TamiHow Making Your Partner Look Good Saved Us
Two, almost three years ago my son started to take improv classes. This was the start of a huge change in the way we communicated with each other.
As I sat there watching him learn how to mold his comedic talent, I realized that the rules of improv are really rules on how we should live our lives.
On February 1, 2012 – My son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). I am not sure what you may know about T1D, but it is an autoimmune disorder that affects the pancreas and stops it from producing insulin. DAMN! That sucks! Our first year living with this chronic condition that has no cure, SUCKED! There is no way around it.
My son was ANGRY and I was AFRAID! How are we going to manage this new lifestyle? How will I be able to make dinner that is not in a box with the carb count already on it? What if I am not at home and he doesn’t answer the phone? Will I accidentally hurt him or worse yet make him die? Those were the things that I was afraid of, the things that kept me up at night and fearful!
I don’t want to inject myself with insulin 4 – 8 times a day! I don’t want a medical device attached to my body 24 hours 7 days a week! I don’t want to feel like shit! I want to eat without doing complicated math! I want to eat without injecting myself with this foreign substance! These were the things that he was pissed about, that kept him up at night and throwing dishes!
When he started to take improv, I sat on the sidelines and watched him. We learned the rules that guide the interactions of the artists on stage. One of the first rules you learn is to: Make Your Partner Look Good. You learn that the best improv artists are not the ones who are calculating what their next funny line is, they are delivering gifts that their partner can work with. This is making them look good.
What I learned slowly for sure, is that I was not making my Partner (My Son) look good. I was hyper focused on his blood sugar numbers, how many times he was taking his blood sugar and withholding certain foods that I felt he should not eat. I would yell at him and roll my eyes at him when I felt he was not doing everything that he needed to do to stay healthy. I talked about diabetes all the time with anyone and my goal was to educate anyone that said something negative or naive about Type 1 Diabetes. All I thought about was me. Every action was not about making him look good.
UGH! I SUCK AS A MOM!!!!
So, I stopped all the restrictions. He could eat whatever he wanted, he just had to do what he needed to do to manage his numbers. I made sure to take the morning blood sugar, after that he was responsible for taking them the rest of the day and I would not sneak his meter to read the numbers unless I asked him. I let him make the decisions on pump or injections. And I stopped educating EVERYONE on diabetes. I stopped yelling at the people who got it wrong and when someone asked about it I let him make the decisions as to educate or not educate.
I worked hard to make him look good, when I focused on him, things began to change. No more broken dishes, no more yelling. Guess what his management improved, because I made him look good by trusting him. We learned how to talk to each other, how to make each other look good.
So I challenge you to step out of fear or anger and look at how making the person you love the hero, how can you make them look good?
If there is one thing you need to know about me, it is my inability to be tech savvy. I frequently hand my phone over to my 9-year-old to fix my settings or notifications. I can be seen sliding my desktop over to my 15-year-old daughter when I cannot figure out how to download an attachment or open a document from an email. For lack of a dissertation, I am a complete virgin to the technology world.
My business partner, however, is a mad genius in this realm. She uses applications and programs and spreadsheets, just to name a few, to keep up with all the technology requirements we have for our company. I guess in some ways, I am the clown of the operation… just keeping her laughing to establish my worth and she is definitely the brains.BELOW - Tami and I at a conference. There she is with her computer, always at the ready to be techy!
With all this being said, I recently tried to be “techy” and show her what I could do on my own. I was determined to get multiple emails out to contacts and drum up interest for an upcoming event we were hosting. Needless to say, it was a lot of “copy” and “paste” work, but I felt I had it down and was proving my value to the organization.
All was going well and I was on a role. “I can do this!” I thought to myself… “I just need to focus, nothing to it!”
Later that afternoon after all of my fabulous emails were sent and I was out running errands with my kids, my business partner phoned to give me an update on the attendance to our event. “So, I see that you did some copy-and- paste to the contacts today….” she asked.
“Ya, lots of emails went out, I think we will have a great turnout!” I replied.
She proceeded, “You try so hard and I appreciate all of your work today… I had to reply to our contact David as he got back to us. Apparently, in the email you sent him, you called him Laura and he was a little confused.”
“I did what?” I asked.
“Well, I think with all the copy- and- pasting you may have copied another person’s name into his email, but don’t worry, it’s all taken care of…” she continued.
“Oh my God,” I replied, “did I offend him?” I asked.
“I took care of it” she replied. “ I just told him that I was texting a friend of mine by the name of Laura at the same time I was sending emails and I must have had my wires crossed. He laughed and is actually attending!”
“So YOU took the blame?” I asked, embarrassed at the stupid rookie mistake I had made.
“Not a problem, it’s all good. It’s actually funny. By the way, great work today.” She wasn’t being sarcastic or snide or even rude. She meant what she said about my doing a good job. She knows how hard the techy stuff is for me and she acknowledged my efforts.
What she could have done was blame me when she talked to David. She could have easily thrown me under the bus and not taken the blame when it was clearly my mistake. She could have chosen to put me in a place of shame so that I would be more cautious next time I tried to go out on a limb and work outside of my own wheelhouse.
Instead, she took the route of making her partner look good. She took me out of the equation totally, took responsibility that she really did not need to take and rectified the issue without pointing any fingers in the process.
For the remainder of the week following, whenever we referred to David she called him “Laura- David” as a joke to keep me out of shame. She works tirelessly to make me look good, even at the expense of her own reputation. She puts herself in a place of vulnerability in order to make me LOOK GOOD every day.
She is a true hero, a true partner and a tech savvy savant to be reckoned with
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