Photo by Jake Givens on Unsplash
Written by Lisa Fettner
Several months ago, I realized that I was living my life in a faded beauty shot. Everything I looked at had a warm glow around it, and everything was slightly blurry. Bright sunlight washed everything out and, at night, everything was just black.
Long story short, I had a rare kind of cataracts, but because of the type of contacts I’d worn for 30 years, I had to wait a minimum of three months to have them fixed. The reality is, at one point or another, it’s inevitable that we will experience an event that makes everyday life and work more difficult.
As I reflect back on the experience of living life with marginal vision, there are some valuable lessons from the experience that I think we can all apply to our life and work.
Asking for help is a good thing. We live in a world where being independent is an asset, and many of us feel guilty if we need support. I had to ask for help much more frequently. Whether it was having my coworkers do all of the product demos during NAR, or needing my marketing manager to help design a presentation — asking for help was hard. But I realized that my friends, colleagues, and family members loved helping; it made them feel good and appreciated.
Don’t be afraid to hire experts. Furthermore, technology has made it very easy for us to run our businesses and our lives, and we often feel inadequate if we can’t figure out how to do something successfully. You don’t have to be able to do everything. That’s what experts are for, and it’s often money well spent. I couldn’t create our holiday video on my own this year, so I had our designer do it. The results were much better than I could have done — even if I had been able to see properly.
Listening intently is key to a successful interaction. Since it was hard for me to see visual cues or presentations, I had to listen much harder during a conversation or meeting. I found myself speaking less and listening more to ensure I truly understood what was going on. This hyper-focus helped me identify issues and concerns I probably would have missed had I been simply watching a presentation.
It pays to slow down. Everything takes longer when you can’t see well. I had to plan much further in advance. Extra time was needed to be built into every project since I needed “extra eyes” — and I had to be incredibly prepared for any presentations I gave or panels I moderated because I couldn’t read my notes or see a teleprompter. Being proactive vs. reactive helped projects run much more smoothly and yielded better results. Definitely a lesson to apply in all of my work.
Be truly grateful. I just recently had my first surgery, and even with one bad eye, my eyesight is better than it’s ever been, which is amazing. I’m truly grateful to live in a time when technology and medical advances make it possible for me to have my vision restored with a 30-minute operation. And while I noticed how dirty my kitchen was after the surgery, it was wonderful to be able to “see” my family and friends again – and to read a computer screen without a 175% magnification.
Time passes. When the doctor told me that I’d have to wait several months to get the surgery, it seemed like forever. How would I get through conference season or be productive at work for that long? I took it day-by-day and week-by-week, and told myself that eventually my hazy world would be a distant memory.
No matter what we do, we’re going to experience challenges in our life and career. The important thing to remember is, sometimes you have to adapt and lean on your “squad” — and that’s a good thing. I’m almost at the end of my journey — time did pass and I did survive — and I’m a better person, manager, and colleague for my experience.
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