This isn’t a new thought for me but it is one that has recently been reinforced. I’ve noticed that there is a certain special energy around people when they are doing their job and doing it well. Since my work is quite solitary lately, I’ve been missing working with people who are confident and happy doing what they do best.
Not that everyone likes what they do, or does it well; I’m talking about the people who are fortunate enough to have made the choices that led them to a place of ease and competence, or who were graced with the opportunities to do so.
There used to be a feeling of balance and mutual recognition of competence when I was working side-by-side with someone who knew they were good at what they were doing. It was a confidence that came from years of practice and development of their skill or craft. They didn’t feel they had to cover their ass, second guess or pose. You might call it being comfortable in their own professional skin.
Knowing someone outside of their job is to know a different side of them, although there are some few people who are pretty much themselves no matter where you encounter them. But I’ve noticed that there are many people who don’t ‘talk shop’ with people who aren’t in their field – because it might bore the other person or because it would require the other person have too high a level of background and experience before they understand what they are talking about. And besides, listening to the person talking shop is different from observing them when they are doing what they do well.
That’s where it’s special to have the opportunity to be around someone where I can appreciate their talent and skill directly. I guess I get a kick out of watching people shine. The other day I was describing a situation to a friend that exemplifies this point, albeit in an unexpected way.
I was conned by a guy who was volunteering to help people at the ticket machines by the sea-bus terminal in downtown Vancouver. I hadn’t used the machines before and I was struggling with figuring out how to get the paper money into the machine. (You have to get the Queen’s head around the right way!) He was wearing a jacket the same colour as the transit employees and came up behind me. I was distracted and at first glance he seemed to be someone from the transit authority. He helped me get my ticket and then took it out of the machine and put it in my hand. Then he asked me if I could spare some change.
You know, I had a grudging respect for his skill at the con. It was so smooth and he was so pleasant, and SOOO good at what he was doing, that I gave him my change. I knew I’d been manipulated and he knew I knew, but he was the most professional con man I’d encountered in years. It was almost a pleasure to be conned.
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