you have something in your teeth
The other night during the second Our Shared Meal, my friend asked a great question.
If you were on a first date and you saw that your date had something stuck in their teeth, would you say something?
I don't recall the answers being unanimous one way or the other, and I think they were actually pretty divided. Someone floated the idea that maybe the first date was too soon to call attention to something that would embarrass the other individual. No, they would be too embarrassed to say anything. No, probably not on the first date, but the second date it would feel more appropriate. You could potentially just let the piece of food slide if you didn't want to see the person again.
Then there was the reminder that if you were them, you wouldn't want to find out hours later. Saying something (or not) would potentially indicate what sort of relationship it could or would be.
Without much thorough thought, my immediate answer was yes - for entirely different reasons. We have all been there, and it's pretty easy to relive that - "GAH, how long has that been there?" moment. And then that feeling of scanning through every person you encountered, wracking your brain wondering if they saw the thing in your teeth, driving yourself crazy until you just give up with exhaustion.
So to prevent others from going through that torment that we all know so well, I'd rather just jump into the potentially awkward situation now to do what I can to divert that future for this individual.
The sentiment stems from the same desire to focus on myself less, and take a few steps back and view myself just as one part the larger ecosystem. Experiencing one more potentially very awkward moment doesn't seem like a big deal if it helps someone else and the overall energy of what we call life.
Hearing the different reasons why someone would or would not say something reminded me of this talk by Seth Godin, who talks about the idea of how "responsibility is taken, not given."
The idea is that there are different types of people. Those who sit back and will not do things, even if they are asked. Those who will silently sit there, and will only do things when explicitly asked. Then there are those who will volunteer to do what you say needs to be done. And then lastly, there are those who don't need to be told what to do, but see a need and will just do it.
There is nothing wrong with any of the approaches; everyone has their own reason for doing things and potentially have their own agenda. However, given some of the things that I'm going through at the moment, I'm trying make deliberate changes to how I live and approach situations. Be less passive about the things that I'm unhappy with or struggling with, and take action. Take ownership. Do things so that there is the potential for something better.
I was talking to an engineer today about how the problems we were encountering were due to engineers not taking enough accountability for their work and projects. In the workplace, that's a problem. How do you get more people to take more responsibility? Incentives? Leadership? Inspiration? How do you motivate people to do more.
How do you motivate yourself to do more, and more importantly - do more of the right things?
I took a mandatory "Unconscious Bias" course a few months ago, where we put ourselves in situations so we could practice speaking up on behalf of someone being a victim of (gender, sex, race, etc.) bias. Out of the group of ten, I was the first person to say something and it was significantly harder to do than I had anticipated. I was surprised, nervous, and then later disappointed. Disappointed that it took me longer than I wanted to take action.
For the most part, life is just practice right? I like to think of LIFE as just a bunch of organisms just bouncing around and bumping into one another. If something doesn't work the way you want it to, another opportunity will always present itself - if you're open to it. We're always learning and growing as individuals, and therefore as a society.
So let's practice taking more risks that we're too scared to take - with the intention of doing the right thing and helping others. And inspire others to try to do the same.