Today, Microsoft officially closes its books on reconciling our last fiscal year (ended June 30). It takes about 10 days, and for many, it’s quite a lot of work. I happen to be accountable for 2 of 30 total ways the company measures its success. There have been teams of people working round the clock for weeks and really hard this entire year pushing through every obstacle and doing the transformative work upon which the future of our company will stand. These past two months for me have been especially hard as I not only had to finalize this year but focus ahead on the future — all while my own life is transforming in an interesting way. This past ten days, I’ve slept little (perhaps 8 hours since Monday). All of this is just context though.
I set my alarm for 430A around 8P yesterday. I was mostly complete with the work, but still had a bit to do and needed time. When I woke up at 840A and was meant to be meeting people at 9A (in person) for a final run through the very last steps of an entire year of work that impacts people’s paychecks, I simply said “oh fuck!”
Then I realized that I had slept on my desk and that the combination of sweat and saliva between my face and my lacquered blue desk had formed some sort of…superglue. I couldn’t immediately determine if I was going to rip off skin removing my face from my desk, but I saw my phone.
TO: Some executives
DATE: July 10, 2015; 8:53A
SUBJECT: Final publication of results
I need to alert you that we may miss final publish and this is my accountability entirely. I do not want the incredible work of so many to be undermined by me so wanted that to be clear. I fell asleep loading the remaining escalations last evening and just woke up. I have no better explanation.
I will work until this is done.
I typed this while my face was still stuck to my desk. Click send. Unstick from desk. It reminded me of another time I fell asleep with paper stuck to my face. I forwarded it to several colleagues to let them know of the issue and to make sure they knew I was going to make sure they weren’t impacted.
Later on and then throughout the day, several people commented on the email I had sent, ranging from, “that’s so brave of you to just admit it” to “kudos to you for saying that” to “that’s truly commendable.”
To each of these comments I answered something along the lines of, “That’s really lovely of you to say, but it’s really just being accountable.”
And this got me thinking about the power of owning up, fessing up, spilling it, saying it. Even when it is fucking hard to do. Even when you had to place trust in others they wouldn’t take what you say and twist it or use it in a way in which it was not intended to be used.
And then I remembered the first song that played off of Adam Lambert’s amazing new album when I got in to the car this morning, and how moved I was by the words. Let’s get rid of the smoke and mirrors.