Why Even Bad Bosses Are Good

I had an awful yoga teacher in class today. The kind that, halfway through, you get that a-ha moment and you think, "Oh yeah, THAT'S why I don't like him," and want to be sure to remember never to make that mistake again.

It's nothing personal, in fact he seems like a lovely guy. And I love the studio -- most of the teachers are the best around. But he's the kind of teacher who shouldn't be teaching, or hasn't been trained properly.

He walks around, giving lazy commands like "find your way back to downward facing dog" when we are twisted up in a pretzel-like attempt of a one-legged Bird of Paradise. And never, not once, does he even really look at the students to see if they're struggling or doing anything properly (or safely) -- let alone does he give any gentle corrections. I've personally learned so much from the help of my yoga teachers, adjusting my technique and simultaneously showing me just how flexible my body truly can be.

This lazy guy is kind of okay for someone like me who has been studying for 10 years and had enough great teachers to know HOW to do that. Or know what to ignore because I shouldn't do it. But I worried through the whole class for newer students -- like the tall, gangly guy at the back of the room who was most definitely a newbie.

Especially since the dude in front of him nearly fell on top of me overdoing and rushing through each pose like he had something to prove. I'm pretty sure the tall guy might never come back if he thinks -- as I would -- that this is yoga.

I've been in a funk all weekend and really needed this class, so the negative thoughts that kept pinging off my brain throughout the first half were not welcome. As I searched for some way to drown them out, a smaller, softer voice rose to the surface:

"Yeah, he might be lousy," it said. "But think about how much you'll appreciate the next good one."

And like that, my frustration melted into appreciation.

My mind went instead to all the wonderful teachers I've had, and how lucky I am to have learned so much about yoga and my body's abilities from them. Not to mention how much I looked forward to a class with one of them soon. That alone helped me realize the real hidden value in my present moment.

Even an awful teacher -- or experience -- can be good if it helps you recognize and appreciate the good ones.

I feel the same way about past bosses I've had in advertising. Sadly many of them were awful, completely lacking in people skills.

Like the one who blatantly stole what should have been the first TV commercial for me and my partner, by walking into the Maxwell House focus group and presenting his version of OUR idea.

Or the one, who was so uncomfortable around women, could never look me in the eye as he would repeatedly ask "What else you got?" All while my partner and I presented (obviously brilliant) idea after idea for a new Reeses peanut butter cup spot.

Or the one who screamed at me in my office, then stormed out when I dared ask why someone (anyone) would want to play "Claritinville" instead of the uber-popular Farmville.

I'm still not clear on that one.

Yes, I've worked for a LOT of bad creative directors. But ever since I became one, I've recognized the unexpected gift that each of them they gave me. They inadvertently taught me what NOT to do. And it's help shape me to be (what I hope is) a kinder, more empathetic creative director. At least most of the time.

And I have to believe, that's just as valuable as the good things I've learned from the few amazing CDs I've had the pleasure of working for. If not more so.