Rote versus Elegance

I have taken two business math classes in my life. I am positive I missed something, couldn’t tell you what, but I could work the problems and come up with the right number, but it didn’t make sense, I didn’t internalize it, own it, or try to make it elegant. I just did it by rote, and got my A and moved on.

Knowing that you are somewhere on the path to a cancer diagnosis from initial discovery to waiting for biopsy results forces you to reevaluate things, re-prioritize things. Start taking inventory of the different areas of your life what is rote versus what is elegant, what you internalize and what you just move on from. What gives you energy, what steals your energy.

The most recent thing is the colors of the walls in my house. They were earthy greens and browns. I didn’t mind them until one day when I did. We decided as a family that we wanted the color palette from a series of pictures we took on vacation, blues and teals with sun bleached white. Voila! The walls and ceilings were painted, new curtains were hung and the house resembles those pictures and we love it.

Other areas, like work, are a little harder to re inventory and re prioritize. While out for six months, there were a couple of projects at work I stayed current with, they were with people I respected, admired and aspired to be like. That’s not to say the other projects weren’t all of those things, they just had a high degree of politics and drama associated with them, who needs that while dealing with cancer and chemo? I don’t care for politics and drama when healthy, why deal with it when sick. Can you avoid drama and politics in the workplace? In life?

I truly believe that a job well done is a job well done, doesn’t matter who does it. I also believe that leadership should remove barriers for a job in order to be well done, doesn’t matter who does it. I have seen in jobs where leaders remove barriers and espouse certain people’s projects over others. I understand it, its politics, and I do what I need to to get the A, but by rote, but I don’t internalize it, make it elegant or make it my own. It consumes my energy to be part of these projects.

Same with the excessive drama, I don’t believe that shouting, yelling, or demeaning is the way to bring out someone’s best. I don’t believe that projects done under fire while firefighting are the way to do things. I understand that is the modus operandi of some people, I do what I need to and get the A, again by rote, but I don’t make it elegant, or my own and I certainly don’t internalize it, I just get it done. These projects consume significant amounts of my energy, too.

The projects I stayed aware of, make no mistake there is no staying on top of projects while experiencing the dog days of chemo, infections and surgeries, it was an awareness level at best. The projects I stayed aware of were the projects where I tried to make elements more elegant, not just a simple answer, but one that truly included the most important, necessary and controllable factors. I made it my own, every document I sent out was a we succeed type document, never a they-did type list. These projects were a part of me, I completely internalized them. They gave me energy, never consumed it. I got way more energy from them than I put in and I put in a lot!

I’d like to make all aspects of my job like those projects. We talk a lot about standard work and leader standard work on the job. When I came back I took a long hard look at mine and made some serious notes, interestingly enough I can’t change it. But…When I am part of a project and something is lagging, I ask questions now. What about this is difficult for you to do? Drama, politics, fires-something else? What is going on so that I can remove those for you? I take stock of the facial expressions, what caused frowns, sudden stone poker faces, rote responses or staring at the floor? What just happened to cause those things to be visible? I take stock in the positives, what caused ownership, elegance, energy, energetic facial expressions? What can I do to make more of this happen for the folks?

If I could remove all of the drama and politics from my life I would, I would do it in a heartbeat and I wouldn’t miss it for a second. If I could do it for everyone I would, I really mean it. That is the impetus for Survivor Sherpa. I want to carry the burden and remove the barriers of the crap associated with daily life for those people dealing with cancer so that they can focus on what really matters to them, what gives them energy, what they have internalized so that they can thrive after treatment and become a more elegant version of themselves when all is said and done.

Published by survivorsherpa

I am a wife and mother to three daughters, a chemist and a breast cancer survivor. I would very much like to help others by caring and advocating for them while sharing my experiences and tips that may help to thrive during and after treatment.

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