Friday, September 30, 2022

5 on a Friday: Let's see how long this lasts

 My whole feed is full of "5 on a Friday" posts and I am nothing if not a late adapter of trends :) But I like the structure of it so let's see how it goes!

1) Today is a very awesome day. It's my penultimate day of my job, which means I get to use the word "penultimate," which I love, AND that I start my new job next week! More to come...

2) After living with a very ramshackle fence for almost a year, our neighbors decided that it was very urgent to get it replaced ASAP. We didn't really have the money to do it, and it was stressful to coordinate all the pieces, but today my new fancy fence is going in and I'm pretty thrilled about it. We're coming out ahead in the deal because we took the opportunity to cut out a bunch of awful tree-things which will give us a bunch of space AND the company is coming back next week to fix our awful gate which means I will no longer be using garden tools as a gate latch and I won't have to drag my trash cans out through the garage. So I'm poor, but happy! 

3) I took a page from Sarah's book and have been planning out meals based on the crazy kid schedule and it has been a GAME CHANGER. Now instead of feeling bad that groceries are getting wasted because we don't have time to make the meals, and instead defaulting to drive thru every night, we're being proactive and everyone knows what's happening. Wednesdays are a nightmare but this week I bought a Costco pizza that lived on the counter and people grabbed slices on their way in and out the door and it was totally fine! 

4) It's Hocus Pocus 2 day AND it's my movie night AND it's the start of spooky season! I'm wearing Halloween earrings to celebrate. 

5) I signed up for a CrossFit competition. I have no idea what I was thinking and now every morning I consider canceling it. I'm not going to because I'm a grown woman and even if I completely embarrass myself, it'll be fine, but pray for me? Also I hope they give me a t-shirt at least...

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Thoughts on leadership

 I often find, as I trip through my days, that patterns emerge. I suspect it has a lot to do with the availability heuristics (I love the availability heuristic, and the word heuristic) but also, I think the universe kind of hits you in the face until you pay attention. Lately one of the themes that keeps coming up has to do with leadership. 

I've been having conversations about leadership seemingly everywhere: at home, in client sessions, in casual conversations. Even more specifically the conversations have focused on the differences felt when you are in the presence of strong leadership versus when you are not. My response, when I'm asked, is often to advise people to pay attention in those situations because this is all great data whether you can actually affect change in the situation or not. It sucks when you first recognize that someone is falling short but it's such a gift for the future. 

But what are those intangible things that make great leaders? There's only about seven billion books written on the subject and honestly I find much of it bullshit. All the books and theories and motivational speeches feel so faddy (is that even a word?) and superficial. Here's what it boils down to (in my humble, obviously not superficial and faddish [that is definitely not a word] opinion) 

Don't be an asshole. Pretty straightforward, but surprisingly easy for people to screw up. Essentially, don't act in a way that you'd be embarrassed for your mom to see. Don't be mean to people. 

Promote the whole as greater than the sum of the parts. Your team, whoever or however it's made up, will not succeed on the shoulders of a single superstar and so if you focus on a single person it will fail. They will crack under the pressure and everyone else will underperform. In this same vein, you're not the leader because you're the best, so don't act like it. I have the most respect for leaders who are quick to take blame and give credit. I think it shows a huge amount of both confidence and humility and in my experience, people will move mountains for them. 

Be the person willing to go to bat for people. I have a couple of tests for leaders and one is, would this person back me up? It's a conversation I had with Eli about coaches. Someone can be super gruff and abrasive, but you will work your ass off for them if you know that if it hits the fan they'd be right behind you. 

Promote awesomeness. One of my greatest joys is seeing people succeed, and when I'm working for someone or observing someone in leadership you can tell that when they are focused on the success of the people around them. These are the people who don't use information as currency, who are constantly looking for opportunities to let people shine or grow, who are focused on people's successes and strengths. Who doesn't love that? But here's the clincher. Everyone is awesome at SOMETHING and people who are really good at what they do recognize that. 

I'm curious what other people think of when they think of good leaders? What do you look for, or what do you specifically try to avoid? And how do you manage when you're in the unfortunate situation of knowing you're not being led by a good leader? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Trying new things

We are at an age with our kids where everyone has kind of figured out what they do, or more honestly, what they don't do. Eli wrestles and finds loopholes. Sydney makes lists. Averson plays soccer. And then kind of out of nowhere, everyone started trying new things. Eli went out for water polo. I absolutely, 100% do not understand this sport. It's kind of like soccer in the water and I know that they aren't allowed to touch the bottom. Sometimes it's good to get a foul. Eli gets ejected a lot and no one seems to mind (and sometimes it seems like a good thing?) I love it a lot. His coach is amazing and his team is awesome and they're busy and ragtag and it's my favorite kind of chaos. And there's a lot of yelling which is my favorite kind of spectating. 

