Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it.
READ THIS. You will not be disappointed. It started my day off on the right foot.
From George Saunders’ 2013 “Advice to Graduates” commencement speech @ Syracuse University:
“…Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?” And they’ll tell you. Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked. Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.
So: What do I regret? Being poor from time to time? Not really. Working terrible jobs, like “knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?” (And don’t even ASK what that entails.) No. I don’t regret that. Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked? And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months? Not so much. Do I regret the occasional humiliation? Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl? No. I don’t even regret that.
But here’s something I do regret…What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly. Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet… [Read more...]
“There it is; the light across the water. Your story. Mine. His. It has to be seen to be believed. And it has to be heard. In the endless babble of narrative, in spite of the daily noise, the story waits to be heard.
Some people say that the best stories have no words. It is true that words drop away, and that the important things are often left unsaid. The important things are learned in faces, in gestures, not in our locked tongues. The true things are too big or too small, or in any case always the wrong size to fit in the template called language.”
- Jeanette Winterson
This meeting was no different than any other. No different from the hundreds of meetings in the days, the months before. Where I’m on to the next meeting while attending the one in front of me. Meetings with a replicated loop. Mind whirring…processing. Me pushing. Me prodding. Agitating. Me wanting and needing more. Extraction. Creating discomfort. Manufacturing urgency. I’m not looking for you to love me. That’s what your dog is for. This morning, my level of consciousness had been ratcheted up by a few lines from Daniel Bor the night before. And, I roll into the first meeting of the day. I’m listening. I’m watching.
I’ve been watching the debates and the bad actors in government. I’ve concluded that I’m a master compromiser when compared to this crowd. Then the mirror swings around and hits me on the forehead. See the chart below. Here’s Michael Brown’s 4-box on Compromise. I have no idea what “TKI” and “MBTI” stand for. Check out his full post on the theory behind it – I’ll let you hash that out with Michael and his high brow intellectual friends. I just wanted (needed) to get to the bottom line – how do I score? (Yes, it is always about the score. Yes, it is.) See the arrow pointing to my position. (And no one was looking when I nudged the star over to the right with some elbow grease. Hey, at least I’m not in the bottom right, right?. Poets/Artists, save your breath. I’m immune to the beatings on my lack of sensitivity on this topic.)
Then coincidently (by now you know there are no coincidences on my ride), I trip into the answer…
“Forget what you’ve heard about first impressions; it’s the last impressions that count. Last impressions — whether they’re with customer service, an online shopping experience, or a blind date — are the ones we remember. They’re the ones that keep us coming back. But there’s one kind of final impression that people seem to forget. The closing line of email — that line that you write before you type your name — has been all but forgotten. Go take a look at your inbox: you might be astonished at how little attention people pay to the closing lines when writing email. This underrated rhetorical device is so frequently disregarded that many people have the gall to use an automatic closing line attached to their email signature file…If a closing line can be so meaningful, so important, why are emailers squandering the opportunity, putting no thought in the closing? Time, perhaps, iPhone-finger exhaustion, multi-tasking – they’re all possible excuses. And many times, acceptable ones. We can’t be expected to neatly tie up every email every time. But once in a while, it would be delightful if people applied the same sincerity to the last impressions that we do to first ones.”
As mass producer of emails, this email & chart left its mark…
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
Yes! This is so me…(Hopefully, perceived with the constructive element.)
Credit: Hugh McLeod @ Gapingvoid.com
I was flipping through emails after lunch today when I came across an email from a fellow blogger, Alex Jones @ The Liberated Way. Alex is from Colchester, 60 miles Northeast of London in the UK. Not unlike most other blogger relationships, I’ve never met Alex. I’ve never spoken to him. We have traded comments and links over the past month or so. I’ve come to appreciate his posts and his frequent and insightful comments on mine. And the wheels on the blogger bus keep turning. So, when I read Alex’ post this afternoon, I was moved. I was grateful. I was touched. I was humbled. What a wonderful, thoughtful and unexpected gift on Father’s Day. Thank you Alex. You made my day.
Alex’s post reminded me of the great bloggers who had recognized me for various awards. I’ve been a non-participant in the awards process (grist for another future post) – - so, we have Alex to thank for pushing me over the tipping point.
I don’t believe that I’ve read a better self-help post in the past year. Tony Schwartz turned 60 and these are his reflections. He is the author of Be Excellent at Anything. This post is from the HBR Network and it’s titled: Turning 60: The Twelve Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned So Far. I find his insights remarkable…
- “Humility is underrated…deepening self-awareness is essential to freeing ourselves from reactive habitual behaviors…
- “Notice the good – we carry an evolutionary disposition to dwell on on what’s wrong – take time each day to notice what right and to feel grateful
- “Never seek your value at the expense of others…devaluing the person will only prompt more of the same in return”
- “Slow down. Speed is the enemy of nearly everything in life that really matters. It’s addictive and it undermines quality, compassion, depth, creativity, appreciation and real relationship.”
- An on and on and on. I’ve excerpted most of his post below so I can return to it frequently. (Now, only to execute…)
“Transience is the most general phenomenon of the cosmos. Change is the only changeless reality. Seasons, livelihoods, personal relationships – all of these will change. Our experiences in life are transient and relative. Only death is certain, completing the cycle of life that begins with birth. By meditating upon this truth, we recognize that we, too, are manifestations of transience. When we understand this teaching deeply, we become humble and sincere. We treasure each moment and endeavor to do our best. We feel less stress and become more accepting of the diverse phenomena of life. If something good happens we can feel the joy and be thankful. But we know that the conditions for the situation will not last forever, and we do not become attached to the feeling. We will simply consider every moment and every experience as a blessing.”
- Ilchi Lee (via Whiskey River)
A colleague had announced his resignation. It has taken a few weeks for the news to settle in – - and it has with mixed emotions. I’m happy for him…a fresh start with a young, rapidly growing enterprise. He has his skip back in his step – a gleam in his eye. A firm that has identified someone with an abundance of soft and hard skills. With cross functional expertise. With an ability to develop relationships. Not a glory hound, he delivered results. Period. And he didn’t care to blow smoke up the line. As one of my colleagues would say: “He’s all steak, no sizzle.” I didn’t ever see him raise his voice. Or get angry. I never saw him cave to political winds. He held his ground firmly and professionally and if the decision turned the other way, he’d “pick up his tools” and go back to work.
On one of his last days, he made his 1.5 hour commute (each way) just to have breakfast with me and to say thank you. I hired him into the firm and he said he “was grateful for the experience and for our relationship.” I sat across from him at the table…melancholy.
He’s picking up and moving south to re-fire his career. He’ll lose the nasty commute and finally get his close knit family into that house on the lake that he’s long been dreaming about.
In HR terms, he’ll be described as a “Regrettable Leave.” I’ll just call it a friend and a very good man lost. Lost to me and the firm.