Locking Horns with the 800-Pound Gorilla

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This entry was intended for my other blog, since it was a formal topic I would like to write about. On second thoughts, I felt that the line that divides the formal and informal parts of a person’s life in this aspect so narrow. Therefore I would like to add it as part of this blog.

A friend of mine asked me a simple question: Do I have the right to plan my weekends the way I want to? Yes, in fact. Why not? It is you who has to plan your weekend, and in case you expect someone else to plan your personal time for you, it could be disaster. But yes, conditions apply. If you are also planning to work…then you have to plan accordingly as well.What prompted the question? It was a simple situation. All on a sudden her boss organizes a picnic for the team, on a Saturday, without any information or provocation. A select few people actually knew such an event is being planned.

On the Thursday evening before, the boss is calling up people in a frantic manner:
“So…are you coming tomorrow?”

My friend made an outright denial. “I am sorry; I have something else planned for this weekend.” Then came the demands, the proverbial “contribution to the team spirit,” etc.

Of course, she had planned it weeks in advance. Moreover, she believes that weekends need to be the days she should reserve for herself and her son. It is important for a single parent to spend time with her only family. So family is important too.

And now that she has made it public, here comes the question to me:
“Am I wrong in making it straight?”

Well, I think she’s not. I thought about it for a while. I have this habit similar to scenario planning – I like to imagine what I would have done if I were in her position. How would I have responded to such a demand? Or may be how different would my demand be, if I were the boss?

I support her decision. Our weekends belong to us. Us first, and then only to the office. It is our requirement, we need it. Just like Harvard blogger Ron Ashkenas says, we never take our vacations in a proper way . We need to live even our personal lives “productively,” carrying our laptops and blackberries to places where there are feeble or perhaps no networks, and then we blame the service providers for not having a strong connection … myself included.

I do not have anything against contributions to team spirit as such. But yes, nothing goes beyond my personal freedom. I realised this quite late after getting too “productive” during my annual trips home. As a result I realize the depth of losses I had in my personal life. So I advised my friend: even if you need to stand-up against the 800-pound gorilla, do it…it’s worth the hard work.

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