Obstacles and noticing

September 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

My drive from our home to Mozilla’s San Francisco office takes about 15 minutes. As I got in the car I had 23 minutes to make the commute and arrive on time for my first meeting of the day. Time enough for the commute, to grab a cup of coffee and for a quick round of “good morning” greetings. And then obstacles started popping up. The first one was the humdinger.

I’m in the garage preparing to back up when, out of the rear view mirror a dog (a BIG dog) and its petite owner appear. It’s really clear my car is backing up toward the sidewalk. And the dog (did I mention it was a BIG dog) decides this is the time and the place to take care of its morning constitution. Really. The owner can see I am backing out. Couldn’t she tug the dog (the BIG dog) a bit forward out of the driveway so the dog can take a leisurely dump and let me get on my way? Nope. They pause, smack in the middle of the opening and begin to take care of business. Tick-tick, tock-tock. Scratch the morning cup of coffee and pleasantries. I am agitated and annoyed.

And then, I saw her. I started to take notice. Of what was happening, not for me, but for the owner of the dog.

She looked panic. The dog had one point of need and I had another. She was stuck between the two. She did try to move the dog, but he was pretty committed to his task. I was in the car, engine revving, evil-eye beaming through the rear-view mirror.  She looked at me. She looked at the dog. And then she did something I would NEVER do. She moved into a catch position to expedite the clean-up responsibilities of urban dog ownership. I couldn’t watch; the mere idea of what she was doing to speed the situation along was causing my gag reflex to kick in (it was a BIG dog).  She was doing her best in a tough spot.

I became less agitated. Breathed. And began to notice what was happening for me.

Obstacles happen. In my every day life and in my work life. By their nature, obstacles are inconvenient and most often out of my control.  When they happen I get to decided where I put my attention and focus. I get to choose how I let an obstacle effect me, and by extension, how it effects others. I get to choose.

I’m curious where you notice people stuck in the agitation and annoyance that obstacles inevitability cause. Were are our leverage points to help others expand their range of responses.


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