Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bricks and Flowers

A few months ago, a friend of mine shared that before he retired, he kept a "Bricks and Flowers" file of his professional accomplishments.

I had no idea what a "Bricks and Flowers" file was -- and still don't know if it is a "done" thing in business or if this was his own invention.  Just in case you find yourself in the same boat, a Bricks and Flowers file is where he put the "You did a great job"/"Thanks for your hard work"/ "You're the best!" notes -- those are the Flowers.  He also put the "What were you thinking?!"/"You stink!"/"I'm gonna have you fired!" memos, as well.

The conversation went on after his mention of this file but the thought of it has stuck with me for all these months.  It actually inspired me to start a Bricks and Flowers file of my own.  But here's my problem:

I don't know why he kept the Bricks?  Is it the morbid imperative that urges us to almost run over a fireman while we crane our necks to get a glimpse of an accident?  Is it the same as that undeniable urge that to linger just a second longer than necessary on the Jerry Springer Show as you are flipping through the channels?  Is it part of the same desire to run our tongue over a sensitive tooth to see if it is still hurting (which, of course, it always is)?

Why would anyone keep the bad  stuff?  Just in case you want to relive the bad stuff?  Or is it learn from?

In the case of my friend, I haven't yet remembered to ask him the question.  For myself, I HATE reliving the bad stuff -- reopening wounds that are healed or at least heavily scabbed over.

But... I don't want to have to live those situations out over and over again with different people and in different situations.  Maybe the point of keeping the Bricks is so that I can pull them out every once in a while and see where I have come from.  Perhaps they will give me insight (once the embarrassment and hurt has subsided) that will give me even more perspective down the road.  And certainly, having the Flowers in the same file helps a lot.  Just when I start feeling really crummy at all the negative comments, here are 7 positive comments to ease the pain and provide some balance.

When I am coaching, it is painful to see the client carrying around a huge mental Bricks and Flowers file where there are no Flowers to be seen.  Bricks seems to carry more weight (pardon the pun). 

Give some thought to your BandF file.  --How's it stocked?  Is it balanced?  Are you working on filing away the Flowers as hard as you are working on filing away the Bricks?

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