Michael What developed next in the working relationship with Lynda?
George The next time I saw her was two months later at another inter-divisional meeting, this time in LA. She was in the process of being transferred to our Boston office and had managed to get herself on the program at the LA meeting.
Michael What was she doing on the program?
George She was making a presentation on some of the human issues involved in using computers in project scheduling, and I was scheduled for a similar presentation on graphic displays of project networks using computers. The sessions went really well, and I began to see how close the professional interests were between Lynda and me.
Michael It sounds like you had some specific areas of common interest.
George Yes we did. I asked her to be on a task force that was to meet the following year in Colorado, and she said she'd love to be involved. We both felt the company should take a broader assessment of the whole area of planning and control systems.

Getting corporate level studies out to the divisions was only possible if the divisions would cooperate in the study task forces. It was great to find someone with such a great interest going to work in the Boston division.
Michael It seems that this get-together proved very useful for both of you.
George Well, I really felt comfortable about our potential to work together, and when she left I gave her one of those affectionate tugs on the arm. I also told her to take care of herself because there were some pretty treacherous people in the Boston office who enjoyed making trouble for new recruits and transfers.

She said she liked the challenge and thanked me for caring so much. You know, at that time, I really did care a lot about what would happen to her.
Michael That sounds very nice. You seemed to be handling this relationship pretty well.
George Well, I thought so too. But after a while, I began to question my own motivations for wanting to work with Lynda. Basically, I felt guilty about having a woman as a friend.
Michael You're pretty hard on yourself, George. I mean, you didn't really have anything to feel guilty about.
George No, but that's how I felt at the time. I didn't talk to her too much for a year, but I did ask her to do two things. First, I wanted her to work with me on the corporate report as a co-author with me. Second, I wanted her to consider a transfer to our office.

Both requests were very hard for me to make in my then state of confusion. One part of me said these were the proper things to do given our shared professional interests. Another part said I was out of my mind and hoped she would say no.
Michael Did she?
George She said yes to writing the report but no to the transfer. The reason, she said, was that she was becoming part of a two-career family which restricted her options to move.

But that wouldn't affect her ability to work on the report. Again, it was good to have some reassurance that she was comfortable with our working relationship and wasn't looking for anything more.
Michael How did the co-authored report go?
George The first stages were pretty hard to coordinate until we agreed on the basic format and coverage. You see, we're both pretty independent thinkers, and I was used to organizing things for other people to do.

Lynda saw things a little differently, and we had some cordial collisions of philosophy on the report. Actually, I almost lost interest a couple of times and was on the verge of trashing the whole idea.
Michael How did you work it out?
George Well, I was getting busier and busier on another major report so I asked Lynda if she would be willing to finish it up on her own and actually assume lead responsibility for the report.
Michael And?
George Smartest thing I ever did. She finished it, and it was a smash success around corporate for about six months. We both got a lot of recognition from it, and I learned one of my more valuable lessons. Don't be afraid to give up some control; allow other competent people to contribute and share the credit.
Michael That sounds like a Quote from the Tao Te Ching again.
George Well, there is a nice passage in the book to say what I mean:

In caring for others and serving heaven,
There is nothing like using restraint.

Restraint begins with giving up one's own ideas.
If nothing is impossible, then there are no limits.

This is called having deep roots
And a firm foundation.

To me, our working relationship has become very harmonious. We're similar in our views but different in other ways. Maybe the difference in sex contributes in an intangible way; maybe not. I once imagined that Lynda was like the water, and I was the rocky shoreline.
Michael That's an interesting metaphor, Rocky.
George Well, the waves and the shore are different, but if you really look at them, they have this marvelous relationship. Go stare at the water some day, and you'll understand that they really do get along very well.

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