Thursday, September 26, 2013

You Do Better When You Try Easier

"Show me how you get clear, and I’ll show you who you are." Understanding how you approach ambiguity is an good thing to know about yourself. When you’re feeling scared or anxious or confused or overwhelmed, the best thing you can do is find your territory. The place you go to make sense of the world. The closed feedback loop that brings you back to center. For me, writing is what I do when I don’t know what to do. The process of purging my thoughts, stringing sentences together, scattering papers across the floor, doodling on the walls, listing out my feelings, fleshing out ideas and finding connections between disparate thoughts, this is my territory. This is where I do my best work. This is where I feel most alive. If I go too long without locking into this mode, even for a few minutes, I don’t feel like me. So occasionally I have to remind myself, they need you to be you. You take yourself with you, wherever you go.

"You do better when you try easier." Every time I get an envelope that says important information enclosed, a huge smile sweeps across my face. Junk mail is the definitive reminder of just how real psychological compensation is. Especially from an organizational perspective. When paychecks come in the mail, they don’t tell me how important they are. They don’t have to. I can literally see the money through the transparent window. When birthday cards come in the mail, they don’t tout their value. They don’t have to. I recognize my grandmother’s handwriting on the address. So I open the envelopes immediately. But with companies, it’s different. They know what they’re sending is junk. So they overcompensate by telling me how important the information is. And I recycle the envelope as soon as I get upstairs. The point is, if a company has to tell me they are, they probably aren’t. 

"Prosecuting ourselves for crimes past." Nobody comes home from working thinking they’re the idiot. The human instinct is to externalize blame. To find all the ways everybody else was wrong, thereby making ourselves innocent through process of elimination. Which probably helps us sleep better. The only problem is, if we all think this way, there’s a diffusion of involvement. If everybody assumes somebody else will take action, nobody takes action. I try to find ways to make it my fault. Even if it wasn’t. It’s a healthy exercise in humility, efficiency and self-awareness. It’s an easy way improve my own performance. Plus it gives me license to say how stupid everybody else is without feeling guilty.