It’s all about the TMP: What I learned from dreaming about my boss

People that know me, know that I’m a vivid dreamer. I have notes of things that I dream about scattered everywhere, and I even have architectural drawings of the places I visit in my dreams. While the visuals may stick with me for a long time, the things I learn or the feelings that my dreams create can stick with me for even longer. I recently had a dream about my boss (a nightmare to some), and here’s how it played out…

At the beginning of the dream, I just finished wrapping up a pitch for a potential new client. I was feeling confident and excited about the prospect of winning. That feeling quickly vanished when the client informed us that they decided to go with someone else. I felt defeated. I usually beat myself up when these things happen, and my dream was no different.

I heard that our CEO was doing a presentation, so I decided to go watch him in the wake of our failed pitch. Let me say that in real life, our CEO, Ming, LOVES to talk. Put him in a room with a slideshow, and he is like a child opening presents on Christmas morning.

The venue was almost like a concert. There were no seats, but instead a big crowd pushed up to the stage, as if they were waiting for their favorite band to start playing. Ming comes out on stage, waving at his fans as everyone claps and cheers. The projector screen flips on to the first slide and title of the presentation.

“It’s all about the TMP”

I was immediately curious what the talk was going to be about, and I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to talk about temporary folders on a hard drive, but maybe something else that is temporary. I waited patiently as he started his introduction.

“Hello, everyone. My name is Ming Chan, and I am the CEO of The1stMovement…”

Just as he flipped to the next slide with the company name, the slideshow went haywire and he lost the whole presentation. Slightly flustered, but without missing a beat, he tries to continue talking while he is building the presentation on the fly.

“Hello, everyone. My name is Ming Chan, and I am the CEO of The1stMovement…”

This time, he is trying to type the company name in real-time as he is speaking. I’m watching the screen as he repeatedly misspells our company name. Typing, then backspacing. He’s cracking jokes, and trying to stall as much as possible without ending the presentation. The crowd becomes restless, and you can hear a low-level grumble throughout the auditorium. I felt so sorry for him, but was amazed at the positive attitude that he portrayed while on the stage as everything was going down in flames. He finally spelled the company name correctly and started to continue…and then I woke up.

I was laying in bed and I couldn’t go back to sleep as thoughts were running wildly in my head. What was he going to talk about? It’s all about the TMP, but what is that? I have to find out!

I tried really hard to fall back asleep as quickly as possible, and it worked! I jumped back in the dream, but his presentation was already over. At this point, I was with him backstage as we were talking to the person running the event. After listening to a little of the conversation between Ming and this guy, I found out that it was the “Presentation Championship” and Ming was competing.

“Well, what’s the answer? Did I win?”, Ming said.

“I’m sorry, but you didn’t win,” replied the man standing behind a desk.

“But, there were technical issues! Those weren’t my fault! I…”

“I’m sorry, Ming, but your presentation sucked this year.”

I saw the disappointment wash over Ming’s face. His shoulders dropped and he walked away. Some of my other co-workers were there and we tried to cheer him up. There was nothing we could say or do that would boost his spirits.

“I need some time alone,” he said. He walked away from us all, and that was the end of my dream.

I woke up again, and this time, half of me felt very sad. The other half of me was still obsessively trying to process the dream and figure out what his presentation was about. It was something “temporary”, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. This is what came out of my mind in overdrive…

People can be temporary.

In the agency world, companies grow and shrink with the work. When an agency typically lands a big client, they hire new people, or soak up as many contractors as possible. When an agency loses that big client, though, it causes an opposite reaction where people are laid off and the contractors’ work with the agency is dried up. Permanency does not exist for people in the agency world.

Work is temporary.

My whole career has been based in digital. I pour my heart and soul into various pieces of work. Then the campaign is over, or the site is redesigned a couple years later. I don’t end up with a box of printed brochures or t-shirts that I designed when it is all over. I end up with a bunch of files on a hard drive that may or may not capture the essence of what I built at the time. Agency life doesn’t allow for us to be a one-hit wonder. Our work disappears and we must recreate that magic every time.

As I pondered on those two thoughts, I started re-tracing my steps through the dream. It was at that moment that I captured a small detail from the second dream. I thought back to that guy’s reply to Ming when he talked about all the difficulties that lead to the presentation failing.

“I’m sorry, Ming, but your presentation sucked this year.”

There was a small detail to that reply that I originally missed.

This year.

His presentations haven’t always failed. And his presentations won’t always fail in the future. This presentation in particular failed, but it doesn’t define his past or his future. This lead me to my last conclusion:

Failure is temporary.

I always hear those statements about falling and getting back up, but they are just sayings that you hear all the time. I am terrified of failure. I’ve played it safe for most of my life because I don’t want to be a failure. Watching my boss bomb on stage (even if it was only a dream), was a striking thing to witness. But I do know that if it were to happen to him in real life, he would work even harder to win next year. Failure is only permanent when you stop trying to succeed.

Overall, this was a great end-of-year dream, even if it cost me a half night’s sleep. It gave me a lot of things to think about as I look back on this year and head into the next. Now, if I can just figure out what his presentation was about…

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.