Too Broke to Pay Attention?

I admit it; there are various personality types, some of which clearly don’t take pride in paying attention. I had a boss once early in my career who emotionally tortured me into being amazing.  Here’s how it would go:

me: “What is the difference between x and y?”

boss: “I already gave you that information. Go through your emails until you find it.”

Well then.  I did what I was told.  I dug through my emails until I found what I was looking for (even though it was sent to me weeks/months prior).  The point, which I didn’t understand at the time, is that I was responsible for the information being provided to me.  She (yes, SHE) taught me that it isn’t her job to regurgitate information to me that had already been provided once.  That small step led me to realizing that I wasn’t actively engaged.  I was asking questions that could have been answered if I had just paid attention.  Paid attention to what I was listening to, paid attention to what I was reading, and paid attention to the task at hand.

The best person is the person who asks the right questions and gives the right answers.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to hear the ten minute back-story to a question that should have taken .2 seconds to respond to.  Help me understand how lack of proper communication has swept our professional industries like a plague of intellectual laziness?  When I communicate directions, or a question (quite clearly I must say), why does it take most people two or three semi-novel length responses before I get the answer?  These moments make up a lot of WTF moments throughout my day.  These are professional, highly educated, brilliant individuals I’m dealing with….and yet…. and yet the transfer of information is torturous.  There are many moments when I stare at my computer screen silently screaming “Answer the fucking question”.

Perhaps I am mean.  Perhaps I embody why female dominators in the workplace are deemed bitchy.  Regardless, my mantra is that if I have certain expectations for my children (my childrennnnn), then I should certainly have the same expectations from the colleagues I work with/for.  Let me give you an example….I have many to choose from.

me: “Child….love of my life….please wash your face, brush your teeth and pick out your outfit for tomorrow”.

kid: “ok”

me (ten minutes later): “Babe, I can see an oil slick on your face.  Did you wash your face?”

kid: “no, I didn’t hear you…sorry”.

Mmmhmm.  See how that goes.  Give three directives, get one back.  It’s like the 2-step with no awesome music.

I have decided that today is the day I will download my vast wealth of knowledge on the subject.  Here we go.  Wait for it…..

“Listen”.  That’s all it is.  When you read an email, listen to what is being said. What is being communicated to you and why? What is being asked for?  When you are verbally involved in dialogue, whether in a meeting or with your miniature human, listen.  Pay attention man…..good grief.  I can’t punish the professional adults in my life the same way I do my children, but I can certainly make it less pleasurable to deal with me than it would be if you were awesome and paid attention.  Don’t be that person.  Just don’t.

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Run with Scissors

The term “Running With Scissors” lends itself well in the world of rapidly changing IT deployments and operations.  It lends itself well when navigating chaotically through a parenting experience, or even the holiday season, for that matter.  We all teach our children “Don’t run with scissors!!!”.  Obviously, right….we don’t want to encourage falling aimlessly onto sharp objects.  Sometimes we have to run with scissors.  Sometimes the only way we can be everything to everyone, including ourselves, is to run with those same scissors we were warned about.

One of my favorite woman powerhouses in technology is Sheryl Sandberg. She is incredible – look her up right now, and sit in awe as you uncover how incredible a woman can be professionally.  Sandberg coined the logic “Lean In“, which essentially prompts women to put on their big girl panties and command a place at the table.  When you attempt to cross that logic over to life as a whole, including that which our entire lives are comprised of, you get my version, “Run with Scissors”.  We are to lean in.  We are to run with scissors in a brilliant effort to navigate to greatness. We are to grab a glass of wine and put the scissors down when we need to, but we are to always, always move with purpose.  The scissors, well, they represent the purpose we harness.

When I speak of running with scissors I want to be very clear – I am not being literal, nor am I suggesting we dive haphazardly into our daily regime. The world is a crazy place.  I don’t need a desperate housewife to have a scissor episode while wrapping Christmas presents.  Please. To run with scissors is to be acutely aware of the choices presented to us at all times, and their correlating consequences. Some days those choices pay off and sometimes they don’t.  I’d be lying if I said that anyone I personally know has their shit together.  I certainly don’t.  Yesterday I drove over 50 miles to work with a pair of kitchen shears on the hood of my truck.  Mind BLOWN.  I literally was driving with scissors, HAAA!  Today I am running with scissors by multi-tasking like the blonde ninja I was born to be; working from home, adoring my toddler as she sneaks in kisses, aggressively figuring out the grocery list, and writing this entry.  Don’t give up.

Move with purpose. Think with purpose.  Be effective. As I say to my teenager each morning, “Make Good Choices. Change the World!”.  How will you be deliberate in your actions today?