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Elephants and Tree Branches

Have you ever looked at an image and felt like you truly identified with it but didn’t know why, like some sort of weird synchronicity that you just couldn’t put your finger on? For four months now, I’ve been looking at the image at the top of this page and wondered about it and why it was speaking to me.

For four months now, I’ve been engaged in the mind‑blowing task of learning this magazine—it’s people, process, personalities, advertisers, readers, history, heart, and soul. There are consultants to manage, employees who are remote, brand-new systems to learn, not to mention, an entirely new language they call “editing.” There’s an advertising sales process that’s new to me and large teams from huge companies with marketing and sales departments to get to know. There’s the asset protection community that needs and deserves the best content possible. All this while knowing full well there is a legacy to keep intact and preserved.

At the end of this four months, I can honestly say that while the main figure in the photo above is the elephant, I am identifying with the fragile branch on which she perches. And at times, feeling like the part of the branch directly underneath her.

- Digital Partner -

Lest this comes across a bit whiny, let me explain. This is an awesome weight, but just like the tree branch, we don’t get stronger without being tested. Please readers and advertisers be patient while bending is underway. As I stumble around, make mistakes, learn, and get stronger, a daily goal is to remind myself of how lucky I am to be surrounded by those who wish me success and put their wishes into action by helping without being asked. Jack Trlica never thought he’d be training a type-A personality with non‑stop questions at this point in his career. Thank you for your patience, Jack, and for putting off that drink with a little umbrella on the beach for a couple more months. There have already been opportunities to pay forward some of this good will, and for that I am also grateful.

There is an old Buddhist parable about a group of blind men meeting an elephant for the first time that applies in this situation and maybe to yours in your job as well. As each man approaches a different part of the elephant, they misidentify the part but come close to getting it right. For example, saying a tusk is a spear is not totally wrong. The gist is that we each approach an unknown situation with our own context and, a lot of the time, we only have it partially right.

Have you ever started a new job as an asset protection professional and met team members only to find out later they weren’t what you thought? Or been trained on a process and not really become proficient until months later? Why is that? You were trained, right? You understood the assignment—it just takes time for the whole elephant to become clear and to develop the proper context. We all need to have patience with ourselves because those elephants can be big and tough.

As we head into 2023, you may or may not engage in New Year’s resolutions. I’m not really one for resolutions, but I like to think about goals for the year. Among my many professional goals is patience for myself, just like Jack has for me. Right now, I’m fumbling around trying to figure out what is what, which part is the tail, and which is the tusk. I’ll let you know when I have the elephant figured out.

May your 2023 bring you a year of patience and gratitude.

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