Trust and choices


I know that I never say never, because it’s the things I say never to that I inevitably wind up doing. Seriously, TOO OFTEN does this happen to me. Never is as infinite of a thing as forever. Forever scares me more than never, though.

Think of it: what would be worse: never go to, say, Peru, or to be stuck forever in any one place? No matter how awesome the place? Yes, I suppose I’ve got a sort of claustrophobia or aversion to being boxed in.

Speaking of being boxed in, I noticed in a few people in the last week just exactly what happens when they feel threatened, or discover that they have lost the position of power in a relationship. They get extremely aggressive, normally. It’s a dead giveaway. The best way to recover if you are ever actually desperate is to be as calm and detached as possible.

Which brings me back to my previous point: that always looking for leverage is a real pain in the butt and things would be better if we could just always be open & honest, and if relationships are balanced.

Now balanced doesn’t mean perfectly balanced; it can mean complementary. What it cannot mean is where there is a fundamental lack of common ground or of mutual respect in an area both find to be important.

Like me: I’m sorry, but I don’t care who or what you are, I will not respect you if I don’t think you’re intelligent. I might still like you and hang out with you, but I’m never going to respect you or allow you to be a close friend. Same thing if you screw me over or gossip about me (not the kind of gossip that comes with love …. The other kind), then I won’t ever completely trust you. Not that I don’t gossip. Because I do. But there’s a difference between gossip with love (some people I honestly only have good things to say), and that other kind of gossip.

We’ll also have problems if the pace is different. I’m a sprinter and an athlete and everything that entails, so keep up or be left behind. Nothing wrong with being left behind per se. Not everyone must finish the race at the same pace, but if you struggle to keep up or slow me down, that’s the sort of thing that will cause those avoidable problems down the road.

What a week this last week was. Monday & Friday in Cape Town, Tuesday-Thursday in Joburg, and a massive deliverable I found out about in Beijing due Thursday morning at 10am. That completely threw me, and my week, out of whack. On the plus side, I was able to do what I had to do to get it done, which was actually no mean feat when you consider what all was involved. The first draft was 8 pages of mostly business analysis and technical approach, and I put it together in about 24 hours. It wound up being 11 pages long, I think, after several technical reviews (aka grillings!) by our partners.

I was actually quite proud of myself for the quality I was able to produce in the time I had, and the relatively few substantive comments from people who had been in the industry much longer than I. It may actually be the case that I know what I’m doing. Sort of. Imagine that!

It messed me up badly though; all sorts of being up far too late, partly because I refused to compromise my social schedule as a result. I’m only in Joburg every so often (by which I seem to mean every week!) but my dinner calendar is normally full and I really enjoy time with both the people I saw, so my sleep suffered and I even had to miss a day of training after staying up until 2am to finish the doc. It wasn’t perfect and the perfectionist in me was so upset at not having had a chance to do a final read-through or all the areas we didn’t have enough time to answer to my satisfaction. But I actually got a call the next morning that made it all worthwhile, and I also must say in a strange way I appreciate the work ethics of some other folks, as I was on the phone for nearly an hour around midnight.

Your partners will take a call from you because they have to. But between vendors and spectrum genius talking to me with no notice and sending me all sorts of cool materials (this process delivered a lot of very interesting stuff into my inbox, I can’t wait to distill it all over the holidays), I was feeling quite happy and lucky.

Another jacaranda. Can you tell I like flowers?

Another jacaranda. Can you tell I like flowers?

But actually: think of the trust that you must put in someone to have them take the lead on writing a document with multiple companies’ brands attached to it. You test people all the time, but you don’t give them something important unless you’re either sure or have no choice. Or both; ha!

What an exhausting time! It was an excellent week, starting off with a fascinating meeting at an ad sales house, lunch with a board member that was great until it ran late and messed up my afternoon, and then a late afternoon session at Ellipsis to talk about reporting requirements for WAPA finances and to put together a code of ethics for us volunteers. Then I went home to start on this document, but found I was too emotionally wound up from earlier in the day, so I went to bed.

The next morning had a minor disaster in the gym (wasn’t entirely recovered from the long-haul flight so I found out what being out of shape must feel like), followed by yet another interesting discussion with a soon-to-be customer doing what sounds like some very cool stuff, then to the bank to pick up our new corporate credit card and straight to the airport where I checked in all of 10 minutes before the flight closed (as one does), and still made it to the gate with room to spare. They really need to put the Vida on the other side of security.

