No. of Recommendations: 5
That was a fascinating post. I see some interesting parallels in our working careers, and if I didn't know better from your posting history on the Fool, if this was the first post of yours I had ever read, I'd think we were kindred spirits in many ways.

I had a tempestuous career, because I too had a hard time when I saw problems at work. I understand exactly what you mean about getting worked up because I saw a better way, and supervisors and managers wouldn't allow changes. It's not something I ever developed a tolerance for, and it made me miserable in most of my jobs.

I think it's a common pattern with certain kinds of people. My father was the same way. We moved every few years until I was 12 because he'd get fed up with the other lawyers in his office. The only working relationship he could tolerate over any length of time was sharing office expenses with 1-2 other lawyers, where they all essentially had independent practices.

It's not so much intolerance for other people, as difficulty dealing with co-workers who don't see the picture clearly. I had a brief period from 1999-2001 where I worked with a small team who did see the issues clearly. I don't know if you ever found a similar work environment.

Like you, I tried to strike out on my own a few times. 3 times, to be exact. Unlike you, I never ran up debt doing it. I found out that, whatever I might wish, I don't really have the correct temperament for working alone. The first two times, I ended it by getting another job. The third time, I discovered I didn't need another job, because I was making enough money from my investments.

I agree about the importance of tracking net worth. You may or may not be aware of this, but the current version of Quicken has a summary of net worth on the main page. It's always been possible to get a report with that information, but it's highly useful to have that number around as a standard display. You can also schedule future expenses and income, and project what your cash situation will be like far into the future.

I find an interesting, but probably meaningless, coincidence that your personal bottom occurred 2 months after October 2004. That's when I was fired for the first and only time from the last job I ever held.

Your bottom was at 35. Mine was at 30, in 1995. I ran up a debt for the first time since college then, financing my move from Colorado to California. It was the right decision, because it got me out of a barely break-even rut.

I never did accept the "Ballpark Principle", and I don't believe in it now as a general concept. I do agree that in many matters, it's the boss's decision because it's his ballpark. Certainly when you're talking about things like the overall direction of the company. But sometimes the boss is dead wrong, and in a healthy company, you should be able to do what you can to fix it.

You were right to send that letter to Mr. Hyde, and he was only hurting himself by not acknowledging that it was a problem. He was violating what Steve McConnell terms "work hygiene."

One of the tougher things about being a good employer is being open to corrections. When I was a team lead, I know I sometimes had a hard time with this, but I kept it uppermost in my mind because I knew it was difficult for me. Running a project as a democracy almost always ends in disaster, but so does running it as a totalitarian state.

- Gus
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When Life Gives You Lemons
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