Look Forward, but Don’t Forget to Look Back

From time to time (though, less than before), memories of dramas, failures, and mistakes haunt me – even keep me up at night. It should surprise no one (who knows me) that they usually involve my professional life. A new addition to my team is a chance to mold a stranger into a more confident and more creative version of herself, and there’s little as satisfying as teaching her and watching her learn, ask questions, experiment, and succeed. Needless to say, some of those who have come and gone have not left fond memories in their wake.

One stands out in recent history. More than any other, she (unintentionally) taught me more about myself and how to become the person I want to be. On what ended up being her last day, she caught me off-guard with an outburst of anger. It didn’t end well. I had fully intended to seize the moment and turned it into an amicable learning experience. I listened and asked and listened some more to uncover underlying insecurity, or anything that made sense. But her negativity overwhelmed all reason. I couldn’t turn the situation around. She lost her job and I lost confidence in my ability to build my team and create an environment where my writers could flourish. That day, we were both victims of her ego, and the repercussions haunt me still.

Fast-forward several months: I’m mentally prepared for it to happen again (and I’m sure it will), but I have this niggling feeling that I might lose control of the situation again. I know I have the tools to deal with such a moment, but this isn’t like learning to ski; getting back up after falling down is all well and good, but failing in the professional world has deeper and longer-lasting effects than taking a spill in the snow. If I had more practice, I’d have this thing down pat, but I can’t say I really want the practice, either. But, I do kind of run the scene in my head from time to time and imagine (rehearse?) what I would say (should’ve said?) if someone like her crosses my path.

You’re probably wondering what I’m getting at. It’s this: constant recollection and reflection are essential to looking and moving forward. The experiences that haunt me are reminders that it is within my power to hit pause and take a step back; to always have my #girlboss pants on; that reasoning with an angry person is a useless endeavor; and that NO ONE is too old to get a time-out.

The end. And happy new year.

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