Some feeling of unexpected relief (unexpected that I was so relieved that is), in the form of a brief chat conversation then dinner at Montecasino. Apparently there is a bookstore in there that has a champagne bar. I’m going to have to go check that out. I mean, if Cape Town is going to have beaches, Joburg can at least have air conditioning and champagne! Probably bubbly; not actual champagne.

The next morning’s workout was similarly dreadful. I was sucking wind dreadfully and I can’t just blame the elevation. Not pretty. Speaking of pretty, watching a 130kg hang clean. Wow, that boy is something else.

The rest of the day was spent between meetings, calls, and working on that document. I did have a great 2-hour session with our dev partners. Always a pleasure to be with such awesomeness and coolness, then dinner with an old friend and one of the smartest people I know. Also a Babson grad. The dinner followed a particularly painful phone call and I’m quite jealous of this guy no matter how much he’s jealous of me. Right now, he’s trying to decide his next thing and that is always a fun place to be. Although I was explaining the various forms of …. Hmm, call it negotiation and strategy, going on at the moment, and he is correct.

I may bitch and moan about the lack of sleep or the stress or the feeling put upon or the irritation of having friends who act more like enemies than your enemies. But at the end of the day, it is interesting, and there are enough people looking in from the outside thinking that my life is pretty cool that that means …. Well, nothing really, right? Who cares what other people think. You do and you don’t.

The Thursday was actually the biggest meeting day in terms of volume, and that worked out well. Got to meet some other Ruckus fans, which is always fun for everyone involved. Then a lunch with an ISP, and over to the HQ of Internet Solutions. That never ceases to amuse me. Well, they still let me in the door. For now.

Attended the WAPA exco meeting from there, and probably the two big things I accomplished this month was getting everyone to agree to how I had framed the specific objectives within our strategic framework, so that we can now move to the next step of project approval and budgeting (yay!), and also helping to defuse and decouple an issue that didn’t need to be handled the way it was being handled. You just have to see things in their constituent parts, and not glom everything together.

When I left IS it was hailing, and raining, and crazy thunder and lightning. I concluded that a higher power had it in for Dimension Data for their public misuse of the term ‘carrier-grade’ in a PR piece. Kind of like the speaker at WBA whose product was horrible and intrusive and he misused the term ‘offload’ which, amongst that crowd, is an immediate ticket to that kind of unfortunate gossip I mentioned above.

By the time I got to the airport, I thought everything was fine, but the flight was delayed. Understandable under the circumstances and gave me a chance to give a high level overview of the science behind strength & conditioning over chat, which was about all my brain was capable of at that time anyhow, due to general exhaustion.

I made up on Friday for not eating on Thursday

I made up on Friday for not eating on Thursday

Then the humour of the actual attempted departure, as we got onto the plane and the hail restarted, and 105km/hr winds. It was almost a tragicomedy as we pull away, then there are a few planes ahead of us, then there is debris on the runway, then the planes ahead of us leave, then there’s more debris somehow, then a Mango plane has to make an emergency landing, then he can’t move out of the way because he can’t taxi so they need a tug, then finally we have to go back to the terminal because we need more fuel (after sitting on the runway for an hour idling… sounded suspicious to me). I didn’t care though because I was too tired to care, and was a bit giddy from lack of sleep, among other things, and having met a bunch of Americans on the plane (one was from New Hampshire, went to school in Boston, one was from the Bay Area, and one even happened to be attending St Paul’s at the time and was far too amused that Simpson used to be a girls’ dorm).

Yeah so long story short I get home around 1am, up again at 6 for physio, then off to work. One of those days that all the caffeine in the world couldn’t help me, so luckily I didn’t have anything more important than reviewing aged payables and I don’t even know what all else. Actually I do.

I spent probably about three hours total just talking with various staff members. They don’t need to know what goes on in the sausage factory but we do have some interesting things going on at the moment and if you don’t tell people what’s going on, in company meetings and one-on-one, they will talk amongst themselves. I know that. So you must also socialise plans, etc. But it’s not a chore; not in the slightest. And it makes me happy to hear some of the stuff.

Rudolph and I actually had a great conversation that went a bit deeper than it ever had before. As I say, it’s my job to shield people from the sausage factory. It’s my job to keep sight of the forest for the trees, and let people focus on what they need to focus on. But sometimes, an extrinsic event brings up a long-overdue conversation, and that was what happened in this case.

