Last night’s dreamscape featured three dreams, two variations on old themes. In the first dream, I find myself back at my office at IBM, my first sales job out of school. I’m on the Ashland account, the first account I was put on in training. Then, I was part of a team. In my dream, the account is mine alone. I’ve just found out some servers have been installed in the account and I’m happy because I’m finally going to get a commission check. The territory has not been going well. Not only have I feared for my job, I’ve been making no money and I know that sooner IBM or I will have to decide whether I stay in this job. My boss has decided though that I not involved enough in the sale and is trying to justify holding my commissions back. His office is a multi-room office and as I sit in one room, he’s yelling at me from the other room as he moves about doing whatever it is he’s doing. I’m making the case that if I’m responsible when the customer doesn’t buy, I’m also entitled to the commission when the customer does buy. I think I’m winning the argument, but it’s hard to say. I might get paid on this deal, but it doesn’t make me safe long term.
Back to the real world; I have been in sales for over 30 years at this point, most of the time, including now- 100% commission sales. If no one buys, I don’t get paid. I’ve heard that job-related stress is proportional to the ratio between the amount of responsibility you have versus the amount of control. That would make commission sales one of the highest stress jobs possible. There’s no safety net. You have 100% responsibility for bringing in the money. However, whether you get paid is not based at all on what you do. You can work 100 hours a week. You can crank out proposals. You can wine and dine. You get paid when other people take an action though; an action you cannot force them to take.
In the next dream, I find myself in the car dream again. This time there is some sort of remote controlled car I use to get back and forth to work. The concept is I’m in the car and it drives itself most of the way. As a passenger, I cannot even see outside of the car. There’s an opaque shade that covers the windshield. All I have to do is ride. But, at some point on the ride, the system announces that I’m in control and I’m supposed to navigate the rest of the way home. I’ve been doing this for days or weeks. However, I’ve never understood exactly how it works. When it announces I’m in control, I’m still in the car with my eyes closed and I somehow end up at home. On this particular day when it makes the announcement “The navigation system is shutting down, you are in control.” I realize I can’t rely on luck to get me home. I have no idea how I’ve been doing it, but I have to do something different. I struggle to open my eyes for the first time and I find the steering wheel. As I look towards the windshield, the visor that covers it lowers and I can see the landscape in front of me. I take the wheel and start driving for the first time, avoiding the obstacles that I’ve been miraculously missing the other nights when the navigation system had shut down and no one was driving.
The last dream of the evening, I’m at a gathering of people and someone asks me if I’m a professional speaker. I am not. I tell them I have given a few talks before, in a past life (in sales). They ask me if I’d be interested in speaking at the next Helping Parents Heal conference. There is a meeting coming up to plan the conference and they’d like me to attend the meeting. I go to the meeting which is a rehearsal of sorts.They’re handing out the program that will be used. There are celebrities gathered, superstar rock groups will be performing. It’s going to be a really big deal.