The Art of Constant Refinement

lego buddies 1.15

I deeply admire my colleagues.  They are definitely the biggest job perk I have, and are the driving reason I keep showing up at the office every day.  Even though I am technically their supervisor, I learn from them each and every day.  I could probably dedicate an entire post to each of them and how they impress me.  Today’s goes to Carlton and Linsey, both inspirations when it comes to accepting responsibility and then changing.

Linsey and I have worked together for almost a dozen years, and Carlton and I for one.  When Linsey makes a mistake, I get a phone call immediately, from her.  “Sharlene, I screwed up.”  What follows is a mistake that could definitely be bigger, a plan for owning it and rectifying it that I simply have to approve, and more humble pie than necessary.  I never need to call her on anything because she beats me to it, and I never need to recap it because she’s so hard on herself that there’s no point in me adding to it.

Carlton takes feedback with a quote: “In the spirit of constant refinement,” he’ll say to me, as he passes on the most recent gem he’s learned.  I’m flattered to pieces on those occasions when I hear something I’ve said echoed back at me.  Mostly, however, I’m in awe of his commitment to learn, grow and change.

What they have in common, besides their commitment to constant growth, is their willingness to publicly show their mistakes.

As a mom, I realize that what defines me the most is my ability to eat humble pie on what feels like a daily basis, and still get up and do it again tomorrow.  My kids witness my short-comings more than anyone else in life.  I joke with my friends that I am the very best apologizer, as my kids give me ample opportunities to practice.  I’m not joking.

I am too strict with one the day after I’m too lenient with the other.  I set an expectation at night and forget what I already told him in the morning.  I err on the side of “make your own mistakes” one day and helicopter parent the next.  It’s common for my kids to actively challenge my parenting, “Mommy, but why don’t you just….”

  • Let me choose
  • Ask me nice
  • Talk softly to the dog
  • Wait 5 minutes

The list goes on.

I am defined, in part, by how I take their opinion.  Whether they communicate it to me directly as above, or whether they communicate it through their behavior or emotional reactions, integrating that feedback is the best gift I can offer them.  I want to know how to be the best parent to my kids, knowing they both need different things at times.  As hard as it is to hear that I may not be meeting their needs all the time, facing it with the courage to change allows me to be a better mom to them the next day.  My mistakes won’t define me, but accepting them might just “refine” me.

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