a few more years in the hopes that time and tenure eases my sense of burnout and frustration. Barring that, or on top of that, I'll try to make "living well is the best revenge" my motto for as long as I do stay. I'll certainly keep one eye on early retirement as well.

Thanks again!
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Old 09-16-2008, 08:26 AM   #100
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"Living well is the best revenge" is appropriate for many situations. I have relied on this motto and passed it on to several of my colleagues.

With time you will be able to decide what is the best direction for your career and life.. I wish you the best of luck with your students, research and all your decisions.
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