The Gift of Annoyances

Over the past week, I’ve had two occasions to deliver my program DO Sweat the Small Stuff (it will save you in the end). As a result, I’ve been giving a good deal of thought to the petty annoyances that can ruin a day if we let them.

It occurs to me that the things that drive us crazy can provide clues as to what would make us really happy.

Caroline is in her mid-50’s and depressed. Aside from any medical issues into which she is checking, there is the immediate issue of what’s deeply bothering her. Look in her house and you see chaos. There are papers stacked up, waiting to be organized. There is laundry piled near the washer/dryer. Every surface in the bedroom and bathroom is covered with “stuff” – newspapers & magazines, hair curlers, mail, unopened & opened. This would not be a problem for some people. There are many who can live happily within this environment (her husband is one of them). These happy rebels proudly display placards on the walls above their desks proclaiming, “A clean desk is a sign of a sick mind.”

Caroline is not one of those people. This deeply troubles her. As we worked together, what surfaced is her inability to live with “good enough.” If she tackles a project, it needs to be done “the right way” and thoroughly or she gives up. When I suggested to Caroline that order is a strong value for her, she looked at me as if I may have lost my mind. I asked her to think about it. She soon came to understand that, if order was NOT a strong value for her, the chaos and incompletion around her wouldn’t disturb her peace of mind as it does now.

I suggested that one of her undiscovered talents might be organization – putting things in order. One place to look for talent is in areas that give you deep pleasure and satisfaction. The more order Caroline puts into her environment, the more pleasure and satisfaction she feels.

When Caroline quit her job due to stress, her boss lost an employee with an exceptional work ethic and attitude (Caroline received several service awards) because he didn’t know about her undiscovered talent. What her boss DID know was that she couldn’t handle the stress of doing work that was “good enough” or rushed. Had her employer been able to recognize Caroline’s latent passion for order, he might have been able to find a way for her organize the chaos within his organization and ultimately have it run more smoothly.

Caroline is someone who believes in “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Today she is working with a therapist to let go of some of her perfectionism while seeking employment in a field where it is highly valued and necessary – records administration.

What are the things that drive you crazy and is it possible that they provide clues to your hidden talents?

When I first started my business, I couldn’t afford to hire a graphic designer to design a logo or lay out my marketing materials. It was simply not in the budget. (Budget? What budget?) I spent days struggling with MS-Word to lay out my materials in a way that would not look “homemade.” I now understand that the knots in my stomach were an indication of how important this was to me. I would regularly decide I was too stupid to “get it” (not a productive use of the Law of Attraction, I know). I had two choices – give up or conquer this thing.

Today I am able do wonderful layouts. What used to take me 3 days, I now easily do within 3 hours. It’s a thrill for me every time because it’s a hidden talent discovered late. I also know my limitations and hire a graphic designer whenever I have a marketing piece that needs that ultra-professional touch. But I’m not at the mercy of it; I know I can always do it myself.

On the other hand, having a beautifully designed logo was not important to me. I did online research and discovered that one person whom I greatly admire was using his signature as a logo. I followed in his footsteps and it’s worked out beautifully.

So start paying attention to the annoyances in your life. There may be treasures underneath them – gifts deceptively packaged but well worth opening.

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