What we can’t see

When I started my first agency, we had a client I didn’t love. He was a nice guy, and I liked his work, but I thought he was annoying and frustrating, and we ended up firing him as a client. The funny thing is, we probably shouldn’t have.

My job for this client was to take a Word Doc and photos and turn them into a MailChimp newsletter. Seems simple, but it never was. Every month was the same thing. He would send me the stuff with a tight deadline. I would put it into MailChimp within a few hours and send him a draft. Then, he would respond with the most detailed feedback I could imagine. Things like put a space here, make this image 5% larger, and there is too much space under this headline but not enough space under the next one.

I would make all the updates and send him the next draft. And, his list would come back, just slightly shorter this time. Three to five drafts in, we would finally have a final email we could ship. It was terrible; only it shouldn’t have been.

Looking back, I realize that client could see what I could not. To me, the newsletter looked fine. The images were in roughly the right spots, and the headings were, well, headings, etc. It was good enough; only it wasn’t. My client could see the errors, where I had just missed the details. I was oblivious to them, but he saw them immediately. He could see what I could not.

The same is true with my kids and me. I’ll ask them to clean the kitchen. Fifteen minutes later, they will triumphantly announce it’s clean. I’ll then say something like, “it’s clean like I would clean it?” or, “it’s clean like we are ready to host Thanksgiving?” (because we all know that hosting Thanksgiving produces the cleanest home known to man, and I love that). And the kids will assure me the kitchen is perfect. When I walk in to check it out, it’s not.

I can see what they can’t. I instantly see the floor that didn’t get swept or the counter that got partly wiped down. My eyes hone in on the crusty food under the stove burners and the dishes that were inexplicably left on the table. I see it all in an instant, but they can’t. They try, and I try to show them, but some things are invisible to them. And that’s ok. One day, they will see clearly.

I see things more clearly now than before, and I hope you do too. But I wonder what I can’t see right now. What am I missing? What obvious thing will my future self look back on and shake their head about? I wonder, hoping that wonder will open my eyes just a little more tomorrow than they are today.

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