When something goes wrong and you’re alone, it’s frustrating. When you’re with someone, it’s an adventure.
That reminded me of the quote I shared in the very first Randomness.
My brother and I were backpacking last week. We were talking business while we hiked, about the differences between running a solo company and one with a team, when he shared that saying from his wife. What’s true for business can be just as true for a backpacking trip, or traveling, or pretty much life in general.
I loved it. Like the thing about failing, she’s right.
We were winding down a leadership group get-together last week. Folks started sharing random things, like Cart Narcs. Apparently, that’s hilarious. Since our teenager grew up to be a twenty-something, I’m way more out of the loop on what’s cool around the internets.
Glenn shared something random I’ll loosely call the ‘Don’t Get A Question From The Waitstaff’ Game. He plays it with his family and friends when he goes out to eat. If you’ve never heard of this game and want to give it a try, here’s the basic premise:
Don’t get asked a question from the waiter or waitress when ordering your food.
‘We’d like the Seasonal Crostini to start, and I’ll take the Pollo alla Milanese along with a glass of the Rio Vista Tempranillo.’ If the waitress moves on to the next person at your table, congratulations! You’ve succeeded. ‘Would you like bread or a side salad?’ Doh! You’ve failed. Better luck next time.
The reason this quirky little game caught my attention is in how it could test my ability to think about all the options beforehand and then clearly communicating what it is I want. So much so as to leave the wait staff without a question to ask. Sort of like foolproofing what I say.
I see a lot of opportunities for that skill to be useful. I guess I’ll need to start testing myself next time K and I go out to dinner.
This summer we’ve had four fires within a 10-mile radius of our house. None of them threatened us directly, but close enough for K and I to sit down and think about our evac plan should that happen. It was an enlightening exercise. Living in Montana, my brother and his wife recently did that, too. What he wrote me seemed to sum it up nicely:
‘When we were thinking we’d be evacuated last month, we started thinking about what stuff we’d bring. In the end, we actually don’t have any real “valuables” that we couldn’t leave behind.’
That mostly held up for K and me, too. We’d grab our (ironically) fireproof box, the hard drives that hold our 100,000+ photos, and our binders of film negatives (yeah, we’ve been photographers for a while). Maybe a few odds and ends. The point we realized is that, like my brother and his wife, we don’t have much of what we’d really consider valuable. Which made us ask the question, ‘What makes something valuable?’
I’ve done this exercise before, most recently when I left REI after 16 years. Admittedly, there were only a few things I took with me that I guess I deemed valuable. It’s not to say everything else I had there or we have in our home is crap. I think what’s important is in asking myself the question every once in a while so I can keep tabs on essentially what I’m prioritizing.
We had just pulled out on our way camping last week when something reminded K of a story from years ago. We were both working at REI. A bunch of us from Marketing were volunteering at the local food bank a few blocks north of the Kent campus. On that particular day, they had us boxing up carrots. It was always orderly chaos, with vegetables or other produce flying as we raced another company to see who could package up the most.
At the table K was working, there was an older guy she didn’t know. He was pretty quiet, she recalled. As things wound down and folks whisked as many of the remaining carrots into bags to then go into boxes, K watched that guy take a single carrot, place it in a bag, and send it down the conveyor.
A few moments later, another Katie who was running the boxing station held up the single-bagged carrot and shouted, ‘Alright, who did this!?’ Silence. My Katie remembers the guy chuckling to himself. No one suspected and the chaos picked back up.
When she’s older, K said she wants to be like that guy. Do silly things that no one suspects. Remember to have fun.
The idea of having fun at work is a big one for me. It’s tough running a solo business, even tougher cut off from the rest of the world left for the moment to put together virtual programs. I admittedly haven’t cracked the have-fun-while-facing-a-computer code yet. Her story was a good reminder to me though that it’s important to have fun. Especially at work.