It is great when your own opinions of yourself and of your opinions of others are validated, in no uncertain terms. Even more interesting was Rudolph telling me about the part of the Cape Town/ISP gossip scene that I don’t hear. Wow, it’s interesting what you hear. Sometimes one new piece of information will change everything … like a very brief conversation I had at the hotel bar after Africacom; and this quite similar in terms of insight. What was less interesting, and surprising, was that he relayed just exactly what sort of a reputation our company, the two of us, and specifically I, am/are getting in the market.

Trust. I trust him enough to tell him stuff I shouldn’t. Same goes for Anita, and also some of my external partners.

Why do you trust? Well for me, I trust when I like someone, when I think their motives are aligned with mine, when they haven’t screwed me over that I’ve seen, and when they also trust in me. There is something so crazy powerful about having each others’ back. We may not be perfect but if you can’t trust the people close to you, then you’re definitely totally screwed.

I’m lucky. Very very lucky. Then again, come to think of it, so are they. At least, so I like to think.

Friday night: low carb revolution dinner at Silwood, hosted by Rob Wilkinson. What an experience! Between the amazing food, music by Digby & The Lullaby who I hadn’t seen in ages (GOD they are beautiful, that voice ….), good company (much of the Butlerverse inner circle, the Faull brothers, and then of course a personal trainer, aaaaaaaaaand my crazy beautiful friend Sam who I never get to see), and some good wine, I was pretty happy all things considered at the end of that.

Saturday I sandwiched a Biscuit Mill trip with the gym on one side and movie night/braai with Hes, Ryan, and Michelle on the other. Was awesome to see all of them and just chill out over movies. The gym was also interesting because between the travel, lack of sleep, etc. I hadn’t been training much and when I had been it didn’t feel good. So I was feeling lethargic and roused myself out of bed, slowly made it to the gym, and even then couldn’t really do much because my core was in a state from the GHD situps earlier in the week. It really, really, really felt like a chore. I think I may be losing the love.

No words. Right?

No words. Right?

But then I got to playing. Rack jerks; and nice to know I can still throw my bodyweight over my head without having practiced in months. Narrow grip overhead squats; harder than they sound, and, just like normal ones, they get easier the heavier you go (up to a point, I’m sure). Then onto the cleans. And that was where the magic came back. There were some in there that just felt perfect. And granted the weight is still pretty light (it needs to go up if I’m finding them this easy), but WOW there is something just so beautiful about the feel of a well-executed lift. The bar just FLIES; I mean it really does go weightless. And then you deadlift the bar to move it across the room and realise it’s somewhat heavy!

Still. A hard realisation but one I’ve come to recently is that you can’t force anything. I was talking to Jason last week at Kyalami and no matter how you may try and deny it, you will always have one thing that’s your primary thing, and everything else must accommodate that. I could spend all day at the gym. But until my shoulder decides to complete its healing, I cannot compete, at least not in most competitions.

So there’s my Achilles’ heel.

  • “I’m unprofessional at least six times a day.” – Ellie
  • “I think they know better.” – Sam
  • “It’s only five minutes.” – Ellie
  • “Courage. Keep your way.” – Cedric
  • “Your current status is not your future condition.” – Costas
  • “For the life of me, I have no idea what they are doing.” – Costas (that makes two of us)
  • “We’re just playing around here. This market is too small.” – Costas
  • “It’s OK that it’s challenging.” – Rob (thank goodness!)
  • “Better than you’re going to be just now.” – Rick
  • “I would have been disappointed if you did not respond.” – Raven
  • “It’s much more fun to stab people.” – Johann (Grand Theft Auto. Really.)
  • “Ok, there are some differences. They left out a question.” – Piers
  • “I have to say, I’m kind of jealous of you right now.” – Craig
  • “Doing business with Ellie is dangerous.” ”Well that much is true.” – my new work husband & me
  • “I say things I shouldn’t at least six times a day.” “Well I can guarantee you that you also hold your tongue at least ten times as often.” – Ellie & Dominic (maybe five)
  • “Maybe they confused fully booked with completely empty?” – Ellie
  • “And by not necessarily you mean in no way, shape, or form?” – Ellie
  • “I’d vote for you next year.” – Jens (unsolicited compliment!)
  • “It’s not the first time he’s done something like this.” – Rudolph
  • “No, she didn’t go for prudishness or hypocrisy. She was from Ireland.” – Rob
  • “I don’t know where the French got us with their revolution.” – Rob
  • “I think I’m outgrowing the cult.” “What? Did you have dessert?” – Ellie & Rob (yes, I did.)

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