The company I work for, Functional Pathways, started in 1995. Since that time, Dan Knorr has never had an Assistant. His administrative & travel needs have always just been split up between me and a few other kind hearted people at the office willing to help out. So about a month ago, WE ALL decided that it was time for him to hire an Executive Assistant. We interviewed a handful of experienced candidates in a panel style format. One particular lady came in to interview and was highly recommended due to about 10 years of office experience. The interview was going really well. She was super friendly and smart and funny too. She looked a lot like Melissa McCarthy actually. So, I asked “Melissa” about her knowledge of Microsoft Word & Excel. She says, “I am very proficient in all of Microsoft Office. I actually have a really funny story about that. When I took this job with my current company about 7 years ago, they asked me the very same question and I said oh yes, I know all about those programs. I actually had never worked on a computer, other than emailing! They hired me anyways and I just figured it out! Ha Ha!” Melissa was just laughing away and so were we until Dan said, “So you lied during your last interview to get the job?” She said, “Yes! I guess I did! I really needed the job. HaHa!” So then he said, “Well, have you lied to us today during this interview?” She said, “No!! Not Yet!” I mean you have to admire the fact that she was open and honest during an interview. Taking responsibility is one of the most important qualities in a person’s business and in their personal life. BUT, seriously, her timing was really off. I’m all for owning up to the mistakes you have made and how you have learned from them, but some things are better left unsaid.
Our Company Values are the foundation for how our employees carry out their daily responsibilities at work, and we hope these values also carry over to their home life. This week, our value to focus on is RESPONSIBILITY. I preach the importance of taking responsibility to our kids every day. From being responsible for your backpack, to cleaning your room, to admitting when you made a mistake, to being honest and humble. I also preach it to my team at Functional Pathways. I tell my “girls”…you are a human being and you will make mistakes. You will say the wrong thing to someone on the phone and they will get pissed. You will show up late for work because you were out late and overslept. You will come unprepared to a huge corporate meeting because you forgot to type up your agenda (this one is me). Whatever the case may be, you have to OWN UP TO IT. The worst predicaments my team has ever gotten into is when someone tried to cover something up or passed off the mistake onto someone else. I tell my team that we can overcome and repair any issue, but only if we are working as a team and we are all on the same side.
When our kids were a lot younger, the oldest came to me one day to tell me that his sister, who was about 6, had been saying bad words on the bus. He said it made him feel really sad and he thought I should know. I told him thank you for sharing that and I would speak to his Dad about it. I asked if he would mind telling me what his sister had been saying. He said it was a really bad word and started with a B. Well, as you can imagine, all kinds of B curse words were running through my mind, so I decided to try and narrow it down a bit. I first asked him if he could give me a hint about the type of word it was and he told me it was a woman’s body part. That helped. So, I threw out a couple of the more obvious, but I was wrong over and over. It must have been a Friday afternoon, because I wasn’t on my game. I finally said “Well, what does it rhyme with?” He was like, “Oh ok, well it rhymes with china.” I wasn’t expecting that. I’m thinking, what word starts with a B and rhymes with China and is a woman’s body part? I finally said “Wait, has she been saying BAGINA?” He’s like, “YES, that’s it.” I was trying not to laugh, but that was like the funniest thing ever. So, then I asked how she was using the word on the bus exactly and he said “If you don’t shut up I’m going to punch you in your Bagina” and “Kate wants to kiss Jeffrey in his Bagina.” WHAT THE??
Dan & I enjoyed a glass of wine over this story that evening then he went to confront the culprit. TWO HOURS of grueling questioning and interrogation, but that child would not own up to saying Bagina. She did, however, incriminate herself further by admitting words like Stupid, Dummy, Butt and a few other winners. He did finally wear her down though and she threw herself on her bed with a wailing cry and said “I been saying the word BAGINA!!” So, the punishment was worse that it should have been if she wouldn’t have wasted two hours of her Dad’s time lying and also admitting all the other things she had been doing wrong. If she would have just taken responsibility and owned up to it straight away, the evening would have gone a lot smoother. But that’s a tough pill to swallow for a 6 year old.
That stubborn 6 yr old is my step-daughter Erica and she is 21 now and in college. One thing that I have always taken responsibility for is the fact that I haven’t been the Tennis skirt wearing, Betty Crocker cookie baking, field trip chaperone that I could have been. My kids know they can always round up lots of food in this house and they will always have clean laundry and a place to call home filled with love. But, I’m not the go to Mom for homemade cake pops, Pinterest inspired custom Valentine cards, and scrap books comprised of family camping trips (this girl doesn’t camp). While I take full responsibility of the fact that my days, M-F, are consumed by my job and evenings/wknds devoted to my kids, along with that comes doubt and regret. I will admit that leaving my 1 yr old at daycare was a very hard thing to do. It was the right thing, but it was hard. I want to share with you an excerpt from a letter my spunky step-daughter wrote to me a month ago. Not a text or email, but a real legit letter.
“If it weren’t for you, who knows where I would be right now. You are the reason that I am able to do the things I love. I probably wouldn’t have anyone to support me with my Sorority or take me shopping for my proms dresses. I definitely would have failed all of my English classes. You are one of the strongest women I know and my biggest role model. I hope by the time I’m forty I have raised four amazing kids, be running half-marathons, and still manage a full-time job. I know that I don’t call you Mom, but I think of you as one.”
I want you as the reader to know, I didn’t post this letter excerpt for me, I posted it for you. This story is not about me, it’s about you. If you want to be the best parent, friend, spouse, co-worker, boss, mentor….that you can be, JUST BE. Give yourself a break already. Be who you are and take responsibility for the things that you can control and strive every day to be a positive influence on someone else. I love this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die.
And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”