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Thursday, January 17, 2008

I am People

Photo by myself. It was a rainy night tonight in Union Square.


My few days away seemed like a week.

A good deal of time was spent on four planes, three meetings, three site visits, one group dinner and two nights of room service. Phew.

We stayed three nights and I managed to take five baths. I admit it. I fell in love with the bathtub in my hotel room, which was two feet deep, with a ready supply of piping hot water.

I have to wonder how frequent fliers do it, how they perceive life. Do they feel like they've lived a really, really long time as a result? Is it sort of like traveling in space, where you age more rapidly than the earthbound folks?

Even though we got so much 'done', I have mixed feelings about this trip. A few of my very stupid mistakes were caught and brought up at a meeting. And at one of the site visits, I had to confront either minor misjudgements or massive room for improvement. Granted, the project was done with very little time and tons of pressure, but still. It easily could have been so much better.

Finally, I choked at an important meeting. I needed to present some things and I only addressed some of them. The rather critical mood of the morning put me off. One of the bigwigs was there, and the feeling was tense. Much bigger and tedious issues were being discussed, and I just couldn't muster up the energy to stick my neck out there. My neck remained safely and happily ensconced in its little shell.

The thing is, my team stayed late the Friday before, scrambling together two presentation booklets and material samples that we shipped out by Fed Ex. I feel like I let the team down. Effort was made, but it wasn't seen because of my fears. And what was I really afraid of? Mr. Bigwig dismissing my fluffy thoughts? (Uh, yes).

Mark says that people make mistakes. I guess.

I happen to be the super-sensitive, critical type, so my mistakes haunt me. I'm a Virgo! My errors keep me up at night and wake me early the next morning. It's tough being a perfectionist in a very imperfect world, working on projects under imperfect conditions.

I'm learning from this experience, slowly and painfully. It goes something like this: that it's hard sometimes to be a leader, that I have a tough time speaking to a critical audience, that people make mistakes, and that I am said people.


Reluctant Blogger said...

Oh Kitty.

You know, it is only because you are conscientious and you care, that your mistakes haunt you. They always haunt me too. Just don't let them destroy your confidence.

I have frozen in meetings and even in lectures before because I have felt ill at ease, even when I know that what I have to say is something people should hear. I hav e no quick-fix solutions to overcoming the problem. I just think sometimes a bad "vibe" leads to a lack of confidence, then of course everything else seems to go wrong. Try to put it behind you.

But the more meetings you go to, the more presentations you give, the more confident you will become, you will be able to deal with criticism and this won't happen. Just don't blow it out of all proportion. Others at the meeting probably won't have viewed it the same way at all.

Big hugs, my friend.

Spandrel Studios said...

Hey, Kitty. Remember that for most people, it's hard to perform at your normal high-quality level when you're not feeling well. Chalk it up to your cold, and know that you'll do better next time.

And like Reluctant Blogger said, the more meetings and presentations you do, the easier it gets.

Take care of yourself!

A Red Mind in a Blue State said...

I can only tell you what I tell my employees, my daughters, kids I've coached, etc.

We are supposed to make mistakes. All of us. It's part of life, it's part of everything we do. Any boss who expects perfection from his employees, every time, is going to be constantly disappointed, and constantly training new people.

I have found that the best I can expect, and the best that the people around me can expect, is that I'll care, that I'll try to improve, and that mistakes made are from either honest misjudgment or misunderstanding, and not from lack of effort.

Reluctant hit it right on the head--you have to move on. I know how women love sports analogies :) --but the best one for me is the quarterback who is being blitzed. Sometimes you just have to take the sack, rather than throw up a ball that can be intercepted (in other words, mitigate the damage, don't make the situation worse), take the hit, and come back for the next play-- watch out for the linebacker, but don't be afraid and don't dwell on the last play.

And finally, as with clothes, dancing and many other things in life, remember that most people are too busy worrying about how they are doing themselves to really worry about you-- most mistakes we make go unnoticed by all except us.

End of lecture. Great photo!

Theresa H. Hall said...

Hello there. I haven't been around for a while and when I saw your header I ached for New York!

Please check out Jim Rohn dot com. He will give you insight. He said the first time he got up to speak, "I stood up and my brain sat down." Recently he spoke in front of 18,000 people. He is 77 years old and has been doing this for over 50 years. Really though, I find inspiration whenever I see or hear him.

Practice makes the master.
The job won't get any harder, you'll just get better.

"Sleeping Kitten - Dancing Dog!"

Tammy said...

Don't be sad Kitty! Everyone makes mistakes, that's what makes us human. We learn from our mistakes. I think you are pretty great and the best architect I know. Hugs, Tammy

Kitty said...

hehe Tammy, you crack me up. ah...

Well, I have to say that reading these warm responses this afternoon made me tear up at work.

I am so very thankful that I have such a refuge. I'm sure everyone would want a rousing cheerleading squad of their own if they could!

Thanks everyone. I will look long and hard to your advice.

penpusher said...

Great photo! I really long to visit New York again.

I hope you're feeling better today, and I agree with the other comment, practise makes perfect, one step at a time :)

Spandrel Studios said...

For tips and insight into making presentations, PresentationZen.com has a wealth of information. The site itself is so well done that I find that if I read it while I'm in the throes of preparing for a presentation, it helps me focus.

An old boss of mine used to say that to be a great writer, it's inspiring to read other great writers.

The same holds for presentations. I've found my best efforts have been after I've observed really effective and entertaining presenters.

Kitty said...

Penpusher, thank you.

It's a long trip for you! You're out in Australia, right? I would absolutely love to go there and to NZ. It's really one of my dreams.

Spandrel dear, I'll have to check out that site. My troubles have haunted me forever. I was okay in school but then in the working world something happened. At least it can't get any worse!