Thursday, August 13, 2009

Forgiveness and the art of paying attention

Last night I was up working late on a Server design for some new clients when I found I made a mistake in the original setup. As I didn't want to stay up the rest of the night redoing it all, I found a different way of accomplishing the same task. I proceeded to put in my design and got the system up enough to do the testing that I promised my boss I'd have done in the morning.

When I woke up, I received an email from my boss telling me to "Stop what I'm doing" and that I was "doing it wrong". I don't tend to like either of those sentences, especially in Engineering, but I carefully crafted my perturbed response. "First off relax" I said, then went on to explain what had happened and how I managed to work around it for testing purposes. I felt the reply was carefully planned to where I was standing up for myself, while still explaining the situation.

The reply from my employer did not support my analysis of what I said. It was simply a single sentence that read "stop the BS". Now at this point all kinds of dismay was flying around in my head so I asked myself how would a highly evolved conscious creator respond to this?

According to what I learned, the first think that is important when being criticized (unconstructively), is to be sure to not buy in to other people's negative outlook. Instead, turn what they say around into something you love about yourself (thank you Jeanette). This manifested itself in a way I did not expect. The minute I had that realization I looked over at the car next to me on the Interstate and it had a small bumper sticker that simply read "I (heart) BS".

This was to me, the universe offering some welcomed humor to the situation.

By the time I got to work, I had summoned up all kinds of wisdom for dealing with the situation with my boss. Including:
  • Forgive everyone, yeah even that guy that cut you off on the way to work this morning
  • Confront with the expectation that things will get resolved
  • Display the kind of response you'd expect if the situations had been reversed
This helped me to get my point across without turning the situation into more of a confrontation then it already was.

When I got to the office and confronted my boss, I asked questions regarding that he was afraid and angry about. I did not accuse him of jumping the gun, though I felt that he had, the floor was open to resolving the conflict without one person having to bow to the other.

Later on in the day, my boss and I made another discovery. Turns out, he had spec'd out the hardware wrong and the whole architecture needed to be redone after all!

Instead of pointing at his earlier reactions to me, or responding to his screw up the same way he responded to mine, I saw the chance to display the calmness and understanding I expected when faced with my own mistake. I said "no problem" and quickly explained how I would make a couple quick changes to the architecture in order to accommodate the requirements without having to scrap the whole design.

Summary: When faced with nonconstructive criticism, we can either let it eat at us until we finally succomb to the failure we're made out to be, or just stay confident and focused until intuition points us in the right direction. Today that happened to me and I'm grateful for it! It made the whole day a great day. In my past I normally wouldn't have seen things quite that way.


  1. Great post Tim!

    What it made me think of is 'beginner's mind'. When I come into a experience with beginner's mind - to me that means - I know I have more knowledge to gain. I am open.

    When I am locked in (like your boss was) to thinking that things 'have to look a certain way' then I am missing opportunities. I am missing solutions.

    To me, this is a big part of LOA. When I frame my request 'for this or something better' I am on the look out. Not just for what I think is good - but even something better.

    Sometimes I can be like my 6 year old tonight. Saying 'i want this' - why is it not here?!? I was offering him something better, but he was SO focused he was not hearing or receiving.

    Gee, I have a lot to say tonight! Maybe I'll go write a post on my own site! Thanks for the inspirations!

  2. Awesome Cheri! That's a really good point. LOA isn't really about getting everything you want. That would be shallow. It is about keying into why we're here and seeing the we can direct life in a positive direction.

    Both Michael Beckwith and Gregg Braden talk a lot about this. In one of his books, Gregg spoke of a Monk in Tibet who was speaking of his prayer. Gregg asked him if their prayers are so effective, why is Tibet in such peril? The monk almost laughed and said, 'our prayers are not for Tibet but for the whole world' (I'm paraphrasing).

    We could look at that and say why then is the world in such peril, or we can imagine the great things are are sustained because of their prayers.

    The 'beginner's mind' you mentioned is a unique way to look at that. Is that a quote from someone, or did you make it up? I'm interested in exploring that further.