Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rule #1: Stop Fooling Yourself

[Portrait of Cab Calloway, Columbia studio, New York, N.Y., ca. Mar. 1947] (LOC)
Photo of Cab Calloway by Library of Congress via Flickr

A college friend was a film student at Tisch School for the Arts at NYU.

I vividly remember her practicing her shots, spending hours positioning a rose on a stool with a white sheet draped behind it. Then taking picture after picture.

Went to Pennsylvania once, and spent the weekend with her family.

They had a beautiful, small wooden house.  I remember walking up the steps from the main floor to put my things down upstairs, looking up at the ceiling, and thinking that it was beautiful. (I grew up with popcorn ceilings.)

They had some kites, or flags, or something like that affixed to the ceilings as well. I stood there in joy and wonder, thinking of the heavy books and heavy framed pictures in my house in New Jersey.

Airy in her house, heavy in my own.

I never wanted to be religious like my parents were. But I couldn’t admit it then.

I returned to New York and confessed to my mother. Normally open-minded, she gasped. Driving…on Shabbos…and you are happy?

She hung up the phone and I decided that I hated myself for being such a bad person. Till decades later when I realized, I’m not bad – just not the same as her.

The point of all this is that work is much the same. We have a flash of realization, and quickly bury it in aisles of denial.

How often do we admit and take responsibility for the fact that—

--a project is failing

--a team member – frontline, manager or even a leader - just isn’t cutting it

--a process is broken

--a division is becoming unnecessary

--ongoing conflicts are getting out of hand?

Last night I was watching Piers Morgan interview Jack Welch on CNN. If I could vote for Welch to take over (at least the economy), I would. There was an honesty to his talk. He simply told it like he saw it. 

This is not necessarily the same thing as being right – but Welch struck me as the kind of person who has made a deliberate choice not to fool himself.

Clicking away from Jack Welch there was the Kardashian reality show.

Now before you all throw rotten tomatoes at me because of their trashy ways, and Kim’s immoral, ludicrous reality-show marriage – don’t.  I’m just trying to make a point here.

The mother, Kris Jenner, cheated on her first husband and the tabloids have made much of this. They say that daughter Khloe’s paternity is probably one of her cheat-ees.

Instead of hiding, Kris got a DNA test done on the kids.

In the end most things are not that bad. Cancer is bad. But not most things.

Denial is worse than most problems. Someone started “F*** Cancer” to promote preventive education and examination for cancer, because people get so freaked out about it they just ignore the simple steps that could save their lives.

Everyone has trouble confronting themselves. But sooner or later, you’ve just got to do it. Maybe not in a harsh way, but in a way that helps you take care of what needs to get done.

Have a good day everyone, and good luck!

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