Long Time No See
Wow, I remember thinking a day or two ago that I should post a quick update noting that I’ve already been in China for a month! Turns out, that was actually two weeks ago. And at this point I might actually be closer to two months in China than one.
I’ve been consumed by work, as I’m prone to, and I have nothing but extremely mixed feelings on the matter. Perhaps a quick blog post will help me clarify my own feelings, and, at the same time, I can solicit some feedback from y’alls out there.
Work has consumed me because, quite simply, there is no one leading. I just started my own company in the two years before coming to China, so I know what sort of dedication and vision it takes to turn a dream into a reality. There are so many details that need to be catalogued, organized, and plowed through and so many distractions to ignore. At the moment, at Rock Abond Outdoor Adventures, we have no one organizing what needs to be done, barely anyone working on anything at all, and distractions and diversions galore! It’s been, for me, a titanic test of patience and a profoundly dramatic culture shock.
Do I personally think this company can survive with such utter disorganization? The honest answer is no. Who I am is the belief that what you are is what you will. Phew! I think that sentence might have meaning if you’ve smoked a joint or two, but let me try to phrase that more simply: if you just go with the flow, if you’re like a leaf blown around by the wind, you are simply a receiver, a listener. Me, I like to create, I like to shout and yell, I like to blow the leaves around. To me, this is my identity; how I blow the leaves, what I yell, what I create all define who I am. Simply waiting for the wind to blow me someplace interesting or for something interesting to spontaneously (like this split infinitive) manifest itself is a perfectly respectable, normal, and fulfilling way to live, but it’s not who I am.
It’s funny to me that I just wrote a post entitled “Leafin’” a few weeks ago, celebrating the joys of going with the flow. And I will reiterate now that the world already has so much to offer, no one needs to create anything new. You can simply explore what’s out there and live an incredibly fulfilled life. Me, I suppose I’m a little different. There’s something deep inside of me that needs to create something new, and I travel the world in search of inspiration. Thus I see the benefit in both being a leaf blown around by the wind and being the wind blowing around some leaves.
So, what does this have to do with work? I am the only person that’s taken any initiative at work to do things like write a safety manual, inquire about insurance, hospital facilities, helicopter evacuation availability, liability releases, first aid kits, and dozens of other tasks. We are an outdoor guiding company, and in my opinion we simply cannot take out a single customer until we’ve figured out all of these details. It’s crazy to me that no one (out of twenty employees!) else seems to care. And, to return to a point from earlier, I do not believe that a great company can come out of such nonchalance. We need to start blowing some leaves around instead of just waiting to be blown in the direction of success!
So what’s the issue? I didn’t come to China to work so hard, so why don’t I just quit and go back to my pretirement? Well, let’s recall why I came to China (in alphabetical order): climb, learn Chinese, travel. I’m not going to be able to do just those three for three years (how long I intend to stay in China) without some source of income apart from my dwindling savings. So work naturally has become part of the plan while I’m here. And, I’m not really sure I could find another type of job while in China that would allow me more time or resources to pursue my three primary goals. Working for an outdoor adventure company gives me unrivaled access to travel and climbing, and working for a Chinese company gives me constant exposure to Chinese language and culture. There really isn’t much that could be better. And, yet, I’m still going a little crazy as a result of the shear chaos and neck-deep disorganization that surrounds me every moment of every day.
The plan at the moment is to ask the owner of Rock Abond Outdoor Adventures if I can have some sort of a manager role. Here’s my thought: I don’t want to be stuck working 5+ days a week, but I do want a level of control that allows me to organize what’s currently chaos and fix what isn’t working. I’m not sure I can stay at the company otherwise. And, I’m pretty sure it’s just my Western dispositions that are messing me up. Everyone has been nothing but exceedingly kind and nice to me, and I would only need to leave because I’m going crazy. Chinese business is different from Western business, and in the end I may need to just respect the differences.
We’ll see where this goes in the next few days.
Location:069 Country Rd,Guilin,China