Have you ever thought about what you would ask for if you could be given superpowers? I often have and I always come to the same conclusion — I would want to read people’s minds. Whenever I give that answer others raise their eyebrows and think WHY!?! For me my biggest pet peeve, or strongest pain point, is trust and honesty. I often wonder how often are others really telling the truth and how often are they telling you what they think you want to hear.
I can take it — give me what you really think. I truly believe being honest and direct while sometimes hard — it is the only way to go truly deep. Going deep brings people closer together, it creates trust, bonds, and often allows others to open up. When we stay on the surface and never go deep, what is there to bring you closer together? Think about it in relation to a flower – the deeper the root the harder to pull out of the ground. I want those close to me in my life to have roots that are deep, and I would rather pull the loose flowers and remove them from my life.
Back to the superpower of reading minds. Many that have heard that as my response think “you would go crazy with all that information” and I think maybe, but it would be reality. A fun conversation with a friend last night makes me think of one other superpower that would be fun to have — but maybe slightly malicious. Have you ever been in a meeting with someone and they just got under your skin? They were rude, or condescending, or did not treat you with respect. You want to put them in their place, but you might not have the leverage to do so. Our fun conversation circled back to how fun (or funny) it would be if you had the power to make them poop their pants in a meeting every time they were rude to someone, or maybe a loud fart came from them. Maybe not the nicest thing to think about, but it might provide the comic relief to break barriers (among other things).
I continue to have conversations with individuals who ask me questions about how I might want to raise my son. I always have lots of ideas to share with them, but one in particular comes so strongly to me that I wanted to share with you. Honesty and trust.
You might find me out in left field, or strange, or just not at all mainstream, but I am not sure I want to raise my son by telling him lies. I wrote a blog about it last May — the idea that we basically lie to our kids about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny (and I am sure a lot more). Yet, I continue to be baffled that we want to teach our kids to tell the truth and have honesty and integrity, yet we somehow are horrible examples of that. Of course we want our kids to have mystery and adventure in their lives, but there has to be a better way.
Yes, I will try to find a way to be graceful about it all so that he does not ruin it for other kids, but I want to be honest with him and not create this world where he later finds out that the stories we tell about these holidays are all made up. How then have I truly taught him about trust, honesty, and integrity? We can still celebrate the real meaning of these holidays (which I wonder how much of that is really lost on so many kids because they learn this fairy tale rather than the essence and significance of these holidays).
This conversation keeps coming up, and it has brought about some interesting dialogue. Maybe I am rogue or on the fringe, or maybe we are not asking the right questions. As parents we should be the examples. My dad’s answer was often: “Because I said so.” Which I hated because it meant he either did not have a better answer, he was too lazy to explain it, or he just wanted to have control over what I thought. As exhausting as it might be I want to be transparent with this little boy entering the world and give him honest answers that help him weave together and make sense of an already complex world.
I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about a topic that tends to come and go in my life. It is one that always seems a bit hard to put into words. I can remember a time almost ten years ago when I was sitting on our bed in a loft we were living in. I had this surreal moment when I looked around and thought: all these things happening in my life are all a distraction to get me to not look at the painful stuff. A clearer thought was: working through the painful stuff is what moves you forward to that next level of understanding. It was not a fun time in my life. That day I was alone. Chris was traveling in China and life felt rough, bumpy, and not much fun.
The conversation from a few weeks ago circled back to that same feeling. Do we all have the craziest of lives because it keeps us distracted from the real and raw stuff we are supposed to be looking at the most? We do not want to so we stay hyper-focused on all that we have to do? We stay extremely busy, and then we never have to get really quiet and listen to that voice inside that tells us where we should really be looking? It has been true for me from time to time. I like to think that I am still listening even between all the many responsibilities and deadlines. Am I lying to myself though? Is it really possible? Or do you just need to walk away from it all, whether for a week, or month to really be able to see inside?
