REFLECTION: Last fall, I gifted my grandson with a subscription to a popular children’s magazine. I received, in return, a postcard to send the little guy indicating that the magazines would soon be on their way. I mailed him the postcard and also told him what to expect.
When I checked repeatedly with his Mom through the late fall and early winter about whether the magazines had started arriving, the answer was always no. In fact, they never even received the postcard announcement of the gift itself.
So, now, three months later, I finally decided it was time to call the magazine offices and demand an explanation. Irritated would be a pretty accurate description of my state of mind. I grew even more irritated by the time I held through the voice mail queue to eventually lodge my complaint with James, a real live agent. I laid out my problem fact by fact – in a tone that may have held just the slightest of edges.
On looking up my subscription account number, James immediately explained the situation. Turns out I had provided the right street address, but the wrong postal code, so the magazines had bounced back as undeliverable. The third time this happened, the distributor investigated, discovered the error, corrected the postal code, and had already graciously extended the subscription by the missing three months. The first magazine of the new year was on its way to the corrected destination.
I thanked James for handling the situation so well, and apologized for my error. All set to point the finger of blame, I had no one to aim it at but myself.
ACTION: I know I’m not the only person out there prone to jumping to conclusions. You may have experienced ‘a leap of sanctimony’ a time or two yourself. Self righteous indignation raises its ugly head in small and large ways both in the workplace and on the homefront. And, it’s such a colossal waste of energy with a strong likelihood of collateral damage.
Here are my reminder ‘Note To Self’ guidelines for tackling life’s sticky altercations:
* Speak up sooner rather than later when something goes awry.
* Don’t automatically ascribe incompetence on the part of others.
* Never assume that an error is entirely someone else’s fault.
* Explore what part I may have played in causing the problem.
* Be prepared to take or share responsibility for making things right.
P.S. In case it’s been a while, and you might have forgotten, I can tell you that humble pie has a unique flavor all its own!
QUOTES OF THE WEEK: The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” – John C. Maxwell
I would rather the man who presents something for my consideration subject me to a zephyr of truth and a gentle breeze of responsibility rather than blow me down with a curtain of hot wind.” – Grover Cleveland
READERS WRITE: In response to last week’s message, What’s Your Intention, Pause reader JG writes: This message is so fortuitous. I was just discussing choosing a word for the year with a friend. I realized I had already chosen mine while writing in my journal at year’s end. My word is LIGHT. To me it means to let the light in, spirituality, physically and emotionally; to follow my light; to share my light with the world; and to lighten up and enjoy the ride, to see the lighter side of things. I put this in motion by easing myself back into things on my first day back at work in a fairly stressed environment. I took the first half hour to read and lighten my expectations. I invited staff out for coffee first thing in the morning to lighten up the start to the work week. I lightened up our regularly scheduled meetings. And, on a personal note, I am lightening up on what I eat for supper (more salads please) and will hopefully lighten up the reading on the scale after my Christmas indulgences.
PS 2 – If you’ve been pondering your word for the year, I can tell you that these are some of the words that Pause readers tell me they have chosen to guide their direction for 2011: Thankfulness, Focus, Change, Reinforcement, Adventure, Reflection, Patience, Connection, and Gratitude.