Sparkler? I Barely Know Her!
I held a sparkler for the first time this past weekend. I also burned a woman.
My dear friends Danny and Danae got married and it was one of those outdoor, almost-hipster weddings. (There was too much John Mayer being played for it to be truly hipster.) At the end of the night, to send them off to their honeymoon, all a hundred or so of us formed two long lines for them to run through. We were each given a sparkler and within ten minutes the two rows were illuminated with flashing lights.
Danny and Danae ran through the crowd with great enthusiasm as we cheered them on. A magical moment I'm sure they forgot almost immediately as they anticipated the rest of their evening....
After the excitement, the woman who owned the property called out for us to put our sparklers in the buckets of water she had placed along the path and we all jumped in to do so. As I made my way to the bucket, however, she picked it up and began to move it off the path so people can walk without tripping over it.
As she carried the bucket, I thought to myself, "I can make it." So I walked over and attempted to put my sparkler in the bucket.
It was dark out so I missed my initial try. The woman tried to holler out, "Wait, till I..."
But I was too determined to get rid of my sparkler. So I tried again.
This time I singed her hand.
"I'm so sorry!" I exclaimed.
She let out an expletive as she put the bucket down. I apologized as I backed away like Homer Simpson into a bush, motioning to my friends, "Let's go, let's go, let's go..."
"I just burned a woman."
It was only a slight burn like if you bumped your hand against a hot cookie tray. At least, that's what I'm telling myself.
But it did make me think. "Why in the world didn't I just let her put the bucket down?"
In the moment, it was like she was just holding a garbage can. And not wanting to waste any time, I wanted to throw my garbage out as soon as possible. Garbage typically isn't on fire though.
I think that can happen when we are really goal-oriented. We can ignore the obvious things in front of us that can hurt people.
Sometimes I am so quick to try to get my way that when it doesn't happen I just react poorly. Or, like in this case, I keep moving forward without taking a moment to think things through.
As I anticipate building this company, it is definitely something I try to keep in mind as often as I can. How will the things I do now affect people in the future?
Now that question can easily get out of hand. You can't possibly predict to the fullest extent how your actions will affect people. It could get pretty unhealthy. Not only that, but it is generally impossible to know completely, especially as the amount people you influence increases.
But you can at least take a breath, seek some social awareness, and wait until the bucket is back on the ground before following through with your actions.
So here's to just waiting a moment, thinking things through, and the next wedding I'm in being on a yacht.