Thursday, June 3, 2010

The familiars in Golf

I always thought that golf was a stupid sport (no offense meant to any afficionados). I thought it was a rich man's sport. A very expensive game of chasing a small ball into a small hole across vast lands. It didn't have the competitive heat of basketball or soccer. It didn't have the team spirit of volleyball. It didn't even have the attractive outfits of tennis! To my naive mind then, it was a 'Daddy's 'sport.

But recently, I've taken golf lessons in the hopes of penetrating the so-called language of business. They say that most business deals are made in the golf course. And I definitely want in on that. So, in preparation for business school and the various networking and social events I will have to tend to very soon, I'm learning the sport and believe it or not, loving it!

I realize that golf is very much formulaic as with many things in life. Grip. Backswing. Drive. Follow-through. Hold. (or something like that). I thought that it would be easy. Just five or so simple moves. But it isn't easy at all. Apparently, golf is not just about a stupid ball into a stupid hole. Precision and consistency are key. A wrong grip, a wrong club angle, or an inaccurate twist of the shoulder can make or break your hit.

So in that sense, golf is like many other things. Formulaic but difficult. Like our jobs. People teach us the basics. In Marketing, it's: insight, concept, product, execution (forgive me, my Marketing is rusty). In Sales, it's: product, selling story, customer service (or something similar). In my job in Management Accounting, it's: numbers, analysis vs forecast, analysis vs historical data, recommendations.

But when you do the actual job, you just don't do steps 1, 2 and 3. Sometimes it's 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3 and many other combinations. Like golf, you have to mind your basics but you also have to make everything else make sense. And move in harmony. When you're there and you're actually doing it, you don't just repeat the steps--you feel the ground on your feet, gauge your target, hold your grip and control the energy you exert. In the bigger scheme of things, the basics will have to come naturally. As in our jobs. And in our lives.

Sigh. If only life were as easy as 'lather, rinse, repeat.'

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Notice of Departure

Today I received an email with the subject "Notice of Departure." It's not the first time that I've received an email such as this. I have had subordinates leaving the company hence the routing of the notice of departure with the necessary clearance forms. But this time around, the 'departing employee' is yours truly.

The big bold letters, the formality of the text, the finality of the words... It hit me. I will be leaving my company very soon. After five years, four business units, 11 brands, eight different positions/roles, countless financial reports and commentaries, my Unilever journey will come to an end.

I remember my first months with Unilever, fresh off college. I remember staying many nights at the office until 1am, cursing my work, pulling my hair off and vowing to tender my resignation the very next morning. But I had decided on giving it another chance. I told myself that these are just birth pains, that I would eventually get the hang of things. Thankfully, I did. I also remember the arduous new templates the Global guys or new bosses would ask me to accomplish in record-breaking time. I remember promising myself that my resume would be in the hands of headhunters by the end of the day. But it never did. Because I never quit.

Somehow, I always found a reason or reasons to stay--my company's noble vision, my supportive bosses, my talented subordinates, my brilliant colleagues and my challenging yet fulfilling job. Someone wise once told me that the day you find yourself forcing yourself to go to work, will be the day you should consider leaving your job. I've had many of those days. But I've had more days of being at the office, talking to my colleagues, brainstorming and challenging each other, coming up with product and consumer/customer solutions. And completely forgetting why I had a difficult time getting up in the morning. I loved my job and I guess no other reason except my commitment to further my education, expand my global network, learn from the world's best professors and students and all in all experience that quantum leap would have made me leave my job.

Notice of Departure. Yes, it hit me. Hard. And it felt like one big, painful, final thud.