Always bring your “A” Game. Know when to be the “Minus.”
What the hell does this mean? Who wants to be a Minus? Doesn’t everyone want to be a plus?
And sometimes it is important, even necessary, to be the Minus. Let me explain.
First, I think it is important to make clear that “A Game” individuals and “Type A” individuals have characteristics that overlap…extensively. Both are generally known to be knowledgeable, organized and prepared. Type A’s are also known to be direct, unyielding and curt. A Game individuals are, arguably, a bit less rigid. Sometimes, they are charming, accommodating and pleasant. Other times, they cannot be differentiated from the Type A group.
Looking more closely at those who bring their A Game, in addition to being knowledgeable, organized and prepared, these folks also possess the following traits:
Yes, an overarching confidence is woven through all of these traits, and no, these folks are never described as wilting violets. With all of the above noted, it is understandable why “A Game” individuals are highly sought.
Taking all of this into account, why would anyone want to be a Minus? To that very good question, I have the following answer: when a person embraces his or her Minus, he or she practices the aforementioned skills by merging strengths with knowledge and wisdom. To be more specific, a Minus routinely operates by doing the following:
1. Never needing to be the center of attention.
Understanding that the goal is not to be on stage, but to close the deal, or complete the task, is understood by the Minus. Removing him or herself from the equation will always occur to achieve the goal.
2. Listening to everything.
They listen to what everyone says, no matter that person’s level of experience. Much can be learned about another, or about a situation, simply by listening.
3. Knowing when not to speak.
They have learned that it is incredibly important to know when not to speak.
4. Communicating with respect, professionalism and knowledge.
The Minus can deal with unreasonable people in a professional and respectful manner. They are always careful when they communicate, and will admit if they do not have the answer.
5. Are acquainted with every detail.
The devil is in the details, a fact Minuses have usually learned the hard way. It follows that the details can change how a situation is handled, and how it is resolved.
6. During negotiations, they are persistent and patient, but not pushy.
Minuses know when to push an issue, when to keep pressure on an issue, and how to relay that issue without pounding it to death.
7. Never sidestep the hard conversations.
However difficult, they never shirk this responsibility.
8. Will take responsibility for their own actions and the actions taken by those who work for them.
Minuses understand that they are the leaders, so all mistakes fall to them. Taking responsibility is never in question. However, they never play the role of martyr.
9. Ethics and morals are never traded.
To the Minus, these are not tradable commodities. They will not trade their moral or ethical compass to close a deal or win a case.
Overall, the distinction between the “Type A” and the “A Minus” is, arguably, temperament. The Minus has all the Type A skills, and the temperament to lead and/or close a deal without needing to be in the spotlight.
So, embrace your Minus. It is your greatest asset.
Many years ago, before marriage and motherhood, I lived in an old building on 71stStreet in Manhattan. It was a walk up. I lived on the third floor. My forever friend lived on the first floor, which is how I got into the building. Our other forever friend moved in on the fourth floor. As the building had only eight apartments, it felt a bit like a continual episode of Friends for the two years we lived together. Having met in kindergarten, by the time we graduated from high school, we had shared many secrets, spent hours laughing and crying, had more inside jokes than I can count. To then get a chance to live in the same building when we were single and in our early 30’s was a blessing.
“Peach” (fourth floor) and I moved into the building in the fall of 2003. That December, we had a Christmas party across the three apartments. We invited all our neighbors and our friends. When my parents arrived, my mom gave me funny Christmas hand towels to share with Peach and “LD”. Lois (my mom) had a great sense of humor, as you can see from the messages here.
This weekend, I got my act together and transitioned the house from Thanksgiving to Christmas (no judgment … I realize I am a bit behind the curve this year). When I found the hand towels, I smiled. So many good memories are triggered each time I look at these. I can see my mom’s face as she handed these towels to me, her wry smile abundantly evident. I remember Peach making her famous hotdogs in ketchup for the party, and having a full pot of the same on the stove at the end of the night. I remember getting LD’s Christmas tree in the door shortly prior to the party, using our “tree gloves.” I remember the snow storm that almost caused us to cancel the party.
Peach moved out in 2005 after she got engaged. LD and I remained in the building for many more years, eventually moving on after we both married. My mom died in 2008. Peach died of breast cancer in 2018.
We cannot stop time. We cannot stop change. What we can do is enjoy the moment, because every moment will become a memory. Many of those moments will become memories you treasure. This is the true gift of Christmas. As time passes, it isn’t the physical gifts you’ll remember. Rather, it will be the laughter you shared, the people who showed up, the way you felt that will remain with you.
The other night, as I was sitting on my part of the couch, my husband slid in on my right, and then the kid slipped in on my left. My portion of the couch has the footstool, so these two often vie to take my spot. Because I was already there, they had to “share” with me. So much for personal space.
We sat there for a while, quietly watching Rise of the Guardians, one of those lovely family movies we missed the first time around. In it, the Guardians must conquer the Boogie Man by helping children overcome fear. Using the magic of the holidays, wonderful dreams, delightful memories and the fun of childhood, the Guardians help restore hope in children's minds and hearts. As the snowballs fly, fear dissolves, leaving the Boogie Man weak and powerless.
Good triumphs over evil. Again. Phew.
Alright. I realize nothing in life is this simple. So, why do I bring this movie up? Because, woven into each one of these movies is a ribbon of truth. What is the ribbon here? Mythical and magical creatures are not the only ones who can hold the role of Guardian. You can as well. You can be the Guardian of your family, the Guardian of your relationships with friends and loved ones. You can be the Guardian of those whom you mentor, those who come behind you and need your guidance. You have the ability to channel hope and faith, to bring and restore magic, to remind others what good things have happened, and those that are yet to come. Positive energy sprinkled with a little bit of fun. It can work wonders.
Truthfully, it isn’t an easy task, but it is a worthy task.
It follows that when we need a Guardian, one is there to help. What you need the most in that moment will likely be provided. Perhaps it is comfort and guidance. Perhaps it is a laugh-out-loud joke that leaves you out of breath and with a stomach ache. Perhaps it is unfettered direction. No matter what is provided, you need simply to recognize the help being offered, and to be open to the assistance.
If you feel you can, take that step and be a Guardian for others. In the same vain, you have earned the protection of Guardians. If you need one, let that person in.
Be a Guardian mentor. Find a Guardian mentor. In both roles, you will grow, and you might even have a little fun.
Do you want to build a snowman?