Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Not What You Always Think...

I'm currently in the midst of my sixth and last busy season and as much as I enjoy that statement... there are definitely aspects of it I will miss dearly.

I'll miss the difficult times that bring a group of random people together, the shared enthusiasm for yet another over-indulgent but firm sponsored meal as the highlight of the day, the random Starbucks and Jamba Juice breaks during the day which warrant a breath of fresh air(literally and metaphorically), the "oh! I may have found an issue" ah-ha initial excitement, moments the "oh! man... I really have a lot of work now" eventual dread moments, the "oh! am I going to ever finish it in time?" threateningly permanent pondering moments, the "man, I've been stuck in a bare room with white walls and fluorescent lights for way too long" moment, the reminder that it's late when the cleaning lady or man comes in to take out the trash, the painful growing pains, the memorable team ramblings, the high anxiety, the tight deadlines, the plethora of coaching moments and everything and anything that is..busy season. And like the run-on sentence that just was, that is exactly how busy season feels. Intense. Extreme. And hopefully... over soon!

For the last three weeks, my days have been jam packed with client meetings, update meetings and team meetings. Among all the meetings, we were told on Friday, as a team, to determine if we'd participate in the annual Homewalk which our managing partner sponsors. We were strongly (if they could force us, I'm sure they would) encouraged to attend and after the manager left us with the task of compiling a report of who would be going, the room was filled with bitterness and resentment. Maybe it was the stress. Maybe it was the deadline. Maybe it was the messy conference table strewn with paper clips, crumbs from the variety of dinners from the past weeks, clutter of post-its both used and new, and the piles of utensils on the side table that had accumulated from our time spent eating at our computers... whatever it was, nobody seemed happy. Negative Nancy's, Debbie Downers and Pouty Patty's all around... alas, where was Optimistic Oscar?

Nobody wanted to go. Why should we go to a work function on the weekend? I don't even like the homeless, can I help some other cause instead? What excuse can I think of to justify not going? I was disgusted by the conversation topic but I did not retreat entirely and instead I encouraged well thought out excuses for not going and indirectly contributed to the growing consensus that "firm-sponsored community service" seems self-serving. The complaints continued and began to wear on me. I myself, had told everyone I could not go because of a wedding but when team members began to comment on how they'd rather spend time with their own families instead of dragging 'em out to the event, I grew sad. It seems so often, once the incentive to load your resume or college application with volunteer service disappears, less people are willing to donate their time to the service of others. I grew mad. Why couldn't everyone be more selfless and stop thinking of only themselves? And then, in a fury of typed messages to a friend, I was reminded not to judge. I was reminded of those who might choose to anonymously give their time to others. I was reminded to be thoughtful, considerate and have charity towards everyone. I grew taller .. and realized... I better repent.

A few hours went by and like an elementary school colored parachute that you lift high up, run under and sit at the edges of the chute now in back of you so that you are engulfed in a parachute tent of colors, the stress seemed to loom over our heads. And then.. without any real turning point, the parachute seemed to just deflate on its own and the room lightened up. A joke was told. A sarcastic but funny remark was shared. And then.. we seemed to be normal again.

I sat there.. thinking, if the wedding isn't until later, I can probably do the walk in the morning. Again, talk of who was going came up and this time, I chimed in that I might be able to go. "Well, if you go, I will go too," a co-worker responded ... "I just don't want to go alone." And then, as if on cue, another spoke up and said, "I guess I'll probably be going too..." and then, with seemingly begrudging hesitation, everyone else agreed.

I sat there... stared at my computer screen... and was dumbfounded by the sudden change of hearts. The intensity in the room had only added to the reactions I had witnessed only hours before and upon doing so, I quickly passed judgment... yet a few hours later... I knew there were other concerns that had stopped them from fully committing which made me think of all the other times I quickly conclude on someone or something because of my initial observation and then am wrong. And I realized... it's really not what I always think. I should really work on those thoughts - on controlling them and ensuring my thoughts are not too critical and judgmental so they cannot then influence my words or my actions.

At the end of the day... it's not what you always think. ... and even if it is what you always think, letting some time pass as part of your confirmation process can't hurt.

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