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Look Before You Leap February 21, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Personal Observations.

I am sitting in my accustomed blog writing location—the Borders cafe down the road from my house. Only problem is the  cafe is not serving coffee– or anything else. The preparation area is dark and empty. My favorite barista, Jessica—the one who knew my order by heart– is nowhere to be found. Why, you ask? Because it was announced this weekend that our Borders store is closing. So they are in the process of selling everything in the store at discount.  The place is packed. As you might imagine, I am not amused.

I almost wrote about the following incident three weeks ago but decided that it was just a rant. Well, now I’ve been able to turn it into an object lesson. Three weeks ago I was sitting in my customary table preparing to write my post for the week. I noticed a man who was seated in front of me with paper and pen—and a couple of cookbooks. During the hour or so I wrote my post, I watched this man studiously copying recipes into his little notebook, not one but at least 5 or 6 (not that I was counting.)

My brother is a writer (and so am I, for that matter) and he has impressed upon me the right that artists of all kinds have to get paid for the work that they do. Therefore, it’s a very good idea to honor copyright laws and other quaint practices designed to ensure that creators get paid for their work. Not to mention that it’s the right thing to do.

I reflected upon this as I watched my fellow customer copy down the recipes and put the books back on the shelf. I also reflected upon the fact that Borders could have used the revenue as they have not been doing well for some time. (In fact, last week they announced Chapter 11.) Now it’s possible that the man in question may not have been able to afford the books though I did notice that he had a state of the smarty phone. It just seems like bad karma to me. Maybe even a bit like stealing. And now the man in question will be unable to sit in Borders’ cafe and copy recipes–and I have to find a new place to write on Sunday morn. (And maybe I’m just being a bit pissy.)

To take this to a broader level, I believe that it’s always a good idea to be aware of the impact of our actions. I realize that we can’t always know that. But sometimes with a little thought we can. In coaching, I often talk to my clients about  an awareness of how we ‘land’ with others. For example, if you are constantly having negative third-party conversations, (sometimes known as character assassinations) about your co-workers, this will have an impact on how well you do in your work relationships. Or, if you always consider only your own agenda without taking into consideration the needs and desires of those around you, you may not be number one on too many people’s hit parade.

Some questions to ask:

  • Is it really that important I have it my way in all situations?
  • Must I be in control of every situation I find myself in? Could I possibly learn something by surrendering and seeing what comes up?
  • When do the needs of others trump my own?
  • Is it possible that my assessments about a situation are not the only useful ones out there? Or might someone else’s assessments have some merit?
  • Is my choice of words appropriate for the situation?

Just sayin’…

As the sign says, “Stop, Look and Listen.”




1. Jane - February 22, 2011

Such sad news about Borders who modeled themselves so well on those few large independent bookstores with amazing inventories. Yes, the impact of small actions multiplied over and over is rather astonishing,,,,and often underrated. Fortunately it works both ways, for the good as well as for the bad.

edgyangel - February 24, 2011

Yes, it is sad news. Went over to BN today to get a book and it felt like I was in the wrong store. However, I agree with you about the impact of our actions. We can do good things with small actions–and thank God for that…

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