What will you be working on forever?
That is the question I put to Anna Quindlen and Anna Sale on this week’s podcast. We ended up in conversation about money, mindshare and control in the context of marriage. Anna Sale was particularly forthcoming about how they run the numbers in her house which led to her husband saying that he never worried she would cheat on him but he did wonder if she had secret bank accounts. I myself struggle in just this same way.
Here’s a few other things on my running list of that which I cannot yet master:
1 — remembering not to fall for my version of events, whatever the event might be. i have to work really hard to see that I am, like everyone else, an unreliable narrator desperate for closure. this comes up constantly on the podcast — next week you’ll hear George Saunders say: I think therefore I am wrong. the following week you’ll hear Margaret Atwood speak to this same habit. so yeah, when i’m talking to literary giants who can’t stop themselves from racing to conviction, i forgive myself but i do keep that idea at the top of my daily to do list.
2 — slowing down in my work so I can deliver something better, tighter, more original. sometimes, for me, the sight of the finish line is a dangerous thing. I see it and I want to get there now so I hit send or publish or go when really, I should sleep on it, let it cook a little, see if i can do better on tomorrow morning’s caffeine hit. this goes for my writing as well as my communications. i am embarrassed to say i have sent many emails I should have deleted immediately over the years. apologies if you were one of the recipients.
3 — fewer opinions, more curiosity. this is a biggie for me. i really like to lead (my kids, my husband, my partners in all kinds of collaborations) and by lead, i mean run the show. but that effectively caps everything i can know at what i already know, which isn’t nearly enough to do the things I’m trying to do. the answers are out there, i remind myself. before i get on calls, i tell myself not to come into the meeting with a strong opinion. “hold your point of view lightly” is pinned to my bulletin board. “consult and defer while you’re learning” is another one i look at on the daily.
i could give you 10 more but i’m wondering what are you working on?