I’m a pretty social person by nature. I like people.
I like friendship. Human connection is something I crave.
And yet, the demands of my job, and motherhood, and my marriage have often left me feeling like I have no time or energy at the end of the day to offer my friendships.
And that’s just wrong. And I know it. I keep contemplating about how I am going to go about fixing this. My feeble attempts to this point have been sort of fruitless. Maybe that’s because they were just that: feeble attempts...feeble being the operative word!
Luckily, I get to work with someone who I can also call a friend. Maybe having my employee be someone that I’m also close to is not very professional….it is certainly not very corporate. But you know, the companies that I most enjoy working with are those that have a warm, family feel. I think that is rare in this day and age. And I want those rare obscure gems in life.
My hubby thinks Beth and I are so complementary because we are so like-minded. He jokes that we are from the same ilk. It is true that we share a Danish heritage (hers Larsen, mine Levsen and Jensen) and the strong work ethic that comes with that. We share Mid-western roots (hers Minnesota & Illinois, mine Iowa) and a deep and strong desire to love and serve the Lord…. to do good and to be good. But I also think we are so complimentary because of the ways we are different and the skills that we each have that the other lacks.
Beth brings her baby, Christian, to work with her, and we don’t punch a clock. Sometimes she gets in at 8:30 and other times it’s after Christian’s first nap at home. My kids and dog run in-and-out of the studio (with a particular bravado after 3 o’ clock). Our studio floor is sometimes an obstacle course of my kids’ shoes and socks all a-scatter with a portacrib and exersaucer along the way.
I often wonder if we should really be looking more closely at hours billed for our manufacturers to take a look at how profitable we are being and how that might be enhanced….and we probably will have to do this soon. But you know what? I love that we could have the heat of a deadline huffing hot breath on our necks but we still take time for a bagel run at the Bagel Shack ( "two SanO bagels with cucumbers added, please!" )….or to interact with Christian… or to stop and pray. I don’t think we would be nearly as productive or artful if we didn’t have those reprieves.
Flying in the face of my social nature, there are those times though, when I do conversely yearn for quiet solitude: So I can hear my own thoughts again…so I can hear the voice of God…so I can retrieve those creative ideas from the vortex in my brain. And sometimes my work requires it. Like right now. The manuscript for my next book is due soon, looming ever-closer. And I have found that writing for me, is an entirely quiet and cloistered process. Sadly, I can’t gather my thoughts and write when Beth is here. It's not just Beth though, I can’t write even with Gerry around. It is something that requires my full focus. I can get obsessive about it, actually, but that is what I find is demanded of me to get it done and get it done to my standard.
So as I carve out my perfect monastic environment for writing, Beth is at her home finishing out some straggling deadline work. It’s so great to have this dynamic duo effect. When one of us is forwarding one project, the other can be forwarding another. We edit each others’ work. We are an ever present sounding board for the other. I’d like to think this makes our art and product just that much better.
My father-in-law, Pop Liken, a very successful businessmen to this day, has often said that one of the keys to success in life is to not be afraid to surround yourself with people that are better than you…that are more talented than you. I have really found that to be true in my life experience. When you surround yourself with people that stretch you and that can teach you…where you can exchange experiences…that is when the richest experience is yielded and when the best is brought out of everyone. I want to teach my kids that!
That two are better than one. Don’t isolate yourself.
Don’t let insecurity prevent you from befriending people who are more accomplished than you. Be teachable. Be flexible. Share the credit where credit is due. The accomplishments of a team working in tandem can be so much more significant than one person struggling along on their own.