It was in my first year of working. I was in a team which oversaw the international transactions of the biggest client of my firm. I was placed there mainly for my English skills, but by the end of the year I was assigned to draft many key documents and even had chances to have my opinions and suggestions reflected in them.
The client really pushed us hard, and we were always on our toes trying to stay a step ahead of them. So, before the year-end, we were getting ready to make another proposal for the coming year. I had worked many many hours, coming to the office very early and leaving very late for days to draft and revise the proposal… and on the night before the last meeting of the year with our client, my boss finally gave me her approval.
It was already way past midnight, but I made print-outs and spiral-bound them (I like this process, it makes me feel like a professional binder!), put them in a sac and placed them on my boss’s desk. And for some reason, I decided to send one last e-mail to the team to give an overview and share the take-aways of the finalized document.
I shut down my computer, turned off all the lights in the office as I was the last one to leave, locked the office door behind, got on a cab to head home, took a quick shower, set my alarm clock at a couple of hours later, and finally feeling relieved that I have done everything I needed to do, I went to sleep.
But when I woke up, it was fifteen minutes before the scheduled meeting with our client! There was no way I would make it on time, so I phoned my boss to tell her everything she needed to know about the very final output of the proposal. I was so sure she was going to give me a penalty of some sort, but all she said was this:
“I know how hard you worked, so take a good rest and see you in the new year – but next time, make sure you run through one-hundred-and-one metres.”
Maybe I did work hard… harder than anyone else, like running the one-hundred metre race at full speed.
But maybe when I caught sight of the goal line, I started to ease up and slow down.
And maybe that is why I stiffened and stumbled right before finishing, never making it till the very end.
Maybe my boss saw that, and told me to set my goal a little further ahead, so I will surely cross the goal line at full speed in future races.
To this date, this is my most bitter memory in my working experience. But the best medicine swallowed whose taste I will remember for the rest of my life. I think I will forever be embarrassed that it happened, but I will forever be grateful that my boss chose to reward me with a lesson rather than mete out an unpleasant punishment.
I am almost at the goal line of a project right now. I have been working hard and extremely tired, but I am all set to run the extra metre – bring it on!