On Being Right

Why do we feel the need to be right all the time? Why, when we know full well that who’s right or wrong is long forgotten but when you make someone feel like an ass, they keep that with them for a long time? Why is winning the point sometimes more important to us than keeping a friendship together?
One of my dearest friends and I didn’t speak for nearly … two years? All over something stupid, and both of our pride kept us from reaching out to say ‘I was wrong, let’s make up.’
At the same time, you can go too far the other direction. I once had a particular relationship in which I had to lose every single fight … because there was just no winning and eventually someone had to be the adult and give up. Thank the blazes there was never anything critical at stake.
I suppose in a way it’s all about expectation management. You (or at least I), don’t get mad when something doesn’t go my way. I get mad when I am specifically told or promised A, and then B happens. Sometimes it’s just inexcusable. Sometimes it’s a lack of explanation of ‘if Z, then B, otherwise A.’ I had a couple of big customer service fails this week, including the kind folks at Discover Card putting my international call on hold for 25 minutes. Their IVR should be smarter than that, I’m sorry.
It’s also partly about the insecurity we feel in our own selves and positions. How many times in a week do I catch myself, when someone has an idea, saying something along the lines of ‘Oh yeah I had that idea ages ago, here’s why it’s not done yet, but you’re right we really should do it.’ Or ‘Funny you should mention that, because I was just saying the same thing yesterday!’ Right? Right. Well, my goal for the next week, and we’ll see what happens after that, is to cut that nonsense out. It’s all about the idea, not who gets the credit for it.
Ok sometimes the credit is important … but not all the bloody time, firstly, and secondly, the quickest and easiest way to get or keep people motivated is to give them credit for, and run with, their ideas … even if you had them first.
I suppose it’s also like QA … no one ever pays attention unless QA fails to catch a huge bug. No one ever pays attention to all the things you DO that you say you’re going to do, or all the advice of yours do take, or all the things you are doing well … we tend to focus so much on the negative. In a way it’s healthy, without that sort of critical feedback loop you won’t improve (my rugby player acquaintance reports that his explosiveness on his cleans is much improved, but he’s having problems getting his arms around quickly enough). But too much focus on the negative and you can create or encourage a negative system of self-talk, which actually does create a self-fulfilling prophecy more often than it doesn’t.
Maybe I was just having one of those weeks. “Isn’t your birthday around now?” “Yeah, it was last weekend.” Oops. “Look, I ripped my hand.” “Yeah I stopped doing chest-to-bars because I was afraid I might rip my hand before tomorrow.” “Well, it’s too late for me now.” Yep, open mouth, remove foot.
I did have a bad-good experience this week where I was just in a lousy, LOUSY mood for no good reason and snapped at a co-worker, and then my co-worker told me to get over whatever was bothering me because otherwise it would ruin my whole day. So I did … actually almost instantly. Harden the f*ck up, in other words. But she was right, and also smart to position it like that rather than by focusing on the impact my lousy mood was going to have on everyone else.
Happy times, though – making some decisions about event pricing for the hub, I got MailChimp up and running for our three brands (ahh leverage…), and a couple other things moved the ball down the field quite a bit but until they are done and dusted I won’t count my chickens before they are hatched.
We had quite an interesting discussion about the KONY 2012 video. If you haven’t seen the video, it’s worth checking out. This blog post sums up my responses perfectly. The video itself is nothing other than well-executed propaganda: they used some great classic marketing tactics (us against them, David vs Goliath, right and wrong, removing the unspecified victim bias by showcasing specific, and cute, children), and at the end of the day removed the despair by making it crystal clear how to take action. It is true …. I’ve known about Kony for years from The Economist but this video tugged the hell out of my heartstrings. However, marketing is marketing …. And I’m not convinced that the solution is as simple as it sounds. It never is. And hell, there’s bad stuff going on in a lot of other places, too. But I guess you have to pick your battles, and throwing your hands up that the world is an awful place isn’t a very good solution either, is it?
I managed to balance being more social (movie screening of a documentary about an Eastern Cape rugby team, our monthly women’s media group meeting, got a comp to a magic show Friday night, shopping mission with Hollie, dinner in Gordon’s Bay with Deon Saturday, Sunday brunch), with resisting temptation in the form of chocolate cake and late-night SMSs that spelled trouble. This is the good thing about not drinking – you’re much less tempted to do something stupid when you’re sober!!
