My apartment is a mess. My kitchen renovation, delayed since July, is in its final stages, which means that there is currently a large plastic sheet dividing my living room from everything else. My brand new stove sits in the dining area. Pantry items and dishes fill assorted Fresh Direct bags and banker’s boxes on the floor of my workspace. I am again washing dishes in the bathroom sink, eating surrounded by heaps and piles, and keeping an air filter on to limit the dust.

A good friend has graciously allowed me the use of her Upper West Side apartment as my outpost. I want to sleep in my own bed, but also need distance from the construction during the workday for peace of mind. It’s been my daily refuge.

I was planning to head there this morning. At 11:30am I will offer the lead share at a Zoom meeting where the topic is visions. Earlier, I was telling my action partner about my upcoming talk and explained that I would likely travel downtown to my friend’s place so my background would show a neater picture. I was in a quandary about the timing of it all, getting my healthy meals in around this and a later family call.

“Jane, it can be helpful for others to see the mess in the middle on the way to our vision,” she reminded me. “You’ll soon have a magnificent, pristine, custom-designed kitchen.” She is 100% right.

I want to see YOUR mess. But, I’m not keen on showing you mine.

I want things to look better than they appear. I want YOU to believe that –“POOF”– my renovation magically arrived and that it was no bother at all. I’ve learned that 99.99999% of you are not paying attention to my apartment’s interior. Thank goodness. Nor am I paying attention to your current improvements, home or otherwise (with the major exception of my clients!). It’s a myth that others are watching us.

But, I was groomed to show a perfect exterior. Most often, it didn’t match the inner feelings. I looked good, but was not necessarily happy.

Rosabeth Moss Kantor, of Harvard Business School, said, “My personal law of management, if not life, is that everything looks like a failure in the middle.”

My decision for today? To stay here in the middle of the mess and allow my Zoom background to reveal the truth of what’s going on. The road to my vision includes disarray, not knowing where everything is, and being patient in the process. Anger and resentment will not move me any faster than peace and serenity. I’m choosing the latter. It may not look so good, but my inner happiness matters more.                                                                                                 

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