Thursday, June 4, 2009

On letting go, and being good

Lately, I've had some stuff on my mind that left me in need of a confidant with similar experience, a sympathetic ear, and some good advice. So, I invited a friend out to lunch.

This friend and I have known each other for years. I count her as one of the best of the "good people" at work. By which, of course, I mean the people who see the world as I do :-)

As I've mentioned before in this blog, I've been stressed lately. The economy is hitting hard, even on our strong business. Performance reviews are coming. The guidelines I need to follow for those reviews are stringent, and in some cases run contrary to what I'd do with my limited recognition budget if I had free reign. I needed someone to talk to. Someone in the same boat.

My friend listened, commiserated, then gave me some great, straightforward advice.

First, don't own the outcome of every decision. If you made the decision, definitely own it. If not, do your best under the circumstances, but don't hold yourself responsible for the quality of that decision.

It's not about abdicating. During a decision making process, I'll still fight like heck to get the right decision made. Once it's made, I'll do my best to make whatever is called for happen. But there's a difference between that, and having to believe, deep down, that every decision made is the right one. Or holding myself personally responsible for a decision that I fought against and lost, as if I'd made that decision myself.

Don't let them eat at you. Put them aside. Recognize them. Do your best to live with them, and to follow through on them. But don't own them.

Her second bit of advice was counter-intuitive, at first. When you're having a bad day...when you're feeling like the leaders around you maybe don't get it and are sometimes making things worse...go out of your way to do something nice for someone else. Make someone's life at work a little easier. Go beyond, on purpose.

Here's the genius part: First, it'll make you feel good. Helping other people is a reward unto itself. Second, that person will be so happy. They'll notice and remember that you helped them out. Great for your relationship with that person. Finally, you'll be setting an example. That other person might, or might not, be seeing some of the same oddities in leadership around him. Regardless, you'll have provided a real, positive example of what leaders can (and, through you, ARE doing) to help.


She's my good friend. She's also a great leader. I learn from her often, and I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to do so.

Thank you.

Food log:

Breakfast: yogurt with blueberries and granola, and a bowl of mixed fruit

Lunch: Half order of California Pizza Kitchen's "Thai Crunch" salad. Yummy. Cabbage, peanuts, edamame, crunchy noodles and chicken, lightly dressed with a spicy peanut sauce.

Dinner: two slices of leftover pepperoni pizza, steamed green beans, and a glass of milk

Snacks: a granola bar


  1. That doing something nice for others thing is tough to remember and even harder to follow through on. I think it is karma and if you do good for others it will come back at some point somewhere, maybe not how you expected but critical never the less.

    I am amazed at your food log. The meal log is one of the best ways to stay true to your calories. I did that in college and when you start to write it all down you see just how much you eat.

  2. Thanks Julia. I need to make sure I keep it up, especially over the weekends. That's when it's hardest, due to lack of energy by the time evening rolls around, and due to the availability of snack foods in the house.

    I think you're onto something. Doing something nice when you're stressed is going to be HARD to remember. I'm thinking of some way to remind me...maybe a string tied around my finger...worked when I was a kid :-)