Dear Look on the Leadership Consultant’s Face,

I have had the others fooled for almost a year now, but not you, Look on the Leadership Consultant’s Face. I think you are gone and forgotten, and I exhale a sigh of relief, only to see you rise again, eyebrows arching, lips pursing together, just a tad pouty and knowing. You expose me. You weed me out like filth.

Because I am outmatched, I will confess. Yes, I am burned out. No, I’m not happy as middle management. I wouldn’t be happy as lower, upper, sideways, or diagonal management. I have stayed only because I don’t know what else to do. I want to quit, but I’m scared of leaving and finding myself in the same situation in a new building and five years older, scared I won’t be able to pay my bills, and scared to start over from scratch. Sometimes I am scared that no one would really care if I died tomorrow. I’ve got the others fooled—but the others aren’t you, now are they, Look? Is it OK if I call you Look? How about Molded-Plastic Arrogance? OK, we’ll go with Look.

It’s been almost eight seconds since you reappeared, so it’s time for you to blurt another buzzword. Challenge me. Offer me a challenge to synergize with the new paradigm by interfacing with multilevel players in the New Game. I used to think that meant “talk.” OK, “dialogue.” I used to think that meant to dialogue with other people in business. Is that what it means?

You want me to think outside the box. Last week, I followed orders and laid off three good employees. Two were quite angry; the third repeatedly asked me about her son’s medical coverage, as he is undergoing chemotherapy. I told her she needed to think outside the box. Actually, I said that following the aftercare period, I wasn’t sure what she should do, and then I mumbled something about giving her a great reference, and then I bit my knuckles until the skin broke. That night, I stared at the wall for two hours. Is that what you mean?

You say I lack vision, but I have vision, Look on the Leadership Consultant’s Face. I want you to share my vision:

First, we are outside the box. I am beating you repeatedly with frenzied, berserker-caveman swings, each ushered in with some guttural snarl.

Around the box, you are speaking to a group of senior executives about the need to motivate employees with personal power, and you look as self-satisfied as you do right now, the difference being that I am peeing on your head.

Inside the box, your wife and I are interfacing. Last year’s leaders still call this “screwing violently.” We’re in the box making these embarrassing animal noises, her buttocks shaking as I challenge her from behind. She accepts the challenge!

Above the box is a bench facing the Pacific Ocean. I am sitting on the bench, looking out toward the sea. For some insane reason, I get paid just enough to survive for sitting on this bench, watching the ocean. According to my vision, I sit here for most of the day, watching the ocean, and I just keep sitting and watching until things are better.

Look on the Leadership Consultant’s Face, can you see me?

S. Brown