Forget the Week, Remember the Lessons.

What a week. The world was out to get me (or at least test me severely). It was taxing beyond a normal “bad week”. I struggle to recall another week where so many problems of relative magnitude popped up in such a variety of places, and were posed by such a variety people. Don’t fret, I’m not going to bore you with the details. I suppose it's enough to say that of my problems in life right now, cancer feels like the least of them. My crotchety-old-man side comes through pretty prominently this week, I’ll try to return to my normal light-hearted self very shortly. 

I tried to distill one single lesson from the variety of challenges of the week. I was unsuccessful. I did, however, have a tangential moment of insight: Businesses- don’t worry about innovation, don’t worry about slick marketing, don’t even worry about doing great work. If you are a business that will actually do what you say you will do, you will rule the world.

While last week was spent dealing with a number of serious issues, I also dealt with some petty ones. This a tale from the petty end of the spectrum. I was in need of a caterer on short notice. I came up with a list of caterers, some well known, some less so, but all presumably comfortable with the concept of preparing food in exchange for money. I contacted six of these local businesses. A grand total of two of them responded. One of them said they would love to talk about the job, and then went silent. The second one went so far as to ask me a few questions and promise a quote before going incommunicado. I was more confused than disappointed- in the consultant world, the toughest part of our job is clawing, digging and fighting to find potential clients. The idea that there are businesses that ignore potential clients who show up at the doorstep with cash in hand is baffling. (I won’t comment on the courtesy of a reply- even a simple “thanks but no thanks”.)

When it became apparent that things weren’t working out, I turned to Facebook friends to get some recommendations, and they came through brilliantly. I got a number of contacts, and from that pool I picked another four. I picked the wrong four. I was “0-for” in that round. Clearly, I’m snakebit on the caterer side. I’ve now come to realize that the Facebook plea was my fatal mistake. By putting my business out on Front Street, I ran afoul of the Chafing Dish Mafia. I’ve been blacklisted- that’s the only logical excuse. For the rest of my life in this town I’m cut off from bad interpretations of pimento cheese, sliders of all kinds, and canapé’s held together by little knotted bamboo skewers. I’ve put my family and myself in grave danger by exposing the underworld, but don't worry friends, even if they manage to get me, the truth will out.

They didn't give me an offer so
I couldn't refuse it even if wanted. 

Meanwhile, the majority of my workweek was spent dealing with people (and things) whose purpose is to make life difficult for me. In and of itself that’s just life, but when folks operate in false and unethical ways that’s another story. When people I deal with do unethical things or break my trust, that’s a far bigger problem for me than messing something up or doing a poor job. When that line is crossed, I don’t waste my energy trying to get them back- I simply put them on the list and remove them from my life to the greatest extent possible. Thankfully, my list is very, very short, but unfortunately, it grew this week. A lot of you work with me, and some of you might be taken to believe that I’m writing about you. Know this- unless you know in your heart that you’ve been deliberately deceitful or untruthful in your dealings with me, I’m not talking about you. So please, no hate mail (on second thought, feel free- I love to get mail). 

Fortunately for me, during the height of the shitstorm I was with my clients and friends in Iowa. That’s a place and a project very close to my heart and I’m always in a great mood when I’m out there. Without the mitigating impact of the Iowans, my head would have likely fallen off and exploded. 

Thursday night I resolved not to let myself get dragged down to the level these folks are operating on- I haven’t done it at any time in my career, and I’m not doing it now. Despite the relative importance and magnitude of the problems of the week- it wasn’t very difficult to put them into proper perspective. As I was drifting into deep sleep Thursday night, I felt like a lion in repose, surveying the savanna, while these problems and problem-makers were the insignificant little gnats flitting about. (Overdramatic I know, and maybe it wasn’t about problem people as gnats, maybe it was about my luxurious mane surviving 15 months of chemo.)

With my head on straight, Friday ended up being a great day. The problems of the week had not magically vanished, and people continued to test, but none of it got to me. As I wound down the day at the home office, the one and only Ethan Collier dropped by to say hey and sign some paperwork. After talking business, he brought up last week’s post. He pointed out that in my writing about the relationship between a father and his children, I neglected to account for the role of another- our Heavenly Father. We chatted about that for a bit, then he borrowed my bible and read a passage he felt would be meaningful for me (and it was). Serendipitous that the high point of the week would involve a man that’s the antithesis of the people who had me down earlier in the week. That was a special moment and a perfect end to an imperfect week.

And, yes. I did find a caterer.

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