Cultivating stubbornness

28 August, 2008

The under-appreciated character trait could keep you in employment

I was removing the security grilles from the shop windows the other morning. One of the staff from the labour agency next door was having a smoke

and she asked me: "Don't you get bored of doing that every morning?" Yes, of course I'm bored of it, I've probably done it 1,500 times

and the novelty

has worn off just a bit. But lacking any other way of stopping people putting our windows through and pinching wine, this is what we have to do. There is no other option, and fortunately I'm a stubborn bastard, so I don't mind too much.

Being a stubborn bastard is a n under-appreciated character trait. In the ebb and flow of managing a business, it helps quite a bit to be able to grit your teeth and just get on with the job. You need to be as stubborn with yourself as with anyone else - perhaps more so. Rather than throwing yourself to the floor and weeping when yet another pallet of stock shows up, it helps if you can just screw up those feelings into a tiny ball of irritation. Better still, use the irritation as fuel for humping the stock down the steps into the cellar, where it will rest for a few days until you have to lug it back up to the shop.

It almost makes me wish I smoked a pipe - as the hiss of air brakes outside the shop announces another delivery, I could strike a match and puff a huge cloud of custard-scented smoke towards the pile of boxes. "Now see here, you're not taking the shine off my day," I could mutter, perhaps jabbing the pile with the stem of the pipe for extra emphasis, stubborn and unflappable. Come to think of it, I needn't even smoke to do that. I could just clench an unlit pipe between my teeth - much more healthy.

I like to think

this stubbornness will eventually yield some reward. It's true that because this isn't my own business, there are times when I've been sorely tempted to throw in the towel. It would be easy to go and do something else - hell, anything else. That's pretty much the employment pattern

I've followed to date: become slickly proficient at something

and do it until you absolutely can't do it for a day longer,

then just quit and do something completely different. It's been interesting, but it's hardly a career progression in the conventional sense of the phrase. Fortunately, I've managed to build interesting things into this job - tasting events, judging beer competitions, even a bit of freelance writing . It all helps.

Every now and again, an ex-employee will drop by. One chap

we employed a few years ago popped up the other day

- I remembered him as being much taller than me

but, oddly, without the beard and dreadlocks he formerly sported .

He was smaller than I remembered

and seemed a bit sheepish (perhaps literally) about his shorn state. Another of the old guard emailed me to say

he was bored of working as a subtitler at the BBC. A change is as good as a rest, I guess. One of our current stalwarts (Will C, who, together with Will B, makes up the fearsome Team Will Squared) is looking for his first post-degree job. Recruitment advisers have told him to stay put here until he finds what he wants. So it seems that being a stubborn bastard isn't just a character trait, but it is now being advised as a career path.




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