I’m not very good at heights. Or enclosed spaces. Or the dark. When people tell me stories about vacations hiking in caves or scuba diving into enclosed underwater rooms, I usually plug my ears and hum.
Here’s what the guidebook doesn’t tell you about the treasured landmark Blarney Castle: it’s not for the faint of heart. I never planned to do the whole “lean over the abyss on my back to kiss a stone” thing, but I never expected the ascension to the top of the castle to be so dark. And enclosed. The higher you climb, the darker and more enclosed it gets. And, since you are in line behind people taking turns doing the aforementioned awkward kissing maneuver, the line moves slowly. Very slowly. It’s like something out of a horror movie for people like me.
When my family and I climbed the stairs to the top of Blarney Castle a few years ago, a man in full cold-weather motorcycle gear and carrying a helmet was climbing the (did I mention winding) staircase with his young son just above us. As it got darker and more narrow, an older woman (an obvious kindred spirit) became quite distressed. This man, a total stranger, talked to her the whole time in a calm and practical way, pointing out the crack of light to be seen at the top. He never stopped until she (and thankfully I ) got to the top. I am in awe of the kindness and generosity displayed by this man. He was exhibiting his best self and helping others in the process.
Very Kate appeared on the stairs to Blarney Castle. I named this site after her – the best version of myself. Very Kate is not an alter ego, but an enhanced ego. Kate 2.0. I yank on her mantle when I have to make a presentation before a large crowd, answer questions at Town Meeting, drive on the highway, begin difficult conversations, present to large crowds, conduct on-air interviews, and the like. Very Kate is my superpower. Just saying her name out loud makes me feel more confident.
I am guessing that fellow local government professionals could use a superpower to help them meet the demands and challenges of our digital age. How about you? Have you drawn strength from an enhanced version of you? What is your superpower?
Very Kate was here last week when I recorded a podcast with Brian Ondrako for Dude Solutions/Gov Gab. Being on a podcast is on my bucket list, so when I was asked to participate, I couldn’t say no. It was amazing to have the opportunity to share my story and celebrate my community with Brian. He was a great host. I will have to drag Very Kate out, though, to have the courage to actually listen to my own voice!
If you want to check it out, the podcast is at Dude Solutions’ Operate Intelligently/Gov Gab on ITunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find it here: https://shows.pippa.io/operate-intelligently-podcast/episodes/gov-gab-town-of-needham-ma-ep-6.