2019 gave me an incredible opportunity to grow, learn, and really reexamine my priorities, methodologies, and desires.
I started this missive with the words Courageous, Confident, and Logical, but I wanted to refine my intentions even more. While courage and confidence were huge pillars for me over the last year or so, I don’t think they accurate describe what I’ve sought and continue to seek in my thoughts and in life. They’re even a little too wishy washy. Relentless is the confidence to not stop in the face of either potential or actual failure. Dauntless is the courage to look something or someone really intimidating in the eyes and believe that you can be a worthy opponent. While I had my faltering moments this year, I aimed to be relentless and dauntless in the challenges I took on, and I think more often than not, I succeeded in embodying those ideals.
The third descriptor, Analytical, is what keeps me from being the bull in the China shop. There’s been a big push at work to be incredibly analytical, to examine the data before coming to anecdotal conclusions. We’re letting our numbers, our community, the current market trends, and sanity dictate what we undertake. “This is the way it’s always been done” is notably absent from that list.
I spent a lot of time post morteming the last decade of my work decisions, which was crazy making until I realized that my own gut was more often than not correct when I was given enough information. I spent a lot of time over the last two years doing that with triathlon as well, and when I revised some unuseful processes and really prioritized the important stuff. I have done my best to spend time both deep in my own head, and also looking at my thoughts and actions from over my own shoulder to figure out what makes me tick and the true reasons behind my thoughts and actions.
My only regret is that I seem to have unmade some health and triathlon-related habits over the last few months in the pursuit and passion of other hobbies, but it’s all about priorities. My work life has changed so much that instead of looking for things to be done, my plate is now 200% full each day. For 2020, my goal both in work and in my personal life is to keep a constant stack rank of all the things, and figure out what falls below the “suck” line. At work, that means they’ll have to be delegated, we’ll have to make the process more efficient, or we’ll have to decide it’s unneeded. In my personal life, it mostly means that I’ll have to decide what is most important, and give myself permission to suck at or leave undone the rest.
Putting aside analytical for now, as that’s not a huge challenge for me, while Relentless and Dauntless take a little more oomph for me. I searched my mental archives for some of the things of which I was most proud that embodied working on my weaknesses here.
I’ve made strides in my public speaking over the last decade (it’s kind of required when you lead a team), however, this last year took it to a new level. Each month I’ve spoken in front of the company, and I got the opportunity to be on a panel at SXSW. It’s grown from a quick wrap up where I talked on the surface of our features and thanked the team to an in-depth look at thoughts and motivations behind the psychology and analytics of our strategy on features. I’ve also taken this from a literal script I would write for myself and read not as confidently as I would like to being able to do this without said script, just a power point with a few bullet points, as long as I practice it a few times beforehand. This is something I’m hugely proud of, as I’ve always considered myself more of an actor (reading prepared lines) vs a charismatic speaker (my own thoughts, more off the cuff). I look forward to more opportunities to practice this art in the coming year.
Dauntless is an obvious one here, as public speaking is further up on some people’s list-o-phobias than spiders or even death. I will also offer relentless as I aggressively pursued the opportunity to speak at work until it was just expected of me on a monthly basis.
Bloodbowl, a turn based strategy game loosely based on football/rugby starring orcs, elves, and other fantasy races attempting to kill each other in interesting ways, is the best worst game ever. It’s frustrating, one unlucky dice roll can ruin your game even if you’re doing everything right. It’s definitely “not my kind of game”, and it was definitely not intuitive to me and I wasn’t magically good at it when I picked it up. Just the opposite, quite frankly. I sucked. Instead of letting this faze me, I embraced the incremental improvements. In fact, last season, I remember thinking at one game halfway through the season, “this is my best loss yet, with a few things going my way, I could have maybe even tied!” and then, I was able to tie, and I’ve even won a few matches after practicing like hell.
While I’m proud of the fact that I was undaunted by the level of difficulty and relentless in the fact that I wasn’t innately good at it and didn’t immediately give up, I think I’m most chuffed by the fact that I asked for help. When I started to improve, I found I had more questions than answers, and instead of going into my own research hole and banging my head against things and getting frustrated, I asked the winner of the last season for advice, and he’s sorta my coach now. 🙂 I still have to catch myself from apologizing too many times about asking his advice, because he truly does seem to enjoy giving it, but I’m making progress.
Speaking of the mentality of apologizing for taking up space, let me lastly circle around to Dungeons&Dragons. It finally hit me this year that these sessions weren’t only an excuse to eat cheese and misappropriate song lyrics. The exciting thing about becoming someone else is that you can explore other mindsets, other mentalities, other viewpoints, and do things that are either against your nature or that scare the fuck out of you in a less threatening way, and try how they feel on for size. Playing a genderfluid bard has done things like reinvigorate my love of music, poetry, and writing, but has also let me explore the psychology of stepping outside of traditional female thought processes.
It’s reinforced that if I want things, I need to ask for them. No one is going to show up and offer me my goals, I need to pursue them relentlessly and dauntlessly, obviously using my logical side to make sure I’m taking the correct steps to get there.
I’ve tried on internalizing successes and externalizing failures as it makes sense. Obviously, I want to learn from my mistakes, but I’ve tried to stop letting it shake my core. We make mistakes, sometimes they’re not really our fault, sometimes they completely and totally are, and that’s what it means to be a human. I may be imperfect in my actions and thoughts and words, but that doesn’t make me an unworthy and inadequate person. I have the chance to wake undaunted and relentlessly try again the next day in pursuit of whatever it is that’s on top of the list.
I’ve learned that rejection is not the end of the world. Honestly, my character is better at it than I am, I’m constantly fighting a situation where me IRL wants to say “fuck it”, but it’s absolutely not what my bard would do, so I’m sticking with it as an exquisite exercise in frustration ><. However, it’s a great lesson that simply because something doesn’t work out the first time doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be. The more confident I am in certain areas, the more dauntless and relentless I am to make it happen. I need to believe in myself and summon that same magic power in wide variety of areas.
And in that same vein, perhaps next time I’ll tell you a story about a guitar.