Yesterday, returning from 10 days of vacation, I tried to get myself back into civilian rhythm with a workout at Victoria Park, my gym of choice. Even though I am perhaps the least social person at this somewhat tiny fitness centre -- intensely concentrated and conspicuously plugged into a wall of sound -- I am often pleasantly interrupted by a flow of old and new friends who belong to the same place.
And as is the case every August, the small talk during these interruptions usually focuses on the previous month's Just For Laughs Festival. Often, I field soft-peddled complaints, but given the success of this year's event, yesterday's chat was effervescently positive...yet still somewhat personally awkward.
"I just wanted to come over here and thank you!" said a friend in the financial business.
"For what?" I asked, pulling out my right ear bud.
"For booking Dave Chappelle," he said. "I saw his last show and it was one of the great entertainment moments of my life."
"I appreciate," I replied, "but I had nothing to do with booking Chappelle. That was the doing of (Festival VP Programming) Robbie Praw and (COO) Bruce Hills."
"Still," he said, "but you DO manage them, so you had SOMETHING to do with it!"
I'll get to the point and the lesson next paragraph, but to cut the conversation short, I just said "I guess I do," and thanked my friend profusely before continuing pulling on TRX straps overhead.
The point, and the lesson, is about credit. Truth be told, the only way I could've had anything less to do with the success of the Dave Chappelle show at Just For Laughs was if I were laid out in a coma. Robbie booked it, and on the strength of one tweet and Chappelle's talent and mystique, we sold out 10 shows. But try to tell that to people who think otherwise.
They don't want to hear it.
People want to believe in what, and in whom, they want to believe. Like guilt, there's an effect called "success by association," and people are willing to give you credit for things you were so far away and foreign to, you'd need a passport to make your way back in. Whether you're being modest or on a quest for justice, explaining that it WASN'T you somehow seems to bother THEM.
OK, so then there's the other extreme: there are so many things I actually DID do this year--things that NOBODY knows about -- that were crucial to the event's success. These range from as wide as insisting that our hahaha.com website address take up one-third of all ad time and print space, to as narrow as having a closed-door pep talk with a teary, distraught rookie; from as large as extricating us from an onerous contract with a multi-national to as small as noticing a last-minute inconsistency in a Gala host's TV script.
But these things, things I am incredibly proud of, go unnoticed, except by perhaps those directly touched by them.
So what am I going to do? Next time someone mentions Chappelle, or something else I had little involvement with, pull out a checked-off "To Do List" and explain each accomplishment instead? Sure, if I want to ensure a prime spot next to Donald Trump on "The World's Most Insufferable" list.
Which brings us back to this week's lesson. When all is said and done...
Credit is like sunshine; enjoy it even if you had little or nothing to do with it.
When offered it, say thanks and let it make up for all the things you deserve credit for, but will never get. And hope that someone else gets the credit for something you did. Even if they don't remotely deserve it.
It evens out and balances the karmic wheel. It'll make your life easier. It will make others happier.
And it will ensure that all your future interruptions -- workout, meal, walk down the street, wherever -- will be positive ones.