Oh yes! Don’t you love it when these gems are said or read and leap out into your brain and being? I heard this just a few days ago when a recruiting manager with a consulting firm I’ve been interviewing with pretty rigorously called me yesterday to tell me I hadn’t been picked for a particular job, even though I was a strong finalist and had gone through a few interview loops. What can I say – it wasn’t meant to be! The consulting firm team has been top notch throughout so it almost makes a ‘rejection’ like this a bit more bearable. That’s when I told the manager that while I’m a little bummed understandably, “everyone’s been fantastic.” And hence his response!! I could have burst through the phone lines and hugged him right then and there.

I’m on the lookout for excellence big time. And I’ve been through a fair amount of life to know when it’s there and when it’s not whether in office work, restaurants, gas stations, cleaners, you name it. A grunt from a cashier instead of “you’re welcome” after I say thanks? Give me a fucking break.

You know, the one area I’ve been especially impressed with recently has been the whole area around Bellevue Place and Lincoln Square. I can’t put my finger on it but the whole vibe in those city blocks just drips of excellence and precision. People seem jazzed, upbeat and enthusiastic, whether it’s a worker in the parking garage, the barista at the Tully’s I love to frequent, the doorman at the hotel who greets me with a smile and tip of his hat if I happen to pass through that way or the receptionists at the shared office space area I’m working with pro bono with a few other colleagues. The receptionists there are friendly, courteous, helpful and uber professional. What a difference! Ever walk into an office and find the person at the front desk smacking on gum, gossiping or even worse – you get a glimpse of their computer screen and they’re playing solitaire? I’m sorry but that is all kinds of WRONG. First impressions, anyone? Yeah, I was a receptionist over 20 years ago and perhaps I’m old school but solitaire on a computer screen where clients can see that just speaks volumes that people at that company don’t have enough work to do.

I’m very aware of rhythms and vibes of life around me whether it’s in work settings, people’s houses, even different cities or parts of cities. Now please, don’t get all freaked out or weirded out, people. I don’t see people’s ghosts or auras or anything like that. I’m not psychic or clairvoyant. It’s just part of my ‘feeling’ instinct I’ve talked about in here before and have learned to listen to it more as I’ve gotten older. When I was younger I tended to dismiss it as it wasn’t anything practical or rational that I knew how to explain to others. Now that I’m older and ‘know’ myself better I can freely listen to whatever this ‘thing’ is and pay attention.

I can walk into an office building and immediately sense whether or not I feel comfortable. I’ve gone on job interviews in years past where I just ‘knew’ I was going to get the job even though I still had a ways to go in the process. This group I interviewed with a few times who I mentioned at the top of this post? I sensed the excellence walking through the front door before I even started shaking hands. I’ve walked into buildings where the mood seemed somber, saggy and lethargic. And, frankly, that’s how the people behaved too.

When I was looking around at colleges my senior year of high school I ‘knew’ the minute I stepped foot on one particular campus that that was where I’d end up going (and, did). And I hadn’t even gone through the application procedures! In contrast, I remember reading about a different university that seemed absolutely ideal in so many ways. Yet the minute I arrived for a visit? Ummm, no thanks. Stuffy, stodgy and so many people kept pronouncing my name incorrectly!! Even after I’d correct them! Trust me, my first name is not super common, but I’d bet most people have heard of it at one time or another. So, no excuses. Sloppy.

Same thing with my townhouse. I thought the flyer sucked and it seemed very unappealing. Yet I stepped inside and presto – this was gonna be home for awhile! And, it still is.

Let’s go deeper: kids. As in the choice to have them or not. When I was about 12 or 13 I remember saying outloud, “I don’t want to have kids.” Not sure if this was to my friends or my Mom but it came out. Even though I was a young teen at the time there was some ‘adult’ part of me that said hey, just wait, you’re still young…you’ve got time. I grew up with two siblings quite a few years younger than I am so I ended up being the built-in babysitter. Sure, they’re my siblings and I love them more than anything, but when you are 12 or 13 and puberty’s in full swing NOTHING is right with the world. And family is just all kinds of annoying!

However, I have known deep down that I would never be a parent. A stepparent, possibly, but not kids of my own. I LOVE kids. I love holding babies. I adore my nephews and niece. I just don’t want kids of my own.

Oh dang does that ever fly in the face of what’s expected of women or what? And counter to what 99.99% of the population does – have kids! And I have to say I would even question this to myself as well…am I not realizing my full self as a woman if I choose not to give birth? How many times have I been asked, “…but don’t you want to have kids someday?” I heard that more in my 20s and 30s. And now that the early 40s are under way I am thankful I’m not getting that OH SHIT I FORGOT TO HAVE KIDS feeling clanging away. Rather, I feel SO GOOD just being able to relax and relish and know my gut ‘knew’ this would be the case about 30 years ago!

So how does this tie in with the “excellence” I was talking about earlier? Well, I don’t necessarily need it to. These are my streams of consciousness so I don’t feel tied down to rules. As long as my thoughts keep flowing and a few people out there tune in to read this stuff then we’re all good. Perhaps the “excellence” part of this is Knowing Yourself and trusting gut instincts. Wisdom that comes with life experience.

And…excellence – NOT perfection. This is a motto that drives me both in my personal and professional life. Have I talked about this before? I can’t remember, but if it’s a duplicate thought it’s worth repeating because it’s taken me years and years to strip out the perfectionist tendencies I somehow got dealt in the gene pool. We’re human. We’re gloriously flawed. We’re not robots. I found that the quest to be “perfect” only gripped my brain with paralysis and procrastination. And I finally feel I’ve learned to reject that grip when it strikes.

Thankfully it doesn’t nearly as much as it used to.

PS: props to the CNSA for this photo – I love it!