Failure? Or….Bravery?

img_5568While doing chores the other night, I was watching You’ve Got Mail for about the twentieth time. There’s just something classy about that movie. And a lot of it is based around the holidays, so it’s sort of a Christmas movie. (For the record, Die Hard is most definitely a Christmas movie. In case you were wondering.)

There’s a part in You’ve Got Mail where Meg Ryan admits to her friends that she’s closing the store. The older lady, who had been a friend to her mother, said something I’ve heard before but it affected me differently this time. She said, “Closing the store is the brave thing to do.” When Meg Ryan protested, Birdie said “You’re daring to imagine that you could have a different life. Although it feels like you are a failure, you’re not. Marching into the unknown – armed with ….nothing. Have a sandwich.”

The sandwich part always cracks me up. But this time, what she said resonated with me for some reason. This past year didn’t turn out the way I hoped on a professional level and it’s really easy to view that as failure. It wasn’t anything horrible – I just expected to finish the year on a much better note. But you know what? It wasn’t really failure at all. I tried all sorts of different things this year: from adding new positions to my department to restructuring current jobs to revamping procedures. Some worked well and some failed miserably. After beating myself up a bit, I started to look at it from a different perspective.  What really happened is that I tried new things. Pass or fail, I tried them. What would’ve happened if I left things as they were? We would have still grown (but probably not as much) and more than likely did okay. But a lot of the risks we took this year have already paid off. In dividends. And the best part? I don’t have to wonder what would happen if I did try something new – because I already took those risks and experienced the outcomes. Now, we can go forward and make new adjustments and take new risks – all because we’ve tried the alternatives already.

The one thing that was constant about this past year was change. At one point, I practically made a plea for no one to change or leave their job for at least six months – because it was so hard to keep up with the changes and we needed to recover. One other quote from the movie is “People say change is good thing. What they’re really saying is that something you didn’t want to happen, has happened.” For the most part, I can agree with this. However – change is also something that you can control. Especially if you don’t like your current situation or think/believe you can change it for the better. There may be risk involved, but there can be a reward at the end of it as well.

Last year there was so much change that we wanted to just survive it. This year was a year of experience- we learned so much through all the changes, that we’re looking forward to making next year brilliant. The way I look at it, this next year wouldn’t be as successful if we hadn’t gone through the past two years of change and growth.

So, if you have something in front of you that requires bravery – along with change you may or may not want to happen – just imagine you could have a different life. I have no clue what that looks like for you, but the fun part is when you dare to make the dream a reality.

You just have to go into the unknown. Hopefully armed with a sandwich.

When It Just Doesn’t Work…And Then It Does

This one could also be called “Perspective Brings Contentment” but that just sounds boring, right?

If you read my last post, you know that last week was a “fun” week for me.  Looking back, I could have handled so many things differently.  (Self-reflection has been a thing for some of us at work this past year and man – is it ever a joy.  Sike.)  It wasn’t the worst, but I let so many things affect me in a negative way that, if viewed in a different light, really weren’t the end of the world.  They were hard and there was no getting out of them, but totally deal-able.  (For those of you who have been trying to tell me this for weeks/months/years, you can say it now.  You told me so. And I’ll say this – you were right.) Some things I handled well and there were lots I didn’t.

It started with someone calling out for two days whom we were almost sure was going to end up quitting.  This person was just plain miserable in what they were doing.  While they were out, yours truly was covering for them and found a lot of incomplete items and some items simply not even started.  Then, there was an incident that was not our fault, but some of our fault, that I ended up taking the fallout for.  Talking to a friend that night, I asked for some advice as it seemed I needed to do something differently.  “Be simple and to the point” he said.  “Don’t be wordy, just state the issue, tell them to do their job and move on.”  Guess what?  I was given an opportunity to use that advice the next morning and it was pretty dang effective.  See?  I listen.  Sometimes.

So by Wednesday morning my blood pressure was up to 137/107 and I was completely done in.  We have a team meeting on Wednesday mornings and, since one of my guys took ownership of that meeting, I get to take a step back.  (Yay for delegation!) During the meeting, he eluded to some of the issues and asked me to elaborate.  I laid out some of the issues and basically said that everyone needed to be there everyday and get their own work done and stop worrying about everyone else.  (I swear I can almost relate to parents some days! lol) A few of the guys took up the mantle and started to motivate the rest of them.  It was pretty entertaining actually.

Afterwards, one of my employees caught me in the shop and asked me to walk with her.  She wanted to offer to take over the job of the first guy in this story as she has done the job before.  Her current job was pretty streamlined and would be a better fit for the first person that was struggling.  We talked about it, worked out some kinks and guys, I practically cried.  For those of you who know me, I cry about four to maybe six times a year so that’s something.  This was a HUGE weight off of my shoulder as she was previously going to transfer to another department but decided she couldn’t leave me. (Right??? How cool is that?)

We offered the job transfer, everyone was happy and they started cross-training.  All by lunchtime. Yep.  We didn’t mess around on this one.  When she did go to lunch, she brought me back a little present.  (I may or may not have almost cried again.) It’s little and simple, and men’s (LOL) but they brought me back socks that said “World’s Best Boss”.  People apparently go to lunch at Target and it’s a beautiful thing.

Another cool part of this story is a verse my friend sent me that Monday morning.  Neither she nor I had any idea of how it was going to be a part of all of this, but that is one of my favorite parts.  Check out Ephesians 3:20.  Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 

When she gave me this verse, it was about another work/life issue entirely, but do you see how well it worked in this situation?  I didn’t come up with that idea, wasn’t even in part of my strategy – at all.  Something was going on behind the scenes that I had no idea about and guess what?  It was more than I even asked or thought.

If that wasn’t good enough, I drug my fine self to church on Sunday (it was one of those days I wanted a date with my bed but my friends convinced me to go) and got totally God-slapped.  This is where the perception leads to contentment thing comes in.  The lesson was this – our perspective has a direct link to our contentment.  Who we go through things with, how we react to them, what we learn from them and how we benefit from them is all related.  Rewind the past week or two and, if viewed with a different perspective, my experiences would be a great deal different.  More than likely in the positive light.

Here’s one of the things we say at work a lot though – “Mistakes are proof you are trying”.  If I wasn’t going through some of the things I did/am still going through, there would be no lesson to learn.  Nothing to fall back on to do differently or try another way.  The reward, once it comes, will be that much sweeter because I had to work harder for it.  And the lessons learned on the way – priceless.

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My present 🙂