I had a crazy dream recently. The dream started out innocently enough. I was sitting on my back deck watching the sunset. As evening approached, I gazed into the night sky and was startled by what I thought was a shooting star. It was quite beautiful and filled the night sky with brilliant light. This shooting star was certainly something special. Suddenly, it came right at our house and in a flash exploded into our backyard.
Scared to death, I approached the burning object and discovered what appeared to be an alien aircraft. In a split second, a door opened and out jumped a young man. He smiled, extended his hand and introduced himself as “Jack.” Instinctively, I reciprocated with a handshake and smile.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I am a visitor from another planet,” Jack replied.
“Why are you here?” I continued.
“Actually, I was trying to leave your planet when my ship malfunctioned. I have been visiting Earth for about a month and was attempting to head back home,” Jack said.
“Wow. This is really cool. Are you friendly? What were you doing here? Why are you leaving? Are you bringing others back?” I blurted out.
In fact, I followed those questions with about 50 more before Jack could respond. “Slow down, earthling. I will answer your questions, but then you need to answer a few of mine. Is that a deal?” stated Jack.
“Of course,” I replied excitedly. “OK,” Jack said. He then proceeded to answer my questions. “I was visiting Earth from a distant planet on a research mission. My species is very friendly, and we have no interest in harming you or any of your kind. In fact, I doubt we will come back. Though we look human, we are not. We are fairly advanced relative to your people.”
I just sat there with my jaw dropped as Jack went on to explain that he was simply the equivalent of an Earth college student. He was here to complete a research paper on Earth’s workplaces for a course he was taking back on his planet. He thought he might fail the course, though, as he was leaving without answers to his research questions. I let him know that I could provide the answers he needed and then hopefully help him get on his way.
“Great, earthling!” Jack responded happily. “I appreciate your interest in helping me and if you do, I will be eternally grateful. But I am not sure you can answer these questions. I have searched for the answers but cannot find logical explanations anywhere.”
“Just try me,” I said confidently. “OK, earthling. Here we go!” stated an eager Jack.
He began rattling off his questions:
- “Why do managers in your planet’s organizations keep doing annual performance reviews if they hate
- “Why do so many earthlings go
to places called ‘work’ unhappily every day?”
- “Why are new employees put on ‘probation’? Did they do something wrong?”
- “Why are your planet’s professional athletes paid and praised more
than earthlings that save lives,
find cures for diseases or who teach your offspring?”
- “Why do some organizations have candy and chips in their vending machines, but get upset about their rising health insurance costs?”
- “Why do some companies provide a list of people in their bereavement leave policies that your earthling workers can take time off to mourn if someone on that list dies? Are your earthling workers not permitted to mourn others who aren’t on the list?”
- “Why do they call it work/life balance if your workers still spend more time at work than with their families?”
- “Why are there still organizations that do not provide equal pay for equal work?”
- “Why are there not more of your planet’s females represented on management teams and company boards?”
- “Why do your companies make a big deal about a 10-year work anniversary but not an 11-year work anniversary?”
- “Why do some bosses call, text or email their employees after work hours?”
- “Why isn’t every organization committed to only hiring and keeping the very best talent they can find?”
“OK, Jack, enough,” I pleaded. I paused and then embarrassingly responded, “I do not have any logical explanations to your questions.” Jack just stared at me. He sheepishly grinned and replied, “I didn’t think so.”
At this point he had finished his repairs and was ready for a re-launch. He extended his hand and thanked me for my time and the conversation. He wished me well as he climbed back into the ship. The cockpit door closed shut and then suddenly reopened. “Hey, earthling, I forgot one more question,” he said.
“What’s that?” I replied. “What’s stopping you earthlings from figuring out the answers to my questions?” he mused.
With that, the cockpit door closed and in a flash his ship was off to the heavens. I remember the Earth shaking terribly when he took off, which turned out to be my spouse waking me up. “Pat, do you know you were talking in your sleep?” she asked. Upon gaining full consciousness, I quickly shared my dream with her. After hearing my story, she commented that the questions were great and that perhaps every organization could use them to begin conversations toward making improvements in their respective workplaces.
With a sigh I responded, “Now that would be a dream come true!”