Going Crooked

If you can’t go straight, go crooked. ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

One of my favorite books is Roxanna Robinson’s biography of Georgia O’Keeffe. In it she quotes one of O’Keeffe’s letters about a drive from New York to New Mexico, and how her usual route featured a lot of road closures due to storm damage and new construction. Instead of giving up or bemoaning the fact that her trip was filled with frustrating detours, she kept her eye on the prize and simply noted, “If you can’t go straight, go crooked.”

Whenever I am faced with a roadblock that is in the way of something I want, I think about her advice. She never let a washed out bridge keep her from her goal; O’Keeffe would find a way around the problem.

I am really great at anticipating the worst-case scenario in any situation that arises. I just received an email from a client with some great feedback about a project. It began with, “Overall it all looks good. Here are a few changes.” The first time I read it, I don’t think I saw the “Overall” beginning. I just went to the changes part and thought they hated what I did. I immediately started worrying that they don’t like any of my work or my ideas or, worst of all, don’t like me! Then I start thinking that I won’t get any more work ever again, will have to sell my house and sleep on the couches of friends and family for the rest of my life (by the way, this is the nightmare for my friends and family, too).

Once the moment of panic passes, and I begin to realize that my worst-case scenario is pretty unlikely to come to pass, I can look at the email and see what I missed. They still want me to get to the destination; they just want me to take a little detour. Well, I can go crooked and still get there.