About a month ago, I decided to make a more concerted effort to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Historically, fresh fruits and vegetables have been woefully underrepresented in in my kitchen (they have an annoying habit of ripening when I’m not home, and I have an annoying habit of forgetting about them until they’re WAY past edible), but I decided it was high time we changed that. So I headed off to the store, list in hand, and came back with a veritable menagerie of produce.
I was proudly embracing Day 3 of my newfound relationship with produce when I decided to check on the peaches in the fruit bowl on my counter. To my surprise, the peaches were just as unripened as they were when I bought them. While they would have made fantastic projectiles to hurl at someone in the event of a home invasion, they were definitely in no condition to eat. Nonetheless, I assumed they were late bloomers, and left them in the fruit bowl to do their thing.
Two days later (Day 5, for those of you who are now getting emotionally invested in this tale), I checked in with them again. Still no progress. After a couple of Google searches, I lovingly tucked them into a brown paper grocery bag, willing them to ripen as peaches are supposed to do.
Fast forward to Day 7. At this point, it was clear that both parties had entered into a standoff. I was steadfast in my resolve to see the peaches ripen in accordance with my expectations. After all, I had taken the time to sort through the peach bin at the store and pick the 5-6 I thought looked the best. I put them in a nice fruit bowl to ripen. When that didn’t work, I then put them into a paper bag to create a better environment for them ripen. I had gone above and beyond to do what I could to help them do what I wanted them to do.
Notwithstanding my efforts, the peaches appeared to be just steadfast in their desire to remain impenetrable fruit-shaped rocks. They remained unphased by the brown paper bag, and seemed to be content hanging out on my counter without ripening. Things eventually reached a point where every time I passed the bowl I’d let out a disgusted sigh, as if guilting them into ripening was going to be productive.
By Day 8, it had become a matter of honor. I decided to cut into one of the peaches to see if it was anything close to edible because at that point I was determined – hell or high water – to make use of them. At that moment, I realized that my desire to “be right” about these peaches’ ability to live up to my expectations would not have resulted in the outcome I actually wanted – instead, it would have resulted in my stirring a disgusting, crunchy peach into Greek yogurt and choking it down to prove a point.
So, why am I telling you any of this?
Because sometimes “being right” just ain’t worth it.
Here’s the thing: If you are a high-achieving Type A person (which you clearly are, since you are spending your spare time reading a blog about professional development-related topics), you will be approached with more opportunities than you will be able to accept. In order to determine which opportunities are worth pursuing, you’ll likely do as much due diligence as possible, agonize over the pros and cons of each opportunity, and eventually select what you believe to be the best opportunities based on the information available to you. And, most likely, at least of one the opportunities you select will not develop as you hoped it would.
Since you are a diligent, Type A soul, your immediate reaction will be to try doing anything in your power to make that opportunity into what you had hoped it would be. If the problem stems from a lack of others’ motivation, you may try pleading, reasoning, yelling, or guilting them into performing at the level you believe they are capable of performing. If the problem stems from a lack of resources, you may run yourself ragged trying to volunteer extra hours or recruit others in your network to donate their time or services. Sometimes these efforts will be effective. Other times, these efforts will be as futile. How futile? As futile as a grown woman trying to guilt a bowl of uncooperative peaches into ripening (translation: really freakin’ futile).
If your high-potential opportunity turns out to be an uncooperative peach, and you’ve tried everything within reason to ripen it, toss it before it causes harm to your health, your sanity, or your career. While chasing the satisfaction of “toughing it out to make a point” may placate your Type A tendencies, ask yourself whether doing so will even get you to the outcome you wanted to achieve. If the best case scenario is the equivalent of choking down disgusting peaches to placate your ego, discard it and move on.