We’ve been talking about focus this month. It got me thinking about how and why we focus on certain things. There are areas where we are deliberate, methodical even and others where our focus on one thing makes us miss something else. It’s why I like the idea of having a word for a month, it’s a mechanism for revealing stuff we might otherwise wholly gloss over.
The last year or so we have talked a lot more about a process. Before we kick off a project, we gather background information and relevant context to make sure everyone understands the objective, budget, and timeline. We talk to the client to get a sense of their attitude and how to best arrange the team and process. When we get a quote on a print job we take into account paper stock, extras, pricing, and timing. The same attention to detail happens in the hiring process—what are this person’s strengths, how will they integrate into the current workflow, will they create new opportunities, and can we offer them something meaningful.
These are all great things to do, but something stopped me in my tracks about a month ago. I was walking to my computer, and I passed Staci’s desk. It’s beside a huge window, the sill of which is lined with photos of her family. Her desk always has some sort of snack. On this day, there was an avocado which reminded me of how during Staci’s pregnancy she sat next to Allison, who signed up for emails describing the approximate size of the baby on a weekly basis. One week he was the size of an avocado.
Her chair was empty as she leaned over a proof on the work table with a junior designer. I could hear her characteristically thoughtful feedback on the layout and the way she presents a balance of constructive criticism and praise. Her son Kaiser, who just turned one, was sitting in his stroller flirting with two or three Tramps.
I am guilty of not always remembering just how much Staci has going on, or John, or Megan, or Oliver. I looked at the bottle on her desk, the datebook open with a girls’ night scheduled as well as a chiropractor appointment. These things were alongside ad layouts with notes and her computer screen open to an InDesign file brought into focus how much each person has influencing their perspective. It’s easy to get distracted by the client, the work, and the push to get things done. Nothing happens without the person.
The holidays, in particular, can be a time when each day carries the weight of family obligations, poignant memories, and extra to-dos. I can appreciate the idea that personal issues aren’t for the workplace, but in so many ways we can’t separate a person and the rest of their life.
I am grateful for the way that the people coming into Trampoline each day are unafraid to reveal their entire selves—dysfunction, delight, and massive distractions. When we are able to focus on lifting one another up, whether it’s creating a lactation room or giving advice on how to contest a traffic infraction, it strengthens our team and our process.
We’re planning a lunchtime visit to Mik and Milo, Friday we’ll be brewing a custom beer with Staci’s husband guiding us along with our friends at Mean Max, and on Fridays, we’ve started a tradition of walking down the block to take aerial yoga classes over the lunch hour. The work is essential, but it’s nothing without the people.