Wednesday, July 27, 2005

My Brain on My Other Sleeve

Tom and Margaret don't see my feelings on my sleeve. Tom says I speak in sound bytes. Margaret says I'm a tough negotiator. They are right about what they see. But they are not right about what they don't see.

I'm lucky. My brain, when I keep it well oiled, is like a Duisenberg--old, but it can out run most other guys on the road. I so enjoy the opportunity to use my brain---to stretch--and it happens so seldom that I pounce on the chance to answer any question without thinking about where I am. It's as if my brain sees life as a game show and needs to buzz in. That's not how I see the world nor how I want the world to see me. I think that life is about more than winning.

People tell me not to be so clever. What they're really saying is that they don't know what to do with me. I don't know what to do with them either. I ask questions they're not interested in. I point out elephants in the room that they can't see. At the very least, could I take my brain off my sleeve?

" . . . and while I'm at it, if I could make myself a couple of inches shorter that would be great too!"

I worked on the problem. I taught myself to wait for people to ask for my opinion. I did. They did. It helped . . . a little. Yet, even when I didn't say a word, I was still that smart person sitting in the room.

Luke says that some folks worry that I can expose them for what they don't know. I say I've got to get better at letting them know I have no need to do that.

Now and then I get to meet with folks like Luke, Margaret, Tom, or McCartney. They ask the same questions I do. They don't notice my brain on my sleeve because they have their own in the same place. We talk out loud about the elephants in the room. We say ludicrous things like, "That's the seventh time you said the word iteration in the last hour." I feel lighter after my brain has been out to run races with them.

People still tell me not to wear my brain on my sleeve. I let them know that I think they're smart--and tell stories of stupid things I've done--I shouldn't have to do that. It's like apologizing for my brain, but it seems to help.

Maybe if I put my hands on my head and lean back during meetings, people will forget what's on my sleeves.

——me strauss Letting me be

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