Interesting discussion about privacy, and specifically in relation to our online lives on Thursday evening. One of the girls was saying that she had a scare last year when someone on Twitter kept mentioning all these really small details of her personal life … like her cat’s name, where she had gone to high school, etc. It turned out this was a joke but another woman had actually had a bad stalker experience which, of course got us talking. Sharing, in the world of the internet, is inherently about personal lines. Some people are quite closed. I am obviously relatively open … there is a lot of stuff I don’t share, but a lot of stuff I do. For the most part, I am who I am in whatever situations I find myself and as such if you know me, you’re not going to see anything online you wouldn’t see in day-to-day life. The difference, of course, is the number of people that can see.
It’s like the old argument I used to have with Rob about paying in cash vs card. I know that companies can track my buying habits. I just don’t care. It’s not like I’m building a meth lab. But, I suppose, as with the QA example above … it’s all fine and dandy until it’s not. But in the meantime, I’ll carry on.
And anyone wanting to stalk me … well, if you don’t know where I work and train by now, you haven’t been paying much attention.
Speaking of: You know, I love CrossFit. Except for the bits about it that I don’t love; that same competitive side of it that feeds me also gets to be too much from time to time. I don’t *actually* want it to be just a gym where we go and train; I like the part about how we’re competitive within and between gyms. But it’s just a bit much every once in a while … it’s intense. 
It’s also a bit much for the ego. It is so, SO easy to get caught up in how you compare, and how you look, and how people outside the gym respond to you: “Good luck on the Argus!” “Um, I’m not a cycler.” “But you look so fit!” Yeah, it’s an ego boost. Much as I joke about it, every time someone asks if I’m a personal trainer/fitness model/bodybuilder/professional athlete, it feels nice, of course. But at the same time it’s quite tiring … I didn’t get into this CrossFit thing for that, and actually, it’s a bit annoying to be honest. 
Oh, the Open? Well this week’s workout was 18 minutes long … 15 box jumps, 12 push press (75 pounds/33kg), 9 toes-to-bar. My ankle was absolutely fine … it’s doing its just-in-time healing thing again (I could jump maybe 2 days before the burpee workout, and could power clean & snatch about 2 days before the snatch workout, and I was scared to jump on a box on Wednesday but was fine by Thursday). Certain moves still hurt it but it’s definitely nearly better.
Anyway this time, I was actually relatively pleased with my performance. It was fine, fourth best in the region and two of the people who beat me were from our gym. If I had the motivation to do it again, I feel could have done better, but after 18 minutes of hell I had no desire to do any such thing again. Used my arms and shoulders too much in the push press (which I felt Sunday … yowzers!!), but the biggest problem was the toes-to-bar. Here, I must admit I am guilty of not paying enough attention to Carl Paoli. I did have some grip issues because after the first two rounds I forgot that I was supposed to be concentrating on not having a death grip on the bars, so that didn’t help. More to the point, I was using a very inefficient kip, and after the first couple rounds I got hung up there and lost a lot of time. Some practice the next day set me straight, but again – a good learning experience.
Everything’s relative, right? I’m much better than I was last year, both relatively and absolutely. A lot of people have been commenting about my streak of strict paleo + big doses of sleep, mostly noting how amazing my discipline is. Thing is, I don’t see it that way. Life is a series of choices. For me, once I set my mind to something it’s quite easy. A year ago there’s no way in hell I could go for two and a half months without having a latte or a glass of wine. So that level of discipline, if you can call it that, is also an adaptation that it took time to grow into. And when I do make an exception, I’m sure I’ll take it in stride and get back on the wagon quickly, because this is my new normal.
Until I decide to change it.
  • “Snap out of it, Ellie.” – Hollie
  • “There’s a girl sitting next to you, who’s rowing faster than you are.” – Chris (I had to laugh)
  • “Remember, selling is about conditioned responses.” – Peter
  • “I prefer gypsy.” – Brett
  • “Yeah but you’re comfortable with your place, babe. Most people aren’t, and that’s why this sh*t arises.” – Fiona 

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One comment

  1. I pay attention to QA, they hate me for it, but we seem to deliver better software.

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