Aiming For Who You Want to Be
I’m always amazed at how, now matter how conscious I try to be about being compassionate and appreciative – about being grateful – that I can’t help but be human. And, at the risk of looking like the total dork that I can be, with Thanksgiving approaching and gratefulness top-of-mind, I thought you might find amusement in hearing about the day I first used my digital voice recorder.
We were living in Dallas, and I had hired a pianist to practice singing (for my soul – I haven’t performed in years). We were playing through a song by John Bucchino called “Grateful”, which I used to sing back in my Cabaret-days in Seattle. I had just purchased a handy-dandy little voice recorder and had recorded the rehearsal so I could practice it. Practice it driving around, on my stationary bike, while washing dishes – wherever I wanted. And when you’re singing a song called “Grateful” you just can’t help but feel it.
The thing about a digital recorder – at least back then – is that, until you download the song on your iPod, or computer you can’t really hear it very well. They’re not great for playing back – mostly for recording. But being too excited to wait, after rehearsal, I jumped in my car, held the recorder up to my ear like a cell phone (so I could hear the darn thing) and started singing as I drove out of the parking lot on my way home.
I’ve got a roof over my head. I’ve got a warm place to sleep.
And I get to the intersection and the light is flashing red on all four sides, so we have to take turns. And I’m singing at the top of my lungs in the confines of my car, waiting for my turn…
Sometimes I lie awake counting gifts instead of counting sheep.
I pull up to the 4-way stop. It’s almost my turn. I could see all the drivers looking cautiously at each other, ready to go (although in retrospect, they may have been looking at me wondering what the weird lady was doing in the red Prius talking to herself with such gusto).
Grateful. Grateful. Truly grateful am I.
It’s my turn! I drive forward, with my digital recorder plastered to my ear, singing…
Truly blessed and duly grateful…
And this lady in a giant black Cadillac SUV, talking on her cell phone, blows past her turn in line, cutting me off.
Like Sybil, I ferociously slam on my horn and scream, “Hey! Watch it!” – shooting death-arrows out of my eyeballs as she gives me the “Sorry” hand and drives off.
Can’t say I was feeling the gratitude any longer.
The thing about “being real” is that there’s no room for being perfect. Sometimes you just have to laugh at how funny you are as a human being. Because we’re all weird and quirky. And sometimes, even with the best intentions, we get thrown off our game and react.
We react to colleagues and direct reports. We react to our kids. We react to the drivers in the black SUVs.
And the only thing we can do, is to own it and be as compassionate as possible as we can with ourselves. To hopefully laugh and find humor in the absurdity of it all, and continue to take aim at who we want to be in the world.
Who do you want to be? It’s worth aiming for.
©OnStage Leadership, 2014 (revised from post originally posted November, 2013)
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