Too Much Information, Part 2

September 21, 2012

You’ve been there. You wake up in the middle of the night, haunted by them.  You’ve lost your appetite, drank that extra beer, and kicked the dog, all because of them.  You’ve come home to your loving wife, or husband, or cat, looked into their eyes, and felt inadequate, less than who you thought you were, surely less than they think you are, just from a single encounter with these invaders.

They come in many forms. The new employee, all enthusiastic, with shiny new skills and a polished resume.  The guest speaker, waltzing in as if they’d figured everything out, easy as pie.  The intern, oblivious to the real world and its constraints, putting in extra time and effort, all to make you look bad.

This is the too much information that comes when new people arrive in your territory, uninhibited by all the drivel, unrealistic demands, and pernicious politics that have stripped away your shiny polish.  Waltzing in, they’re like a neon sign reminding you of the dreams and strengths and possibilities that once were yours.  Their presence activates weird fun house mirrors that simultaneously show off all their best features while making you look like the victim of some weird internal explosion that is somehow miraculously still being held together by your skin.

We say enough!  You have suffered too long already, and do not deserve this mockery.  Much better to bar them at the door, let them know they’re not welcome here. Here are some tried and true tips to do just that:

  • Remind yourself that no one can do what you do like you do it – which means that there’s no sense in getting any help from anyone else! Much better to be run a little ragged than to welcome in the inadequate interlopers.
  • If you do have a necessary encounter with these aliens, you can recover quickly by focusing intensely on whatever is most familiar and entrenched in your job.  There’s nothing like the routine of routine to cancel out new thoughts.
  • If you just can’t shake lingering thoughts like “I really do wish I still knew how to smile” or “maybe we don’t need to use carbon copies anymore” or “gee, I could learn to samba,” then immediately find a colleague, friend, or drunken stranger at a bar who understands how much you’ve lost, how hard it’s been.  They’re sure to remind you that you’ve turned out like you have for very good reasons, and, really, there’s no use crying over spilled milk.
  • And, of course, the best recourse is to face the problem head on: become a mentor.  You don’t want them to suffer like you have!
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Failure: The Subtle Revenge

July 13, 2011

Or, as we like to say, Failure: the other success.

As we point out in our advice column, Why Bother?, failure is a fantastic place to be, especially when it’s repeated, hopelessness-engendering failure.  You may ask, why?  You may say, that sounds rather dismal.  Of course it is!  That’s the beauty of it.  Let us explain.

Consider some of the arenas of failure: relationships, school, job/career, improving your lifestyle (say, eating better or exercising more, giving up addictions, etc.).  When you fail at any of these, what happens?  Pain, that’s what!  Feelings of inadequacy, guilt, perhaps shame.  You may also experience a desire to fix the blame on someone else (Your spouse just wasn’t supportive! Trauma from your childhood left you unable to cope!), angry defiance, and the like.

Hold onto those feelings!  Bank them!  They can guide you through many dangerous situations – situations which might suggest you try again.  We say, why bother?  The outcome is predictable – you’ve already experienced it – and it’s just a lot of work.  Remember the pain, the guilt, the anger, feel it all again – and give the “try again” thing a miss.  This way you save time and energy.  Success!

There may be those in your life who shake their heads at you, thinking you’re missing out on something.  There are two things you know that they don’t – and here’s the meat in the stew of failure as subtle revenge.  First, you are right and they – well, they’re just dead wrong.  You already know this.  Second, you know deep down that if you really wanted to, you could succeed in whatever it is – you’re simply choosing not to.  Therefore, you’re smarter than they are, and you win.  Success!

While there is a kind of brute-force rubbing-their-faces-in-it revenge in success, we note that the more elegant, subtle revenge lies in total, complete, abject, repeated, hopeless failure.

Make everyone sorry.


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