Sunday, July 10, 2011

Journal of a Living Lady #400

Nancy White Kelly

Finally, after filing for an extension, our taxes are done and in the mail. Keeping records for a coin business is tedious. Uncle Sam wants to know how you acquired each numismatic item, when it was bought, what you paid for it and, if sold, how much it brought. Try cataloging thousands of coins, some as small as a penny, and others as large as a British crown.

Quite often I don’t know how I acquired a certain coin as it is common in the antique and numismatic business to purchase a large number of items in a bulk sale. More often than not, these coins were formerly owned by somebody’s deceased relative and the seller doesn’t have any idea how it came into their dear departed’s possession.

Identifying a single coin, especially an obscure world coin, takes hours of research. It is discouraging to find that the piece of metal is worth less than a U.S. dollar. Then try to find somebody who would like to buy a schilling or a Grecian drachma.

Time is a commodity and there is never enough of it. I am always attending to the tyranny of the urgent. In the meanwhile, store receipts for buying and selling pile higher and higher.

The fear of fines or worse, prison, eventually forces me to sit down and sort it all out. Poor Buddy has learned to tread lightly around me during this stressful time. Every year I promise myself I will stay current with my bookkeeping and each year I fail. I am sorry to disillusion you. The Living Lady is not an entity of perfection.
Back in the 70’s it was required that I take a vocational aptitude test for my new job as a state Head Start Administrator. This was during the early days of Affirmative Action. For the first time, my superior was a nice, but inexperienced young black man also new to his position. He had to take the test too.
After the scores were returned, he suggested we compare our results. He probably regretted it, but even he laughed at what the test said about his aptitudes. Among other quasi-titles, he showed high ability for manual labor and would excel as a “trash collector.” I chuckled too at my chart. It stated that I would be a strong candidate for the astronaut program.

Apparently the test had a smidgen of validity. My report also stated that I was particularly suited for educational administration which turned out to be true. I was a school principal/administrator for a large portion of my professional life. I enjoyed the classroom tremendously, but was continually solicited for chief honcho positions. One of my evaluations said that my strength is being able to see the big picture, break the job down to manageable tasks and assign them to responsible people. How hard can it be to delegate? Anybody in a suit can do it.
Ask me about management styles and I can talk hours about what I have learned. My leadership style changed significantly over the years. At first my Type A personality destined me to be an authoritarian driver with high expectations of those around me. And, yes, it is lonely at the top.

With each school change, I mellowed. At the end of my administrative career, I think I could better be described as a team builder and cheer leader. I surely hope so.
While both leadership styles got the job done, I wish I had exhibited more confidence in those around me early-on. They were most capable, but I was weak on trust. Now, many years older and hopefully much wiser, I know that an enthusiastic team, with admirable goals, can accomplish so much more than one who leads alone.
So why was I adept at running schools, but am now woefully lacking in self-discipline? Keeping business records organized and reports filed in a timely manner isn’t that difficult. The answer is simple. I have nobody to delegate the task to.
It’s just me now, accountable to and motivated by the Infernal Revenue Service. Thankfully I have a husband and a dog who still love me during and after tax season. Now that the taxes are done, Buddy is ready to hang a sign: Beware: Wife is experiencing taxing PMS…Post Mortem Syndrome. Properly interpreted, that means I am taking a long, over-due nap.

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