Title:  Sheepdog

 Purpose:  Keep the wolves away

 Priorities:  Protect the lambs, round up the strays

 Qualifications:  Courage and speed

 Evaluation:  The head count in the morning

 Compensation:  A pat on the head


Now there’s a job to sink your teeth into.

 Jobs for the rest of us aren’t as sweet and simple. All this stuff involving adjective-rich mission statements, reintegration strategies and regulatory compliant modifications makes it hard to understand if we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, and if what we are supposed to be doing is making a whit of difference.

 When I was younger, I had the belief that whatever your job was, you got it done to the best of your ability and good things would come your way. The hospitality industry took that notion from me. In my twenties, I was working double-shifts as a manager, turning a financially distressed motel property in Iowa into a profit-maker. In recognition of my hard work and success, I called my boss and asked him for a small raise. He said he would fly out the next day and address the situation. When he showed up, he introduced me to my replacement.

 A few years later, I supervised a college housing unit at a small private college and discovered some students growing marijuana plants in their bathrooms. I sympathized with their passion for agriculture and gave them a break, telling them to get rid of it by nightfall. They took their plants to the President the next morning with an absurd aspersion about my pot habit and suddenly, I was no longer a supervisor.

 Doing the right things for the right reasons and receiving fair compensation for your efforts can be complicated and confusing within any job. It can cause physical health issues and emotional pain, particularly when you closely connect your self-esteem to your work performance. After two decades as CEO of a thriving publishing company, I still wake up at night second-guessing personnel decisions, creating financial statements in my head and searching for diminishing margins on inventory items.

 Yes, if I had it all to do over again, I’d be more like a sheepdog. I might be weak on qualifications but I’d keep my purpose and priorities straight. And I’ve always appreciated a pat on the head for a job well done.