You Know that “Stuff Happens” Right?
Yesterday I received an email from a potential business colleague profusely apologizing for having to reschedule our call. Her child was sick, her normal sitter out of town, and she was home beating herself up for not being available.
Last week there was a time-zone snafu with another call I had scheduled and the guy jumped on the phone frantically apologizing, hoping to reschedule later in the week.
Trains get delayed. Meetings get spaced. Life happens.
The funny thing is – most of the time, I’m a little bit relieved. When something I have on my calendar gets cancelled at the last minute, all of the sudden I get a hour of unscheduled time. What a luxury! I always feel badly for the person who is late, or has forgotten, or had a problem with their scheduling tools. They have so little compassion for themselves that you would think they had committed a felony! Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa!
Listen, I’m not suggesting that we embrace flakiness and throw accountability out the window, I know that our organizations and our society can only work if people keep their agreements. But I am suggesting that perhaps appreciating our humanity might serve us better.
As long as it’s not a re-occurring offense, could you could use it as a connector? After all, who hasn’t had something go awry? It’s nice to know other people are human too. Or might we use it as a signal that one of us needs to better manage our time, or find a new tool, or ask for help? Quite likely it’s not an intentional disregard for the other person.
Expecting ourselves and others to be perfect is irrational. There is no perfect. Surround yourself with good people, expect the best of them, expect the best of yourself, and if something happens, put yourself in their shoes for a moment or own it – and learn to forgive. Even if the person you’re forgiving is you. Life is too short to be grumpy about it.
Think about all the energy we waste being annoyed, or mad, or worried. And if you find all the people in your world are constantly disappointing you…perhaps you need to be clearer about your expectations or raise the caliber of people with whom you do business. Or maybe just look in the mirror?
Today find a way to give yourself and others a bit of a break. Authentic leaders get that stuff happens. Why wouldn’t they? They’re human too.
That’s what makes them authentic.
©OnStage Leadership, 2014 (originally posted in July, 2013)
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