The Pragmatic Hybrid

But it says so in my lab notebook

For the past few months, I’ve been the lucky beneficiary of Jen Hofmann’s smartness and goodwill in the super-secret beta version of her Inspired Home Office Community. (Don’t be jealous! It will open to everyone in August.)

This morning, getting ready for our monthly planning call, I was casting around in an old notebook looking for notes from June’s call, all the while telling myself a subconscious sotto voce story about how I need to get it together urgently, as always, because life is short and everything dies and I want to do so damn much and impermanence and and and.

(All this internal rattling is exactly the kind of thing that Jen’s work is such a powerful antidote for, by the way. She shows up with her calming presence and her compassionate view of you and your to-do list, and the mean inner voices just fall silent, and you get gobs of important-to-you stuff sorted. It’s amazing.)

So, I was pretty sure I hadn’t done anything too worthwhile with my June, besides life and business maintenance. Most of the important projects I wanted to move forward? I didn’t remember them happening.

You probably know where this is going.

It is truly amazing what I am capable of forgetting.

I went back over the list of June’s Possible Projects to remember, oh yeah, I did that. And I did that too.

I got a crap-ton done in June: had a birthday, traveled, was a guest expert in Abby’s Freeing the Voice of Your Business, got waylaid by and subsequently sorted out mysterious health issues, made a huge, life-pivoting decision about the future of my work, and tried to keep up with a massive growth surge that is taking over my life and presenting me with numerous and varied Learning Opportunities (a.k.a. big annoying new things to integrate, like, NOW).

This was in addition to every-month tasks, like life stuff and writing and talking to coaching clients.

The point is that I had no memory of what I’d accomplished. I had to go back to the notes to remember it all and give myself points, and to score my efforts more accurately than in the accounting that exists in my memory.

So it makes a kind of sense that I wake up many days feeling behind before I’m even upright. (Which is kind of unfair, isn’t it? How can I be behind when I was asleep? Shouldn’t sleep stop the accomplishment clock?)

My perception – that I’m Always Chronically Behind, and chasing my most important projects as they manage to stay just out of reach – does not reflect reality. My notebook says so!

Thank god for all that lab biologist training to write down every single step in a bound book – because of this habit, I have the incontrovertible documentary evidence that Scientist Me requires in order to be convinced, since memory can be slippery and easily co-opted by unhelpful forces.

Especially, apparently, when it comes time to acknowledge my own doings.

It’s a result of my good-girl training, deeply internalized.

It’s the weight of the accumulated injunctions to be modest, humble, sharif (“noble” or “honorable” in Urdu), all taken to their desired end – the disappearing of the knowledge of our own power. Of our natures, which are wild, strong, wise. Effective.

And not at all modest or self-effacing.

What we find when we start peeling back these indoctrinated layers is that we carry within us many voices and instructions and commandments that we adopted so early and so completely that we forgot that they originated with anyone but ourselves.

Sometimes it takes a page from a notebook, written in your own hand and subsequently disowned from memory, to return you to the knowledge that you’re a natural.

Comment Fu

This space is like a Quaker meeting that is happening in my living room. Honored guests, please speak as you are moved to. And let’s be awesome to each other, because graciousness among friends is why we hang out together.

  1. Kylie

    I adore this post, but this was my most favorite part: “Shouldn’t sleep stop the accomplishment clock?” I really and truly laughed out loud at that. Because really: SHOULDN’T IT?!

    And also, yes: a lab book is so necessary. When it comes to my own accomplishments, my memory is not to be relied upon. Not at all. Written proof is much needed.

  2. Lori Paximadis

    Oh, yes! I have been known to take the time to add things I’ve already done to my project management/to-do list program just for the joy of checking that little “done” box so I can feel like I’m making *some* kind of progress. Well, it started out that way, but it’s actually been a really good tool for looking back and seeing just how much I actually do.