Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Sound of Pebbles

When I find myself under stress one of the visualizations that I have found works fairly well for me is to imagine each item of stress as a stone pebble and then slowly, one after another, drop the pebbles into a tin bucket, listening to the clang of the bucket as the pebble rattles around inside of it. I am not really sure why this particular visualization works better than others for me, but it does.

I was working on filling the bucket up today. During the course of the morning I accumulated quite a few pebbles. At lunch, I walked down the street in the rain and had a bowl of so-so vegetable minestrone, a green salad, and a glass of iced tea. When I finished lunch, I walked back in the rain and then walked to the far end of the building and back, imagining those pebbles hitting the bottom of the pail as I walked.

I often speak in general terms of the stressors that I find myself under, but I thought I would take a slightly different approach today and show you all some of the pebbles I dropped into the bucket.

Pebble Number One: I exchanged texts with my brother this morning, god love him. He is one of those people that he cannot help but correct you, even if what you are saying is a simple statement of preference. I had mentioned to him that my preference was for black coffee – upon which he promptly texted back that my preference was wrong. Now think about this for a second – “I like black coffee”. “No you don’t.” What’s the point of that whole exchange. Other then getting under my craw. It’s actually a hot button of mine when you are stating an opinion or a preference and people tell you it’s not your preference or opinion? How the heck do you respond to that?

Pebble Number Two: I have an incidental table in my living room, near the door, where the odds and ends of things land – keys, wallet, pocket stuff. It has a tendency every now and then to catch things and become cluttered. As I was picking up my stuff this morning I noted that it was cluttered (largely because I knocked some small things off). That was just irritating. This pebble fortunately I can do something about – tonight, when I get home, I’ll quickly sweep the crap that has landed there into the trash can and that will be the end of that. (On a side note, I am obviously a pen kleptomaniac. I buy and use one type of pen, the Zebra 402 in medium black ball point, however, inevitably all kinds of pens end up on the incidental table. I have no idea where they come from, since at work, I also use the Zebra 402 exclusively.)

Pebble Number Three: Traffic. ‘Nuff said.

Pebble Number Four: I am working a small project here at the office and it’s a thing that causes me some level of vexation. There are certain questions in my line of work that keep getting asked over and over and over. The data that underlies the questions never actually changes, hasn’t in the fifteen years I’ve been in this specific line of business. But, every new leader feels compelled to ask the same question and then disregard the same data. I have been at this long enough that I always feel a tremendous sense of déjà vu when the questions get asked.

Pebble Number Five: The inability of probably ninety percent of the corporate world to run a meeting that actually sticks to the agenda. Everyone always wants to either hijack the meetings and talk about something unrelated “while we are all together” or drone on and on about something only peripherally related in order to get face time.

Pebble Number Six: People who complain about things, but never to the actually people they should complain to them about. In the work environment this usually involves something minor that they should talk to their manager or HR about, but they won’t actually take the positive step to seek resolution since, I suspect, they really just would rather complain.

Pebble Number Seven: Loud people either talking in the hallway or on their cell phones. I always have to fight the urge to go stand right next to them and pull out my cell phone and go “Oh my god! You won’t believe how loudly this guy next to me is talking on his phone. Here, listen!” And then hold the phone up toward them.

Pebble Number Eight: Micromanaging by managers who really don’t have the slightest idea what is going on, but feel compelled to be involved.

And when I feel that urge rising up, that is when I know it is time to take a long walk and let the pebbles fall into the pail. (Clank, clank, clank, clank…)

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