A party at Flat Top Grill

Yes, yes, I know that I’m supposed to just love local businesses. And I do. I really do! My favorite restaurant is probably One World. Or maybe Noir. Or maybe both.

But my second favorite restaurant is Flat Top Grill.

My birthday is coming up–okay, it’s July 31, when most of you will probably read this–which means that I received my free birthday stir fry! And so Crystal and I went up to Flat Top for our date night.

At the Flat Top Grill in Peoria, there’s a side room that can be rented out. And, over the past thirteen months, every time I walk by it, I remember what happened there in late June 2012.

Did you know that I used to be in management? Yep, for 2.5 years. At the height of my stint in management, I was overseeing two separate departments comprising six staff members and one very busy consultant. During that time, I successfully merged those two departments (IT and Systems) into one functioning department (Information Systems), oversaw the relocation of a sixty-person organization with zero unplanned downtime, and initiated a complete overhaul of IT.

And in June 2012, I stepped aside.

It had become clear to me that we needed more skilled leadership to take our organization to the “next level”. I knew that I didn’t have the necessary expertise to make it happen. And so, I got my boss hired. No longer a very busy consultant, he was now the CIO. Or, rather, he would be, come July 1, 2012.

And at the end of June, my department threw me a party. At Flat Top. And they told me that they loved me and they respected me and that they had appreciated my time being their boss.

I’ve clung to that memory over the last year. I’ve had to fight off a lot of voices of doubt, including my own. Had I just been deluding myself about being a good manager? I spent most of the time engaged in pointless, uphill battles, and, at the end of it all, I demoted myself. Had it been worth it? Had I actually done anything worthwhile?

And when the voices come, I fend them off with memories of a party at Flat Top Grill. Because, in that moment, I had my guys gathered around me. And they all told me that I had done good. That I was worth it.

That I had earned their respect and loyalty.

Well, dammit, if I managed that, I must have done something right.

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