Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jack-of-All-Trades

"Queen of the Workaround"
"Girl Scout"

Just a few of the things I've been called over the years by friends and co-workers at times when I manage to pull off something nobody else could. Whether it's fixing the printer or wrapping a bloody hand with supplies I pluck from my purse or thinking outside the box to find a solution for something that has us all stymied, there are times when I dig deep and produce a fix.

Others call it by these names. I call it survival. When you're a kid in a desperate situation, it pays to learn how to act so that you can get random adults to do what you want them to. It pays to put something together for dinner out of whatever is in the pantry so you and your siblings can eat. It pays to pretend that you know exactly how to do something so that others will leave you alone to do it. And often, once you pretend to know how to do it, you actually figure it out.

You learn early that confidence stops questions. Nosy people will stop looking over your shoulder if you can convince them that you've got it handled. A shaky voice and trembling hands invite inquiry. Shifty eyes and twitchy feet are just asking for supervision. Frankly, adults who have a lot on their own plate are ready to let themselves believe that you are wiser than your years or independent enough to take care of yourself so that they can go back to doing what they were doing and not worry about you.

Growing up, I learned to seek out the people who were not micro-managers. College philosophy classes honed my debate skills to the point where I could convince myself of just about anything. Justify almost anything. And that, my friends, is the first step in convincing someone else. I got jobs I had nowhere near enough qualifications or experience for simply by acting confident. And I brought a lot to those jobs. Innovation. Work-arounds. Simplifications.

Desperation breeds ingenuity. Independence breeds confidence. Fake-it-till-you-make-it worked for me. I did spend my share of time in classes to learn things "the right way," but knowing what I know now, I'll take my life experiences over those college courses any day in a contest to determine what taught me the most.

2 comments:

Wanda said...

I am sorry for the circumstances that you lived through. So glad you lived through them. It is good to be the queen.

Deb Shucka said...

If you haven't watched William Ury's TED speech, you need to (it's on Wanda's blog). You remind me of him.

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