Calm the heck down

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Do you ever have experiences where you work yourself up into a tizzy so much that your internal voice needs to reiterate in a shouty, annoyed tone, “Would you just calm the heck down?!?!” Maybe one of these days I’ll actually listen.

Last week, I had to deliver bad news to a client – we’re working on this giant project and we weren’t going to make a deadline. I was sure she was going to be upset and yell at me. I panicked. I practiced what I was going to say. I felt my pulse race. I took a deep breath and dialed the phone.

Client, I’m really sorry, but we’re working as fast and hard as we can but we won’t have this ready by Monday. I’m pulling people off other projects and putting them on this full-time, but it’s a lot to do and it can only go so fast. I know this isn’t ideal and I really apologize for that.

And what did they say?

I know you’re working hard. Keep chugging along and we’ll touch base next week to see where it’s at.

What?!

Where was the yelling? Where was the screaming? Where was the “What do you mean it won’t be done??” That’s what I’d prepared for! That’s what I’d panicked and had my heart racing for!

Color me surprised, to say the least.

I’m a traditional Type A personality that hates to let people down. I aim to please – always have. One of the unfortunate tradeoffs of that is that I hate (hate, hate) delivering bad news. My mind instantly goes to the worst-case scenario of what could happen and I do everything in my power to prepare for that, inevitably to attempt to soften the blow.

But what I’ve found is this:

People – whether they’re your clients, bosses, coworkers, friends, family…whoever – are human too.

Now, I’m not saying that you should go blowing deadlines all the time or continually disappoint people just because they’ll forgive you. But if you’re really trying your hardest and people see the effort you (and in my case, my team) are putting in, they’ll often be understanding when things don’t go as planned. And, being transparent and just picking up the phone (instead of procrastinating in your communication), goes a long way.

Now if I could just remember that in the future, my blood pressure would be a lot better off…

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Dealing with disappointment

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Not our year

Being a college basketball fan in March can send you on the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. From the Cinderella schools who make a run in the NCAA tournament to those teams that are always near the top, but just hoping this year might be the one to bring that championship home – March Madness is ripe with excitement one way or another.

Unfortunately, for Michigan State fans, we ended up on the “lowest of lows” end of the spectrum all too early.

From frustration at “only” being a #2 seed on Selection Sunday to losing to Middle Tennessee on the first Friday of the tournament, to say that last week was rough for Spartan fans would be a gross understatement. I was at an on-campus bar to watch the last half of the game and you could feel the sadness emanating as it became clearer and clearer that this year would not be our shot at the championship.

“Not what we’re looking for”

Just 24 hours before Michigan State lost in painful fashion, I was sitting in the airport when I received a call notifying me that I hadn’t gotten a job that I’d interviewed for a week prior.

It was a tough decision, but the team has decided to go in a different direction. Classic HR.

The Five Stages

In both of these situations, I felt my brain going through the five stages of grief.

Denial
Job: This is not happening.
Basketball: This is not happening

Anger
Job: How could they not want me? They’ll regret it!
Basketball: Those dang Spartans! They blew it!

Bargaining
Job: Well, maybe if I just showed them how good I am, they’ll change their minds…
Basketball: Well, maybe they’ll go back and see that there was a mistake and we really should have won…

Depression
Job: Why doesn’t anybody want me?
Basketball: We’re never going to win the championship…

Acceptance
Job: Well, maybe this wasn’t the right opportunity or the right time for me. I’m glad they gave me the chance to interview and I’m sure another great job will come up again soon.
Basketball: Losing isn’t fun, but we’re fortunate as Michigan State fans that there’s pretty much always next year. I’m proud of how our team represented themselves all season and, as always, I’m proud to be a Spartan.

All in how you handle it

This last point, acceptance, is my favorite. It’s the one where you get to reflect and realize that everything will all be okay.

Disappointed as I was to not get the job, I realize that I’m fortunate to have a job now where people support me, my work is valued and I’m financially stable. It may not be the forever job, but it’s a great option while I’m working to find the next great thing.

And the next great thing will come.

I believe in the idea that things happen for a reason and that every experience is one to learn and grow from. This job may not have been the right fit for me now, but something else will come along that I’ll be perfect for.

And as for my Spartans? Well, let’s just say that it’s easier to get to acceptance when you’re represented by coaches and players this great.