Say that again

A how-to-do-webinars webinar from Zoom told me that I should repeat questions three times in order to get the attention of the participants.

Three times. Webinars are so annoying right? No one pays attention!

Well…

This week reminded me that getting things wrong is far more common than getting it right.

There are so many many many ways to get it wrong! And only one way to get it right.

That’s how it is. I’m going to have to come back around and do it again to get it right.  First pancake is always a disaster? It’s not just pancakes, I fear.

First time is not the charm. If I’ve ever gotten it right the first time it was a fluke.

And yet. I hate making mistakes.

Some mistakes are barely noticeable. Drop a cookie? 5 second rule, pick it up and I’m back on my way.

Some mistakes hurt. They hurt me and they hurt others. I know that crushing disappointment in myself: regret and shame.

How do I make it right?  What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get it right?

Didn’t I just finish saying that mistakes are inevitable? I still feel like there is something wrong with ME. How do I grapple with this?

This is how the world works. Mercifully, there is a corollary system: resiliency. We can recover and heal from mistakes. With patience and goodwill, things get on track.

Do-overs have to be part of the plan. And do-overs can include doing it over as something completely different. There is more than one way to do is right the second time.

With persistence, there will be a way to get to good.

It’s not helpful to have a get-it-right-right-now expectation. I will be disappointed.

I have to plan on a few tries. And keep trying.

Equally Impossible

Weekly wonder

Six months ago, our government asked us to stay home to avoid spreading the Coronavirus. No one expected that we would be home this long. I am in a situation I never thought I would have to face.

I am not sick, which is good. I am, however, trying to keep my spirits up. All my plans are impossible now. Or, at the very least, not possible NOW.

I hear people say they are trying to figure out what the new normal is going to be. And I hear other people say normal is never going to happen again.

But I never wanted to be normal.

I am thinking of a life maxim I found years ago. This was a time when I felt trapped and hopeless. Everything was impossible.

But if everything was impossible, then everything was equally possible. It’s algebra.

This maxim lets me shift my focus on the other variable in the equation. There is some possibility in everything.

It may be small, but I can look for it. Or I can believe in it.

Right now, looking for it takes imagination. What will be possible?

What can I imagine and what can I plan for?

I would love to go to Paris. That is something I can plan for. I can make sure I have a passport, and I can think of what I will pack. That is practical imagination.

I like my career, but what if I imagined a better one? What would that be like? What kinds of things would I need to know to make that upgrade? What could I start to work on?

Normal was a long time ago. This is a time for imagination. This space is intentionally blank. And I plan to fill it with intention.

What else is possible?

The Good Fight – by Liane Davey

I don’t like to fight.  I can be clear with my opinions, but sometimes when I get resistance, I can compromise to reach consensus. Can’t we all just agree?

I don’t like how that feels. I’ve had that after-the-fact burn when I didn’t stand up for myself. I’ve spent sleepless nights plotting how to turn things around to how I wanted it to go the first time.


I’d like to be poised and articulate in tense moments. That’s why I picked up this book. I was not disappointed. Liane Davey gets it. The Good Fight shares how she learned to take her “conflict avoidant” instincts and become a person willing to have the fight that needs to happen.

It’s not easy. We weasel our way out of it. She calls out the sneaky tactics. I know I’ve cheated and not invited the opposition to a planning meeting. I’ve thought “I already know that person won’t like it, so I’ll go AROUND him and get what I’m looking for.”

She calls this “conflict debt.” It is building up a bunch of baggage that will need to be dealt with eventually. And it doesn’t’ smell better with age.

I know I’ve wasted years of my life avoiding conversations. I’ve left jobs because I couldn’t see a way around it.

This book made me rethink everything. That one co-worker I couldn’t stand for YEARS? What if I’d said something earlier? How would things be different? Even if he didn’t change, I wonder if I would have been happier if I’d spoken and been true to myself.

And what if I tried it in now? That just got real.

Liane has chapters for that.  If I’m supposed to start a new habit of facing the conflict, I need some scripts. She has some good ones.

I like the “two truths” where she suggests stating the two viewpoints in conflict.

For example:

The customer says they didn’t get the equipment that was shipped.

The warehouse is hot, swearing that they shipped it.

I’m the PM so I call I meeting to come up with our plan. Warehouse is so mad they’re barely speaking. Salesguy is not about to back down.

After some tense discussion I say:

“Our customer says they did not receive the equipment. Warehouse says they shipped it. This can’t be the first time this kind of discrepancy has happened. What was done when this happened before?”

No blame. I stated things clearly. This broke the logjam. We got a plan for action that everyone could agree with.

Here’s what we avoided: months of back and forth finger pointing and business lost because of poor service to our customer.

That’s what developing a conflict habit can do. It’s not impossible. People can learn, and things can change.

I’d like more of that. I’m going to read this book more than once.

Written by Murphy

the view from the sidewalk

“Veronica, there is a romantic appreciation for eating on the sidewalk. Paris is famous for having tables outside where you can eat, drink and watch the people go by.”

At our table right below the interstate highway, there are no people walking by.  The Pandemic added the ambiance of tightly masked wait staff and roaring traffic. I shrugged “Here we can only watch cars drive by, not people.”

“Look mommy, there is a doggie! Care are interesting!”

I smiled, still grateful for the experience of being fed outside my home. Even cars driving by are novel right now.

Restaurants were not a thing in the oldest books I’ve read. Don Quixote and Shakespeare only have food in homes or inns. Restaurants came along later.

The prize for first restaurant goes to China, centuries before France got the idea. France started fancy restaurants about a hundred years before their famous revolution. This fits, because if France was the first to have meals served at a restaurant, they also had a counter-movement with the cafes.

Café in French, and in a lot of other languages – literally means Coffee.

You know how—when they are open—Starbucks is a nice place to buy a cup of coffee and hang out?

That’s what the Cafes started as. It’s too much of a commitment to buy a whole meal. But a coffee? Almost everyone can afford a cuppa joe. London had these Cafes as well, and all this egalitarian sitting around together had an effect. Ever hear of the Age of Enlightenment? All those diverse people mingling together and talking came up with some crazy ideas. Some of them stuck.

Isaac Newton, Hobbes, Galileo and the Thomas-es Paine and Jefferson are products of this coffee pot.

Having a place to explore ideas will change the world. The United States of America is directly a result if it.

But the time I was thinking of when I mentioned sidewalk cafes to my daughter was the glamorous Paris between the wars. Coco Chanel, Picasso, James Joyce and Josephine Baker ate on the sidewalk.

They didn’t have the interstate highway along with. But I think they were pretty sure the world was changing. They were doing everything they could to change it.  They were being as much themselves as they possibly could be, which changed everything.

I would sure like things to change for the better. I know I can’t do much to change other people, but I’d like to follow what those artists did. The best I can do for today is eat outside. That’s a little better.

And adding my little bit of wonder to the week is good too.