Thursday, January 12, 2012

Look at me!

When kids learn a new skill, like hopping on one foot or skipping for the first time, they shout, “Look at me! Look at me!” (and they’ll keep shouting at you until you do). I love that.

I remember as a kid learning to count to 100, and coming to the realization that if I could count to 100, I could count to 200, 300, 400 – as far as the hundreds could go – and who knows where from there (a million seemed an aspirational goal). I counted aloud to my parents so they could witness my brilliance (I’m confident this was not at all irritating for them).

Somewhere on the road to adulthood, most of us lose the “look at me” factor (sometimes it’s replaced with “please God, don’t look at me, whatever you do”). Maybe it’s because we’re taught bragging is unattractive (and anyone who’s ever been in the same space with someone who drones on about their accomplishments knows there’s more than a grain of truth in that). Maybe it’s because we realize that in many cases, other people can do the same things we can, like hop on one foot, skip, or count to 100 and beyond – sometimes even better or faster or more gracefully than we can. Somehow, we get the message, “you’re not so special” and we act as if it’s true.

As children, it’s irrelevant whether everyone else in the world or no one can hop on one foot – we couldn’t do it before and now we can. It’s cause for celebration. It’s “look at me” worthy. There’s something about sharing our success that makes it that much more exciting and rewarding.

Every one of us accomplishes things every day – big and little (Today I had three productive meetings, I learned how to position the little man on google maps to get the street view AND although I was tempted to stop on the way home and get takeout, I opted to go home and make dinner, making a healthier choice for me and my wallet). Look at me!

Ironically, I think what many of us fear about so-called failure is that people will look at us and judge. They might just do that (although that’s probably more about their own fear of failure than any innate failing in you or me). Or maybe, they’ll see someone who is willing to jump into uncertainty and try something new, knowing that before you can master the proverbial hopping on one foot, there’s a period of flailing and arm waving (maybe even falling) as you find your balance. Then one day, you just do it, and it seems odd to imagine a day you didn’t know how. When this happens, remember: There's a whole lot of joy in: "Look at me!"

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