We’re Doing the Best We Can!

In my recent post about core values, I mentioned the guiding principles I try to live by:

  • Treat others how you’d like to be treated
  • Assume good intentions
  • Love yourself

They go along with the core values I figured out that drive me: kindness and making a difference.

It’s important to revisit your intentions, because if you don’t keep putting them out into the world, they can just whither away. The stressful state most of the people I know are in right now makes it really, really easy to wallow in sadness, self-pity, or anxiety. People like me can experience some remarkably steep reversals in their personal growth (which I’ve mentioned a couple times in the past few weeks, so no need to beat that topic to death).

Perhaps I need this sign in my new office. Image by @dunahoot217 via Twenty20.

The Golden Rule’s been taking a bit of a beating lately, when I find myself getting defensive and not saying things as kindly as I would prefer to, and it doesn’t help that my attempts at being kind or helpful can get misinterpreted, leading to an ugly circle of no one being at their best. Knowing perfectly well that the only person whose behavior I can change is mine, I’m going to try to stay a little more in my higher self zone, and not reflect back any perceived negativity I get from friends and family, which might stop the circle.

trying
I deserve a reward.

This brings me to the second principle, of assuming good intentions, or that everyone’s doing their best. This topic has independently come up a number of times in the past few days, which hints that I need to be paying attention, right? Just as I’m firmly convinced I’m doing my best (in other words, I’m not being mean just to be mean…ever), I need to remember that the people I interact with are ALSO doing their best. I have fallen down at this lately, but now’s the time to get started again!

Honestly, I don’t know anyone who’s a jerk just for fun (I’ve probably de-friended them), and even people with whom I disagree strongly usually have their hearts in the right place or are acting sincerely based on their upbringing, culture, and experiences. I have started practicing making a conscious effort at remembering that, and am amazed at how differently I act. I just need to keep it up, both online and in person!

Coming from a place of love, not anxiety!

Bear in mind, friends, that sometimes things just don’t come out like they are intended, whether from tone of voice, lack of tone of voice (text, email, social media posts), nervousness, or simple misunderstandings. I need to give people a break. People need to give me a break. We all need to give each other a break!

Lee and I have been having some good conversations on these kinds of things lately, and we’ve found our own communication getting a lot easier. I am proud of both of us! By explaining where we are coming from, we can be a lot easier on each other’s little foibles (because we ALL have them!). His support and understanding mean so much to me (along with some other helpful and trusted confidants). I suggest you try out the whole assuming good intent thing on those closest to YOU and see how it works!

Image may contain: Sue Ann Kendall, eyeglasses, selfie and closeup
Teamwork! That’s what counts, say the blue hairs (this picture is from early 2019 I think).

And one more thing, if anyone is at their best right now, firing on all cylinders, working at 100%, and treating everyone they encounter with kindness and understanding, please write a book really quickly and tell the rest of us how you did it! It would be a major blockbuster best seller!

What Are Your Core Values?

You just get to pick TWO!

I’ve been reading Dare to Lead, a book by my favorite self-help author, Brené Brown (it’s the book I reviewed the horrible workbook for back in March). It was my suggestion for our work book club at Planview. What’s annoying is that I keep leaving the book in Austin, so I hadn’t been able to keep up, but I finally remembered to bring the book back with me last time I went, so I was able to read the correct chapter for today’s meeting.

I sure am glad I did, too, because some of the things she has us thinking about in the “Living Our Values” section helped me focus on not only how to effectively deal with coworkers, but also how to deal with the people around us during this pandemic.

Brown stresses that it’s important to know what your personal core values are, because they will affect how you make decisions, work with others, and treat yourself. And you only get to have TWO of them (though she lets you pick sub-values, too). I already had a set of guiding principles I live by:

  • Treat others how you’d like to be treated
  • Assume good intentions
  • Love yourself

But, I’d never chosen a mere two words to be my core values. So, this was an interesting exercise to me. I ended up with these:

Kindness

Making a difference

Kindness was easy. I have always tried my best to be kind, and feel unsettled and weird if I realize I’m not being kind (usually it’s when I find myself being judgmental, and I have to snap out of it).

Here are the value choices I had to select from. Oops, no one can read this list on their phones. Here’s a link to the list on Brown’s website.

I had a little harder time figuring out that making a difference was the correct second value. I thought about my past career choices, both paid and volunteer, and I easily saw that what tied them all together was that I wanted to somehow make life easier for others and/or make a genuine contribution to society with what I did. I’ve helped build educational databases, taught college students, helped mothers breastfeed, gave organizations and individuals websites to spread their messages, written documentation and made e-learning for software companies, etc. In all of these, I’ve been wanting to make a difference to people.

When the time came to do our book club meeting, the three of us who’d made choices of values had all chosen kindness as one of them. I guess I’m not as original as I thought, or people who choose kindness tend to join book clubs! I really enjoyed talking to the other three women who were able to attend today, and am almost glad it was a small group, because we were able to share in meaningful ways. Thanks, Zoom meetings!

Other parts of the little chapter I read hit me very close to home, too. Brown included a discussion of keeping this in mind when you are providing feedback:

“…everyone is doing the best they can.”

p. 215

It helps me with the judgmentalism I need to worry about so much in myself. And it’s my core belief that I need to assume good intentions. And like Brown’s husband Steve pointed out, even if it’s not true, things sure work out better if you just go ahead and make that assumption.

Hmm, can you try to do that with people on the other side of the mask wearing issue? Of the other political party? I find that to be a very interesting exercise, and one that I wish I could share further. It’s not that, “Oh, why can’t everyone just get along,” plea. It’s more of a, “Where are the people I disagree with coming from, and can I use that information to better understand them, or to talk to them productively?”

The kindness art I have on my bulletin board.

I’d really like to talk with more people about these core values and how they inform our lives, and these really helpful attitudes toward other people. Feedback is welcome!