I just finished reading a book called “Dinner with Buddha” by Roland Merullo. At first it was a hard book to read. I could not get into it, and then as I found a few morsels of inspiration I was pulled into the quiet, thoughtful ideas inside. While it is a novel, it reads like a self-help book. There were quite a few ideas that come from the story and analogies the author shares. This idea in particular resonated as it made me think of that day ten years ago, and the conversation from a few weeks ago:
“Plugging along at monk-speed, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t all some kind of trick we were playing on ourselves. Maybe the more we crammed into a day the less we actually experienced. Maybe the addictive hurry was all a kind of racing away from our existential predicament, as if we could outrun old age and death, and as though, if we kept busy enough, kept moving, traveled farther, checked more items off the to-do list on any given day, then, like astronauts in orbit, we’d escape the bonds of ordinary time. Or escape, at least, the manic workings of our minds.” Page 118-119
Is that truly why we do so much? We are trying to get away from our minds and true thoughts? I sure hope not, but I can see it being true. I know it from the tricks my mind plays on me. Yet I want so badly to slow down, stop moving, get rid of the to-do list and live moment by moment into what my mind wants me to learn, however painful as it may be to look into all that is there for me to learn.
I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday about how we all end up doing so much — to the point of are we doing too much?
We probably are, and I am definitely one that falls into that camp. I like to help, I like to solve problems, I like to make things happen. Sometimes when you have your hands in too many pots, what suffers most is your own personal life. I mentioned how I love the weekends because somehow I feel like a person again. It is my time to recharge, refresh, and relook at the world in new ways. Yet, I wonder if I really should be doing that every day? My first inclination is to say: “Who has the time?” Partly that is true, and partly it is about making the time.
One of the ways that I do that is in the morning. I am not a morning person. I would rather drag out starting my day in more ways than one. I usually leave for work two hours after I get up in the morning. Unless of course I have an early meeting in which I either have to get up crazy early, or I have to give up my me time. I like to slowly get out of bed (you know, have the alarm go off a zillion times and hit snooze each time) rather than wake up by immediately taking a shower. Chris (the amazing husband that he is) makes our morning green smoothie while I shower, then I take my time drinking it while catching up on personal emails, articles, and maybe a dabbling of Facebook. That quiet time can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and I generally push it as long as I can. It is my “me” time.
Eventually he drops hints that it is time for me to get ready for work. I do, but often want to just finish that next thing or to hold those last few moments for me before I give myself over to a day of back-to-back meetings often without even time for lunch. When I get home, if I am not incredibly wiped out, my hope is that I get one more hour back to me for my run and to catch up on the book that I am reading. Then dinner, catch up on more work, and finally some blogging. Not much time in the day for much else.
Chris and I had the conversation over the weekend — if I was going to cut something out, what would it be? A tough decision. I want to do it all. I want to love it all. I want more hours in the day. Since that is not possible it often means less sleep, which is also not always the best answer.
What do you do when you are doing too much and you either do not want to edit or you do not know where to edit?
We are all drowning in email. No one likes it, everyone hates it, and yet it rules our life. It is true. How often do you send an email rather than picking up the phone? How often do you send an email rather than walking down the hall? I am just as much to blame. I like email for a few reasons:
_I have more control over my end of the conversation. I can say what I need to say, and be done. On a phone call, the conversation can go one of many directions. I might not be prepared or comfortable with those many directions.
_An email is an electronic copy of the interaction. Someone might tell you verbally they will meet a deadline, but when it is in writing you have a copy of that agreement. A phone call can be misinterpreted or does not keep that agreement in writing.
_I enjoy walking down the hall to see you and chat further, but it is not always as quick. I might get an immediate answer (and my question is not sitting in your inbox waiting) but five people might also stop me along the way, so it might not be the most efficient part of my day.
_Email allows you to respond on your time. That might be early in the morning, or late at night, but it is on your terms.
“Think of email as facilitating work, not as work in and of itself.”
For someone who is often in meetings all day, I can relate to this idea. Since I am rarely at my desk, email is often the way I can share information, ask questions, get updates, and communicate with my team. It does feel like it is the work, but I really like the idea of it just facilitating the work. That does not mean that we could not all use some of the tips from Rajeev Goel (CEO in the article). We can all be better, get rid of the extraneous and unnecessary emails, and find ways to be more streamlined and save everyone’s time.