Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fortune Cookies

Fortune cookies are funny things. Sometimes they seem to make no sense at all, just little pieces of paper stuffed into cookies with funny Chinese characters and an oddly translated sentence. But then then there are other times that you just have to wonder how the cookie maker knew what it was that you were supposed to read/hear.

Take two weeks ago, for example, when I took the newly promoted managers to lunch. We went to Chef Lee's, and, of course, we finished our lunch with fortune cookie reading and eating. On the way to the restaurant, I had gotten into a discussion of patience with two of our managers whom I had driven to the lunch. As we parked, I laughingly confessed that sometimes I pray, "Dear God, please give me more patience, and please give it to me right now!" Well, my cookie had a little slip of paper that said it is better to wait for the hen than to eat the egg. I did not get it until one of those managers reminded me about my prayer for patience. Ah, let the egg hatch and grow up. Got it!

Years ago, I had planned to open my own business and leave the comfortable managerial spot I was holding. The uncertainty of running one's own business, however, made me nervous, and during lunch with a colleague from another organization, I shared both my desire and my concern. "I am a little afraid to take that next, big step," I told her. That time, too, I was at a Chinese restaurant. We opened our fortune cookies after lunch, and mine said, "Don't be afraid to take that big step." I did take it just a short few months later.

First, however, I met with a lawyer friend and some close friends, who were also colleagues and interested in supporting my new business in some way. In addition to looking at when I should move on and how the business would be organized from a legal vantage point, I wanted their opinion about when to tell my boss. I was a senior manager and could not simply walk out the door. I had already lined up some business, but it was not enough to live on. When the tipping point was reached, though, I would have to depart quickly, and I did not want to live a legacy in which I had toppled projects, goals, and even business deals. So, we discussed how open to be about my plans. Again, I was at a Chinese restaurant (I do eat in places other than Chinese restaurants, by the way), and the fortune cookie cleared up everything: "Keep your plans secret for now."

Go figure!

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