I had a moment of panic earlier this week as I sat staring at a completely empty ballroom just a few minutes from starting a presentation. The 3 people who had originally been sitting before me had left after they quickly realized they were in the wrong room.
And so there I sat, alone, in an incredibly large room (it felt as if it was getting larger by the second) with what I believed to be a very decent workshop topic and not a single soul to hear it.
Wow. Not a single person is going to show up to my talk. This is a complete and utter disaster. What a waste of my time. Seriously? Fuck this.
I’ll be honest, my ears burned from a combination of my pride being challenged as well as the fact that I was on the tail end of a very challenging 10 days of travel away from my family. I had serious thoughts of walking out the door and heading to the airport.
There are times when you are tired and you’re cranky and the world is literally falling apart. Then there are times where the exhaustion is deeply satisfying, the result of a job well-done.
I hope and work for the latter every single day but when I experience the former it reminds me that I have said “Yes” more than I should have; that I over-committed and stretched myself too thin.
George Orwell once famously said:
Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
I have found this idea applicable in many areas of life beyond that of writing a book1 and in many ways I feel as if my life revolves around these types of compulsions.
Have you ever encountered a problem, a challenge, an idea that you had to pursue is if driven by some ungodly force? It’s as if you have no choice but to fully engage.
There is a growing tension that I have become more aware of that I’m not entirely sure what to do with. It’s like that itch in the back of your throat that you can’t quite seem to reach but you viscerally feel and is annoying as hell.
After spending the weekend with my lovely parents in a last-minute travel changeup I found myself chatting with my parents over BBQ about the changes that have happened over the years and a variety of perspectives that have dramatically shifted (for the better).
When I left I encapsultated the tension I felt in this idea:
I have a love/hate relationship with Markdown and it’s entirely based on utility.
First, I love the fact that I can write with Markdown and never have to have my hands leave the keyboard since I’m doing all my formatting right into the text editor.
You can see it being done just like so:
The problem is that in WordPress it isn’t a complete solution because I still have to use my touchpad for some elements, like the image that I added above.
I have a lot of anxiety around the work that I choose to do because it becomes a big part of who I am. Whether this perspective is right or wrong is not exactly up for grabs as I can do no other at this point in time (despite what my therapist(s) tell me).
And I’m fine with that – I’m given up on most of my attempts to separate the who with the what as being an autist makes that incredibly difficult to distinguish in the first place. But, if you’re even a little like me then you know what I am talking about already as we eat, sleep, and breathe our work as if it’s biological.
Consequently (or quite naturally) I put a lot of pressure on myself to do exceedingly well and I can’t help but want (i.e. need) to perform to my utmost. Anything less is abject failure which means that I, too, am a failure by definition.
As organizations scale they can often times forget to be mindful of the things that can really harm the culture if not attended to well in their hunt for big growth. I have thought often of my previous ventures in the past as well as my experience in the enterprise and shudder at the thought of returning to some of those knowing the mistakes that were made and the opportunities lost.
It has all to do with people (as most of us well-know) and what happens is that the obvious things become overlooked and as a result people feel unappreciated and at the very least misunderstood. Even with talented and self-lead staff it’s important that we all take a break to see what’s happened and take a moment to acknowledge that it did, actually, happen.
I think back to when significant milestones were reached and overcome and not the faintest of sounds came from the leadership. It wasn’t that they didn’t know that we had met our goals (and sometimes far exceeded them) but rather that they did not have the emotional wherewithal to express it in a way that mattered.