 I sort of threw a fit with Sydney around the same time I confiscated her phone and declared that she would be doing an extracurricular, and that either she could choose or I'd choose for her. She chose volleyball, and then, of course, they couldn't find a coach and it looked like she'd get out of it on a technicality. Then at the literal last second two moms pulled through and not only was Sydney not thrown by the last second change in plans, she was actually kind of excited by it? And now she is willingly and excitingly attending practice every night. 

Averson is doing soccer again, and after a rough start where we had a very frank conversation about grit and intention she's doing great. Last weekend I would even describe her as aggressive on the field. She continues to be her same self-assured, unique self who just has the funniest little brain. I found this on the table the other morning, so I think maybe her newest venture might be communing with the undead?  

And also drawing. Let's focus on the drawing so I don't get freaked out. 

Even I'm getting into the spirit of stretching outside of my comfort zone (partly because of everyone else). I started going to the early morning classes at my gym and while the 4:30 alarm was painfully insulting at first, I've adjusted really quickly and it's helped me be so much more consistent. Since starting I'm back to my preferred 3-4 times a week schedule and I feel so much better. 

In the olden days I would sleep in my gym clothes. I don't do that anymore but I do set them out and sometimes text pictures to my gym buddy as proof of intent. That way if I bail they're staring at me in judgment in the morning. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

On grief and tiny giant things

 I thought I was doing okay with this whole grief and loss thing, but then when you least expect it you get sucker punched in the face. Like when you've got big news and you realize that you don't have any parents to share it with. That's pretty fucking lame. I have great siblings who responded with the appropriate level of enthusiasm, and awesome friends who can't wait to celebrate with me, but I'm realizing that you're never too old to want your parents to hang your gold star on the refrigerator. 

And then yesterday Averson and I went to Michaels in search of lanyard string. Such a small, innocuous errand and when I walked in I nearly drowned in sadness. My mom and I didn't have a ton of things in common, but what we did have, we had hard. And Halloween crafts, that was our jam. The three years she lived with us, we made dozens of tiny dioramas in pumpkins, bought more ridiculous decorations than anyone could ever need, squeed over ridiculous zombies and sugar skulls and bats and all the things. She loved my ridiculous skeleton menagerie almost more than Averson does and would move them in the night, setting up vignettes and back stories and giving them names. 

Michaels has a whole aisle now of tiny things that wasn't there before. Tiny little tea sets and doors and tables and garden tools and bottles and animals. Halloween and Christmas and regular every day options. Hundreds of tiny little options for tiny little scenes and she's never going to see them. She would have loved it, and instead of being so thrilled to tell her about it and bring her back, I stood in the aisle choking back tears deciding whether I wanted to continue the tradition or never go there again. 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Camp with Bones

 Long ago we signed up to do family Girl Scout camp, and then slowly through attrition all but Averson and I dropped out. We're pretty much done with Girl Scouts, but I was sorry that she and I hadn't had a chance to do a camp together so this was a nice accident. We had a delightful time (and happy bonus we missed the hottest weekend!) 

They let her dissect an owl pellet and she found not one but TWO skulls! Hence the camp name, Bones. 

Leading up to camp, all she could say was that she hoped she got to do Archery. So it was awesome that it was the first AND last thing on our schedule! She did great!

This is what a successful camp weekend looks like :) 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Might delete this later. Also, PSA: Don't be an asshole

 Yesterday at work I noticed a bunch of people all heading out at the same time. I happened to be in my boss's office when one person stopped at the door and asked if we were heading out soon too. I casually said "Where?" and then my boss informed me that, totally straight faced, there had been a "team building pool party" planned THAT I HAD NOT BEEN INVITED TO. So the entire office was emptying out save for me, one person to man the front desk because I still had patients scheduled, and one doctor. And here's the kicker. This isn't even the first time this has happened. 

I'm sure whoever decided to organize it this way had their reasons for not including me on any of the e-mails, but I cannot imagine any situation where I would intentionally exclude one person from an event where the other forty or so people are included, even if logistically I knew they wouldn't be able to go or if I knew that they would choose not to, or if I didn't want them there. Because... well just because. 

So after work, where I let myself out of a COMPLETELY EMPTY clinic, I met up with the family at Eli's (awesome but totally foreign and confusing) water polo game and was talking with Eli about my day. I told him, somewhat incredulously, how ridiculous the situation was. He immediately responded like a normal human (so I guess I've done my job there) but then also was like, "That reminds me of the time in third grade when Steven so-and-so handed out birthday party invitations to everyone but me!" And then Sydney, when she heard the story, had a similar third grade story. 

So here's the lessons learned. 

1) Apparently third grade has been rough in the Chiconky house?

2) People are fucking assholes who don't know basic etiquette rules

3) My kids are pretty awesome, and pretty resilient. And also they know not to hand out invitations in public or to talk about parties in case not everyone was invited

I hope someone peed in the pool