Let the Ball Go Up

I don’t do sad.

Sarcastic? Check. Irreverent? Oh, yeah. Cynical? Sometimes; although, cynicism and realism edge ever closer to being distinctions without differences. Skeptical? Always. But sad? No. That is, until …

Last week, my beautifully thoughtful friend, Kimberly Davis, wrote a piece called, “The Madness of Tagging”. It was clearly evident from the piece that the only thing more distressing to Kimberly than having to shovel through an avalanche of posts on which she’s routinely tagged was writing and publishing the piece about her distress at having to shovel through an avalanche of posts on which she’s routinely tagged. I later learned she’d felt guilty about writing the piece and hadn’t slept the night before it published.

Several things occurred to me then: First, if you end the day feeling guilty because you’ve neglected to respond to all the posts on which you were tagged — or because you haven’t gotten anything else accomplished because you did respond to all the posts on which you were tagged — something’s definitely gone awry.

Second, in addition to guilty, we end up feeling exhausted. Most of us derive energy from getting things done, from lining things up and picking them off. But when we’re working against the current of the tag torrent, we can’t be done. It’s never done because the torrent never ends.

Third, perhaps this guilt and exhaustion are aspects of the coronavirus learning curve. We’re creating myriad social-media interdependencies that start out being reassuring, that give us a sense of connection in a disarmingly disconnected and dysfunctional world. Then we find ourselves evolving toward enough already.

Yes. Growing pains do come in all different flavors. But these particular pains left me feeling sad, so sad I created this video:

Finally, I recalled a conversation I once had with my son, Sean, a gifted basketball coach. In a conversation about planning, I asked him if he created a plan for every game. He said, “Yes. I scout every team we’re going to play. And I create a plan for every game. But I have no idea what’s going to happen until the ball goes up.”

As we find our way through this coronavirus-infected world, I hope we can be patient with ourselves. I hope we can let the ball go up before beating ourselves up.

And, Kimberly, I hope you allow yourself to feel better. You’re by no means alone.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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