WHO ARE YOU TODAY?
I woke up a few mornings ago and after rolling around for awhile under the covers to try to protect myself from our adorable, new puppy’s incredibly sharp, blood-drawing, epithet-producing baby teeth, (seriously, she’s just turned four months old and has already won the hearts of every person she’s met but you should see the number of band aids on my arms and legs!), I sat up and said out loud to myself, “Who are you today??”
I know, it sounds like a weird question, I mean I know my name, address, phone number and social security number, but who am I - and not on just any day, but on this day?
My answer came back, “Maybe a better question is who do you want to be?”
And that stirred up a really interesting dialogue.
- “Well, today,” I said to myself, I want to be clear. (Sometimes I get so excited about something I’m talking about that I leave the listener in the dust – which doesn’t work all that well if you’re trying to pitch a new idea or make a new friend…)
- “And I want to be a really, really great listener.” (Given that I’m an executive and life coach, talking all the time doesn’t uh, walk the dog.)
- “And since I’m seeing my daughters for dinner later,” I said, “I want to have my sense of humor in rare form!” (Kate and Abigail are two of the funniest people I know.)
- “Oh, and I want to be optimistic! Yeah, today, I want to be really upbeat!” (It was bitter cold, rainy, snowy and windy outside and I didn’t want my spirits to dampen. Plus, I was sick of hearing myself complain about the weather – or anything else for that matter.)
- “Wait!” I shouted to myself, thinking we were done: “There’s one more thing!” and it’s a doozy. Are you ready?” (I nodded solemnly.) “I want to be the one who doesn’t get worked up! I’ve been getting worked up a lot lately about a bunch of little stuff and it’s time I stopped it. Or at least did it less! Got it?!” (I nodded slowly and rolled my eyes.)
It was an interesting day, to say the least. But, the question is, how’d I do???
Well, I vowed not to go easy on myself just because I was both the “student” and the “teacher.” So, I mean, it’s not like I got “straight A’s… (In fact, every category was an “area of needed improvement,” as they say in grade school.)
But here goes:
- Be Clear: B- I was better I but still go off on tangents which, colorful as they are, can get tiresome for the listener. If he’s still there… (He was still there but he left early…)
- Be a Good Listener: B+ A little weaker than I’d like, but definitely better. I still need to concentrate harder on the story my “partner” is telling (rather than focusing on refining my own punch line…) But hey, I’m getting there.
- Have a Sense of Humor: A- Fundamentally, I’m a funny person. Seriously. (I got into Yale Drama School because of my “comic timing”…) But the other day someone threw me a “light” criticism meant to elicit a slight grin and maybe a shrug, and I responded with a dark frown and an “eye roll.” (Hence the “minus” on the “A.”) But at least the eye roll got a laugh… “Hey Gail,” I said out loud, ‘lighten up, will ya?!”)
- Don’t Get Worked Up!: B- Okay, not the “A” I wanted, but a solid improvement! I’d said to Abigail when I was working on this exercise, “So what do I usually get worked up about?!” And she responded (a little too promptly), “Everything!” I didn’t argue; I laughed.
So my new mantra is “Let it go, Gail!”
But now the question is “Who am I today?”
And…who are you?