Beside my desk at home, I have a list of questions that were created by Kenneth Mikkelsen who wrote the post on The Best Leaders are Constant Learners.
Every week, I glance over to it and make a mental note to use it as a means of self reflection for the week. After all, I capture daily work and learning out loud videos through my YouTube channel (and shared on Instagram Stories) but sometimes I forget about what it is that I’ve learned because I’m in the moment of doing it. I need to take the time and reflect on what I have achieved, learned and been challenged about.
Every week at our work meeting, we have to share one good thing – personal and professional that happened in the week as a way to start the meeting so these questions would also go some way in recalling what these are. So here is what I learned this week.
This week I’m going to start with…
How Did I Handle a Difficult Situation?
I’m actually unsure if it is indeed a difficult situation but it did rattle me a bit and I had to reflect on it for a while as to what course of action to take. Someone from my network had direct messaged me that they “heard my voice coming from their wife’s phone” and when they enquired, it turns out that Dolly Alderton, who is an author, journalist and podcaster based in the UK had sent out a tweet of my review of her book. Here it is.
Nine months since I first saw this and still think about it at least twice a week 🥰 pic.twitter.com/Bv0dhyCUW8
— Dolly H Alderton (@dollyalderton) May 3, 2020
Now before I read her book, I wasn’t aware of who she was but I read her book and do remember it stirred some emotions in me because I get disheartened reading about young women who can have such great lives but somehow life tends to steer them down tangental paths and the importance of having a great network of friends around you to look out for you. Women need that.
Anyway, I was alerted to the tweets and my first thought was “Shit. Did I say something bad about her book?” I didn’t read the comments, and immediately watched my book review and admittedly, I think it came across as I was frustrated with it. More like frustrated with her situations but nevertheless. My heart skipped a beat.
The second thing I noticed about myself is HOW I BLOODY LOOKED ON CAMERA of that tweet. Why was that such an issue for me? I looked like a school ma’am.
“Great,” I thought. “Now I even look the part of some sour crone who comes across as a sour old goat.” I rolled my eyes to myself.
Then, I read the tweets – slowly. I had an ‘oh shit’ moment.
Here were people talking about me.
Someone called me Karen. I smiled at that. “Yep, touche!” (Actually, that didn’t bother me because most of the time I tend to think that I’m like Barbara who lives in Bank World. Certainly I can get like that with some people)…
So I read the tweets again and I pondered. “Is this actually a good or bad thing for me?”
My first instincts would have responded with a quirky remark. I thought about what I could write that could get me onside with her followers. Maybe something like, “I don’t get where people are going with these tweets!” or some such. However, I’ve been going through some kind of change as I get older. I’m more reflective of my own actions and assessed my feelings and thoughts on this.
Instead, I came to the conclusion that this is what I should expect if I put my writing, thoughts, learning, whatever out in the public. It’s on the internet therefore, technically, everyone can comment on it, reference it, tear it to pieces. It is what it is. I made that choice. I could have chosen to keep my review offline, secret, shared within my book club members where it would have gone no further. Or, not done it at all.
In the end, I let it go. It took me overnight to digest the tweets and then decide to let sleeping dogs lie. After all, what I say about a book really means zip to the author in the grand scheme of things – as it should.
People who show and share their lives, their work, their craft – lay themselves out there and on the line, show their vulnerabilities and lay it all bare in the public sphere through their blogs, books, podcasts, videos, movies, music, poems, art work – whatever – are people who should be admired and respected. We don’t have to agree with how they go about it, what they do, when and how they do it. After all, we are all different in our unique ways. When we do this, we open the way for others to comment on it, critique it, review it, provide feedback, have a laugh or cry about it, refer to it, hack it, edit it, change it, adopt it.
I know that strength of character comes not just from making the work – but also being able to handle what comes from it – the good and the bad.
This for me has been a lesson this week and it will be a story I will now share about “working out loud”; being transparent, vulnerable and authentic in a noisy world online. As many more people are moving their work behind firewalls, getting off the social networks entirely or sharing only within safe online spaces and communities where they cannot be under the attack of others, I’m going to hold out for just a bit more because we need the internet to be more open, respectful and diverse conversations that we can not only learn from each other but learn more about ourselves.
What Emotions Did I Experience?
Today is the birthday of my best friend Mary who passed away from ovarian cancer last year. Mary and I served together for over 20 years in the Royal Australian Navy. As we both came from a Greek background, we shared a bond in the Navy being female, officers and Greek. It meant we had each others back.
A message popped up in Facebook that it was her birthday but sometimes I think that she’s been sending me messages here and there all week. Yesterday I downloaded a podcast to listen to with Tim Ferriss (not my favourite author – admittedly I was scathing of his book Tools of Titans here back in 2017).
What was weird is that (1) I downloaded his podcast which I haven’t downloaded or listened to in a few years and (2) It was the interview with the one with Elizabeth Gilbert where she talked about how she left her husband to be with the love of her life Reyya Elias who had since passed away with cancer.
Gilbert was recounting the story of how much they had laughed when she was in the hospital and it reminded me of being with Mary when she was in hospital getting chemo treatment. Mary was full of life, always laughing and had an excellent sense of humour. I remember her telling me how going in for chemo treatment, the nurses made it worthwhile because there was always laughter and people in good spirits there. She would then show me the YouTube clips of all the funny things that people shared there and what jokes the nurses would tell her.
Listening to Gilbert, within the first 10 minutes recount the story of the humour in the chemo ward reminded me of Mary. It was our experience too. So in some way, I like to think that this was a message from Mary and it was nice to think about her today.
It’s like she was saying, “don’t forget me Helen!”
I won’t forget you Mary. How could I? You were such a full force – always positive, always encouraging, always helpful and always laughing – and always doing or learning something new. You taught me so much mainly, to just enjoy each day as it comes and taking the bull by its horns when it comes to learning and trying something new, experiencing new places, travel and seeing the good in people.
Right, that’s it for now. This week has been more emotional than last week although I continue to move on with my own French studies, attending Microsoft 365 May event to learn about self publishing in business and my knitting project that I was blogging about FROGGED (massive fail – I had to rip it all apart).
Life ticks on.
Have a wonderful week everyone.