I drove around the bend on a country lane today and saw a woman on a horse, on the other side of the road.
She waved her arm up and down at me, to say ‘slow down please!’
I was immediately annoyed.
I was driving at the speed limit (or near enough).
How could I tell she’d there, around the corner?
Normally, if I see a horse approaching, I do slow down. I am (and see myself as) the type of considerate person who would slow for people (usually kids) on a horse.
How dare she…! Etc etc.
But of course, she doesn’t know what I’m like 99% of the time. She judged me on what she saw on her first encounter with me.
That made me feel gloomy. I’ve been good a hundred times, doesn’t that count for anything?
At work and elsewhere
I thought about the parallel with work and other relationships. Is it the same?
If you have a stellar track record in a target-linked job, do you get the sack if you have one bad quarter?
If you’re usually calm and dignified in the face of extreme stakeholder pressure, does it matter if you let slip during one meeting and show it’s affecting you?
If you’re a loving partner, does one inconsiderate moment end your relationship?
In these situations, you have a track record. People will forgive you. They know that you’ll (likely) recover and improve performance again.
The lady on the horse? We don’t know each other and I’ll never see her again.
So how could I have avoided the handwave?
I need to be the best or better version of myself all the time.
God what PRESSURE!
No room for error, always feeling like you’re being watched.
What does this remind you of?
I imagine this is a little taste of what it’s like to be famous.
You’re tired, and worried about something. You let your guard down and find someone taking a picture of you scratching your bum (with your clothes on you naughty so-and-so).
And you freak out. You’re good all the time and then, one time, your mind wanders and you’re in the papers being shamed. How bloody unfair is that?!
At least with the lady on the horse, I could cool down and get on with my day. I’ve reflected on it and can take some comfort from how I usually act.
If I were the next gossip headline, it wouldn’t be so easy.
So leave me out of the spotlight for as long as you can please!