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31 Jan

Train the Trainer in Aisle 1

When I stepped into the grocery store yesterday, I was mad at myself for not squeezing my son’s annual ortho appointment in before 2016 ended. I had just picked up the mail and found the bill for about $300 from his January appointment. I knew that I blew that one and I was beating myself up over it.

Next thing I knew, I had inadvertently knocked a box of wine off the shelf in Aisle 1. I got the attention of a very friendly employee (a little shout out to Fareway) who acknowledged the spill and contemplated how we might make this work. I said I would stay by the spill so nobody slipped. It was during this wait that I participated in some “train the trainer.” I identified my negative frustration emotion (self-awareness) and told myself that I would miss out on too much during this grocery trip if I didn’t deal with it appropriately (self-management). I know it may seem silly to you but EI is a skill that requires choice and practice every day.

By letting it go, I could be present in the moment. I chatted with several people as they walked by the spill and I got to know the employee better who was cleaning up the mess. I would have missed out on all of this if I would have just kept playing the “I can’t believe you didn’t take Spencer in 2016 for a $10 co-pay rather than a $300 bill.”

This EI self-awareness and self-management applies to so much in our lives at home and work. How many times do you leave a meeting frustrated with a colleague or your boss? You go back to your desk and attempt to do the next thing on your to do list, but you keep playing the “What a jerk” tape over and over until you’re unfocused and your work is suffering. You take the same tape home to vent to your partner and consume your night. Next time this happens, stop yourself. Identify the emotion, intellectually decide what if anything you can do about the problem, and then manage yourself so that you don’t rob one more minute of your day.

I’m waiting now for some test results (not life threatening) for another son. I’m worried, but I can identify that worry and understand that it’s out of my hands. I don’t want to rob my teenage son from real time with his “Unhip Old Mom.”

14 Jan

It’s O.K. We know “he doesn’t play.”

I have a 15 year old son who started playing basketball for the first time in 8th grade. When the first game rolled around, he barely knew the rules let alone any of the plays. He stuck with it, though, and got some play time since he was still in middle school and there was an “A, B, and C” game. He moved into 9th grade at the high school and thought long and hard about going out for basketball. He knew there would be little if any play time at this level—there’s just one game and the team needs to win.

He did decide to join the team, though, and as expected, he barely ever plays. Although it might be a little frustrating for him, he gets it and isn’t upset or bitter (on most days anyway). We get it, too. We don’t have any complaints and if the coaching was left up to us, we would most likely be playing the same kids with the same will to win!

It’s the bleachers that bring me to this blog. I love to watch the other parents and interact with them. They don’t know what to say since “he doesn’t play,” though. They aren’t sure how we’re taking it, if we have complained to the coach and the administration, or if maybe we simply don’t understand that you need to start this sport when you’re 5 and travel till you drop. They look us over and probably figure that we, too, were poor athletes or at best grew up in a small town where everybody got to play because there were barely enough kids to make the team. Nobody waves at us when we enter the gym to come sit with them or banters with us when they head out for some popcorn. When we work the concessions, they do everything possible to talk about anything but “he doesn’t play.” I feel horrible when I compliment other parents on their son’s success during the game. I see their eyes roll back and their blood pressure go up for what in the world are they going to say after their initial gracious response.

I never see pictures on Facebook of the kid who “doesn’t play.” I should probably lead the charge. If you are the parent of a successful athlete, please know that the “don’t play” parents like you and are happy to visit. Most of us are probably thrilled that our student is active and is getting much needed exercise in this day and age of youth obesity. We still believe that a team activity is the first step to success in the workplace and a busy schedule makes a better schedule when it comes to organization and academic success. I also believe strongly that we learn a whole lot in preparation for life when we sit on the bench and swallow our pride.

All of this said, I’m going to try a new outfit for the next game. Maybe I just need to dress more like a “Winner” Mom!

11 Jan

It’s in the Mail

I love to send cards, notes, letters, and greetings. I understand the value of social media for myself personally and professionally, but when I sit down with a pen in hand, I get to think about the individual who will receive the communication and visit with them for a bit. I get to listen, too, as I must choose my words for the person and think about where they are in life right now. What is filling their plate and taking their precious time? What are they managing mentally, emotionally, and physically? When I’m sending to a friend, I reflect on the special times our paths have crossed. When I’m sending to a professional business prospect, I imagine where our paths will cross in the future.
It gets better, though. I get to put an address and a stamp on this card, note, letter, or greeting. I get to think about the weather in their area and shiver or smile accordingly. I think about the journey my mail will take and the hands and machines that will touch it on the way. It is a trip worth a thousand words. During these travels, I get smiles for free as I think about the unsuspecting recipient going about their life’s routine.
And finally, my card, note, letter, or greeting will arrive at its destination. It might be a mailbox on the house, at the end of the drive, at the end of the lane, or an inbox in the office suite or on the desk. If it lands in the hands of a friend or family member, they will surely sigh and smile but for a moment. If it lands in the hands of a current or future client, they might smile and toss or if my timing is right, they might smile and communicate right back.
Our email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, will keep us up to date and in the know. Our cards, notes, letters, and greetings will be touched and treasured. Send one today!!