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Facing Up

April 14, 2014

The other day Abbie and I were walking down an alley and I was, as usual, trying to keep her from eating gross things she found on the ground. (Note to first-time readers: Abbie is a dog).

The alleys around here are wonderlands of disgusting items, so yanking guiding her away was keeping me busy.

“Why,” I thought, “Are alleys so foul?”

The answer came to me quickly.

Because nothing faces the alley.



See, it’s just like us – the things we don’t want to face up to are where all the detritus gathers, where stagnation happens and trash piles up!

Dude, I have to write a self-help book. This is the kind of thing every team-building off-site needs!

Or maybe not. The other day I witnessed the work of a corporate speaker-type, a hired gun motivationist, brought in because the troops were flagging.

Her topic was laughter and how important it is. Overworked? Managed by incompetents? Working with outdated computers? Laugh your troubles away!

I wasn’t terribly annoyed until she gave this advice: If you aren’t happy, pretend to be happy! Soon, you will feel better.

I almost came unglued. Fortunately for the listeners, I was on mute.

PRETEND! Ignore your real feelings!

If you want a culture of addiction, illness and fear, this is great advice. If you want any kind of real life with connection and growth, it’s a bad idea.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It seemed so anti-everything I believe in. I think you’ve got to go out into the alley and take a look around. Take inventory. See whether you need an emotional Haz-Mat suit, or just a broom and dustpan. Work on it. Clean it up. And then keep an eye on it, because it can fill right back up again.

Thank you. You can mail the check for the speaker’s fee to my office, or send via Paypal.

  1. Maria in Oregon permalink
    April 16, 2014 15:58

    I hate that kind of stupid advice. Sounds like a lot of corporate types unfortunately. I know an office manager who tapes up little tidbits of chipper advice and sayings on the ladies room wall every so often. I’m kind of sick of re-reading the “Choose to be happy” one. The intentions are good, but some poor folks simply can’t “choose” to be happy when shit’s hitting the fan.

    • May 6, 2014 20:49

      The whole positivity thing is almost an addiction with our culture. I sat through 9 motivational speeches in a row on Saturday night and by the time the whole thing was done, I was kind of grumpy about it. I feel a blog post going on.

  2. April 26, 2014 07:07

    So many of those corporate off sites just suck. When I was working at a company that did such things, we were all tasked with planning one off site. Mine was lunch at a fancy restaurant. No speakers, no crap, just delicious crab in San Francisco. And yeah, being told to pretend you’re happy while there are objects or people in the way of getting your job done, that sucks.

    I also read your post about not drinking, below, but comments there are closed. It takes strength to do what you’ve done, and clearly the side effects of drinking too much are horrid. Also, think of all the money you’ve saved! I’m not there yet, if I ever will be. But I’ve gone from a nightly wine habit to a weekend wine habit, and working on limiting the weekend wine as well. We’ll see if this sticks, or if I decide I’d be happier with no wine at all.

    • May 6, 2014 20:48

      I like the lunch idea. I’m always up for unstructured time. I think a lot of important stuff actually happens when people just get the chance to hang out.

      Thanks for the not drinking support. I’m actually considering drinking a very little again. There just are times when I want to have a glass of wine with a girlfriend, and I think that would work for me.

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