Yesterday, I sent a document of critical importance for next-day delivery, guaranteed to arrive before 10:30 AM.
After multiple calls and promises, the package has yet to arrive, inconveniencing many people and drastically disappointing the recipient.
At one point, the dispatcher said it was impossible for the package to be delivered before 5:30 PM because the driver was on the other side of town.
Which translated to…
Of course, UPS could get it there if we deviated from our efficient plan, made a special effort, and used more of our resources, but, frankly
- our promise to you is relative in importance;
- we have bigger fish to fry;
- things go wrong and you just have to live with our failures (even if it is painful).
The whole experience reminded me of my own failures to deliver what I have promised for the above reasons.
Most of us have promised something that seemed easy to deliver at the time, but became an “expensive” choice later. You may have discovered, as I have, that the most expensive choice was choosing not to have enough integrity to do what we said we’d do.
Today, a women working in a bakery saw me. She saw me as a valuable being and not just another customer in a long line of customers, or another obligation in a long line of obligations. It was a rare and special treat…sweeter than the cake she helped prepare.
There are a few things in life that refresh our souls in a manner that nothing else can. I had two of them today: the first crisp and cloudless day of Autumn, and an encounter with a remarkable human being in an unremarkable place.
Which is worse:
- Getting a divorce or secretly wishing your spouse would die?
- Leaving a boss that really needs you or incessantly talking bad behind that boss’s back?
- Telling the truth or leading someone to believe you love them when you don’t?
- Disappointing someone by not following their advice or secretly hating them for ruining your life?
Sometimes, we lie to ourselves and to others to protect what is un-protectable. Sometimes our fear of violating mores prevents us from seeing the forest for the trees. Sometimes our judgment has been seriously compromised and we don’t know it. Sometimes we have valued appearances more than real wisdom.
When our lives feel too complicated, they usually are. Changing the question from what looks right to what is right is the first step to simplicity.
And, sometimes, changing the question yields a third, and better, option.
A disgruntled employee told me she could write a book about the dysfunctional communication in her company. After finally accepting some of the responsibility for the dysfunction, she is now sending me copies of praise emails she is sending and receiving from her team. The latest ended with this exclamation:
“…tears of joy! How can you not feel positive when you’re making other people feel good?! Thanks for having such a positive impact on my life – work and personal.”
There is only one big obstacle (ourselves)
Separating us from this joy (ourselves)
But, when scaled
Leaves us with more
Than we ever
Dared to dream
The fast train to better, sweeter, and richer communication…
Years ago, in an attempt to nudge an introverted friend toward a management position, I mentioned that (A) there were not many bosses who were both smart and sensitive, (B) that she had both qualities, and (C) how tragic it would be if these gifts were not fully utilized for those who desperately needed leadership.
She reluctantly agreed to try. Fifteen years later, hundreds, maybe thousands, (who would have been forced to work for a jerk in her absence) have been the beneficiaries of her direction.
People with kindness, wisdom, and gravitas leave an indelible mark on lives and organizations. They pull us toward them, toward our higher selves, and toward the realization that noble living is more than something we see in movies.
In Stop Workplace Drama, Marlene Chism says that her personal “mission statement,” ICARE (Improving Communication and Relationships Everywhere) has given her constant clarity to step away from drama in her own life.
Frequently, we fall into mediocrity and poor communication patterns (at home and work) because we have not clearly defined who we are and what is at stake.
She suggests that to get this clarity, we must start by asking the following questions:
- Who am I?
- What do I want?
- What am I committed to?
Marlene and I have this in common; after answering these questions, we decided it was no longer necessary to be a victim or to play the martyr. It was possible to set boundaries with ourselves and with others.
“Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard.” – Mac Anderson
I’m the kind of person who gives up too easily. I can’t stay focused on a task for any length of time without despairing.
Since I know that about myself, I have learned to break up tasks into tiny “wins” so that I can make it to the end…inch by inch.
If I don’t, I will lose interest before I even get halfway there.
I hope you have more discipline than I do. And, I also hope that when you want to give up, you will keep going inch by inch…if only for those of us who are always looking for proof that it is worth it.
Even if we get past Monday, going to work is hard.
- we learn to treat everyday the same
- find joy inside instead of outside
- decide that life is about giving instead of getting
- resolve to make the most of wherever we are
Happy Tuesday. This is the day we make life better for the people around us.
I swatted unsuccessfully at a fly in my house. Two days later, the fly was still following me around like a pet. In a few more days he would be dead on the windowsill, so I tried to lead him to the door, which, of course, did not work.
The fly reminded me of me as a corporate employee:
- I got swatted a couple of times for stupid stuff.
- Afterwards, I pretended to be a friend of management (while bad-mouthing them behind their backs).
- Unable to forget the swats, I resisted their efforts to help me (which were legitimate).
- Eventually, I would end up in the “corporate graveyard.”
We so often resist those who offer us insight: bosses, exes, family, friends, authority figures, teachers, co-workers, etc., while flitting around with frantic, clueless self-preservation efforts.
I love this quote that the greatest gift I can give to the world is my own self-transformation, because it’s something I can get to work on even if I don’t have employment, prospects, money, credentials, teachers, supporters, or one good thought about my life.
A client told me that she decided not to be bitter and negative anymore, so she found a YouTube video about getting rid of negativity and made a commitment to watch it everyday. The next time I saw her she looked ten years younger.
The ripple effect of her self-transformation not only reached her face, it reached me, her employers, her co-workers, her employees, her children, her significant other, her ex, and countless people in her future.
Her life has been transformed into one big gift.