Learning from Life

Did you ever have one of those days where you are just killing it at one time and then 10 minutes later you’re thinking, why are these words coming out of my mouth, stop talking. It’s like a Jeckle and Hyde situation where one minute you’re rocking out all the things and the next you’re flailing like you weren’t just the exact person who gave advice on the topic. That was me recently. For sake of saving face we’ll call this all experimentation and leave out that I was actually flying by the seat of my pants for some of it (which typically yields not great results) and reflecting on it after the fact. I conducted a number of experiments but I’ll provide only a few examples.

Talking with Take the Credit Tim. There is a peer of mine who consistently chooses to ignore and forget my role. That sounds harsh right? Maybe I’m being sensitive, maybe it isn’t intentional, maybe I’m not as valuable (and therefore memorable) in that area which is why he neglects to remember. I appreciate and have considered those things but, that’s not it. When determining strategy, planning, and forecasting I am not invited to the table. However, when the work needs to be completed I am remembered, called upon, and my opinion is sought on the strategy that was laid out. Tim always appreciates and implements my thoughts but it is only as an afterthought to the greater meeting and in practice, changes are laid out as his ideas with a pat on the head to me for sparking some inspiration. Well, that came to a head. I was over it. I have been sweet with him in the past giving reminders and asking to be brought in. I have been direct, telling him I was frustrated by this pattern. This time I played a new card and didn’t give him any ammo to aid in his strategy just asked questions. It felt smarmy and manipulative but I didn’t feel like I had any other options. The next part is what got to me though. I vented about it, like it was my job. I complained to a co-worker, my husband, my mom, I even told my kids an age appropriate version that served as a fable of sorts. Don’t take people’s help and intelligence for granted or you might not get access to it anymore. This was maybe not my best moment.

Sometimes It’s best that I just keep the camera off.
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Agreeing with Out of Control Agatha. I was asked to join a call where the intent was to bring the brightest people available on a topic from a variety of backgrounds together to solve a problem. There was a limited framework laid out around how the solution should fit that served primarily as guideposts with lots of room to make a proposal in between. We got an example recommendation on a possible solution that was just not going to work but that was the point of the group, find something that did, then present back to the people who had the ask in the first place. (Ok so you know I’m all about finding your development opportunities, this. is. one.) This would be an amazing opportunity to demonstrate leadership abilities and network, not only with the folks considered to be the brightest in their field but also with the people orchestrating the ask. This could be a chance to make a great impression with some people in high places who can then mentor and potentially advocate for you. Only problem was that Agatha was in the group. Agatha was so focused on the example solution being wrong that she spent the call insulting the people on it, yelling at the person who called the meeting, and basically inspiring anger in the rest of the group. Well, I agreed with her but could not let that opportunity go to waste based on her interaction. I jumped in and acknowledged her concerns but suggested that we use another similar process as inspiration and move forward.

Empathy with the Elementary Schooler. My middle man loses his cool sometimes and cannot get it back. He screams like someone is stabbing him sometimes when he gets upset and hyperventilates repeating, ‘I am the worst kid.’ It is hard to watch and after long spans of time I lose my patience. He was standing in front of me outside screaming about something that didn’t go his way but in my mind wasn’t that big of a deal. He had made a poor choice and I had given a slight consequence, I’m old school and we believe in consequences for all actions (I think it was to discuss the choice and how he could make a better one next time, so not that old school.) Because I made him stop doing what he was doing and he was embarrassed by his mistake he lost it. Then, so did I. Here we are standing in the middle of a 40 acre woods him screaming he’s the worst and me screaming back louder, ‘Just stop! Take a freaking breath!” (effective right?) I am sure the distant neighbors could hear and were super glad we moved in. Once I could see myself through his eyes, the person who is supposed to fix things is standing there yelling at him shouting directions that feel impossible, I realized how my response escalated the whole thing.

So yes, it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride but I am so grateful for each and every minute of it. Daily life never ceases to amazing me as the blessings and lessons just seem to fly in from every angle. I’d bet you’re already conducting your own experiments, make something of them, learn from them, grow from them. You don’t need a fancy conference someplace warm to develop into the person you’re becoming, work with what you have. A few lessons, and gratitude, I picked up from my experiments:

  • I am thankful that I was able to implement a new solution with Tim. Jury is still out on if it will be effective but at least I’m not doing the same thing and expecting a new outcome.
  • I am thankful that after a day or complaining I saw the impacts that was having on me, my relationships, and my output. I was able to put a cap on it once I realized.
  • I am thankful I can discern lessons from Agatha without going through that myself. I learn a lot from my own mistakes, it’s sort of refreshing to learn from others’ some times.
  • I am thankful that I can still learn from an elementary school student. He doesn’t mean to hold up a mirror but he’s great at it. I may not win mom of the year but I’m getting better every day.

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