A George Michael lyric, of all the things to start with, but I couldn’t get it out of my head as I was walking across the square just outside our office today. Later that afternoon I came up with “I’m free…. to do whatever” but it’s not like the guys from Oasis are much of an improvement, character-wise, over George Michael.
So, freedom. To do whatever I want. If it sounds too good to be true – it’s probably Accenture.
After the diagnosis I had some concerns around what would happen with my job – the insurance that pays out to Iris if I die while employed is based on the clause "while employed”. That isn’t strictly speaking a guarantee: Accenture has the right to fire me if I’m ill for two years. Depending on social security isn’t that bad but still represents roughly a 50-60% paycut. So I was worried about that and some other details and I felt a bit nervous going in to the meeting with HR and my manager to hear what the result was.
The big one first – Iris’ “pension” is secured. I have it in writing here with me in a letter, signed and stamped, no-one will take this away from me: Accenture will do whatever it takes to make sure that once I do pass away Iris will receive a seriously good annual payment for the rest of her life.
Then the next big one. Whatever happens I will get my full salary for at least the next three and potentially five years to come. Maybe even more, depending on some technical details. That's more than twice what Accenture is obliged to do by law.
Another big one. I am relieved of all responsibilities: Accenture expects nothing more of me for the rest of my life. Lots of consideration has gone into this from their side and it took a good half hour before I really understood it. My manager never wants to be in the position where he has to say “Hey, Garmt, you were supposed to do this” – I have enough to worry about. I can spend the rest of my working life doing whatever I want, with full access to all of Accenture’s means and methods (and lease car and phone), their suggestion being: work to build your heritage that kicks ALS in the nuts. I can go kitesurfing or I can continue working. It’s just likely that I won’t get responsibility for a budget or a team anymore as that is considered stress they don’t want me to have. Accenture is giving me a platform to do whatever I want and wants to protect me from the workaholic within. Any other details are also covered.
I walk across the square in the sun, slower than I have ever walked, feeling lighter and more connected with the ground than I have ever felt, after hearing all this. I see people around me with frowns and scowls, in a hurry to do something, frustrated by their stress, the things they must, and I think: not me. I am free of all this. I am free to do whatever I want. I knew joining Accenture was the smartest thing I ever did for my career but this is more than anyone had ever expected. It’s a gift that goes way beyond what is considered fair. Gert calls this the dream job, and it has all the character traits of one, but like Sartre theorized: freedom is also…. frightening. He also theorized that hell is other people, but I’ve written enough posts about that already!
I speak to my manager again half an hour later and start to feel uneasy. I’m out of the rat race. I’m no longer striving for the at-the-very-top position. But I’m not broken yet! Which is exactly why they want to give this to me NOW, so I can enjoy all I want _while I can_. I’m free to use the Accenture network to get introduced to the CEO of Google and ask him to fund Project MinE. I’m also free to work on a project if I want. I’m just protected by a few rules that prevent me from doing what got me here – stress myself more than humanly possible. And that makes me feel castrated – like I’ll be a ghost strolling around the office, the guy with nothing to do but polish his job title, even though I know that I’m seeing ghosts and I’ve seen it in their eyes today, all and anything that these guys want is what is best FOR ME. Man I feel so ungrateful, I’m sorry. I’m getting to grips with the realisation that indeed my career is over. This was the top of the hill. In the most recent reorganisation I was made Strategy Senior Manager, all I ever hoped for (well, partner would have been good, but hey) and that is as good as it gets. Is this my pension? Isn’t it common for pensioners to feel useless? This is where I usually end the post with: fuck that, I’ll show ‘em. And I will. I’ve said it often enough: this disease will be sorry that he bit into my arm. Don’t you worry. But this huge gift did make my upcoming death more real and I just need a minute to get over that thankyouverymuch.