Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Learning to land

Recently I experienced what you might call a collision with circumstance.  Two unrelated events coincided, and it got ugly for a short time.  It was not disasterous by any stretch of the imagination, but it was one of those life events where I was devastated for a short time. In the scheme of things, this is not a big deal. Nobody was hurt, and nobody was embarrassed except for me. No risks were taken.  Nobody's reputation was destroyed, and no animals were harmed in the making of the mistake.  Nevertheless it haunted me for 5 solid days and was "news worthy" in my life, at least.

When I was in journalism school, I remember having a discussion about what constitutes news.  We said that news is the exception to the rule. It's the good and the bad and it's things that at the very minimum make you say, "hmmmmm".  In journalism school integrity, honesty and respect were drummed into our heads.

We knew that we would be beaten within an inch of our professional credentials if we were to "recreate" a story, or misrespresent the facts in some way.  If you have ever been subjected to Jim McKenzie's scrutiny, you will understand what I mean.  Palms moisten. Sweat begins to form on the brow.  It didn't take much.  We learned to do our homework to pass the Jim test.

So in my professional life, I do not cross the boundaries that were set for me way back then. I dot my I's and cross my T's.  I stick to what is true and accurate, and I do my best to uphold this standard for my department. But I am human, nonetheless, and I do err.

J-school taught me to have a high bounce factor. I pride myself on being resilient which helps me to survive the times that I do occasionally disappoint myself or others.  When I fall, it hurts. But usually I spend very little time on the fact that I fell, and more on the "how I am going to pick myself up and keep going" question.

There is only way that I know how to do that.  I make a plan - a path if you will - of how I am going to get up and keep going. The plan helps me to know what's ahead, before it comes, and in the process of developing the plan, I am already off the ground and walking toward my goal again.

A plan is a safety net, especially in an unstable environment. Think about it - you are walking through the forest in the night - the only thing that keeps you from being lost is the fact that you know where you are and where you are going. That's what a plan does. It is the voice of reason in your head, when your heart is pounding and your palms are sweating.

The other thing that gets me off the floor is remembering that people do count on me. That this is not about me. It's about them.  Every day, I pick myself up, no matter how I feel about the world, I smile, and I go to work. Why? Because that's my job. I exist for others. And others exist to help me. That's the way it is. We are all connected and part of something else.

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