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A Few Fun Ways to Cover Your Ass


I’m not the only one, right?

I’m not the only one who has that little voice in my head that sometimes preys on my fears and messes with me, but mostly provides me with invaluable insights and guidance…right?

And, I’m not the only one who sometimes blatantly ignores this voice, tells it NOT NOW! I”m busy! and goes about my business with an uneasy, ‘but what if…’ feeling…right?

For the last two weeks, I’ve been living on a steady diet of my Macbook, adrenaline and dark chocolate (with a little soup thrown in for good measure). Amongst other things, sleep has been missing. But last night, I hit a wall and decided to go to bed at 8:00 pm.

When I got into bed, my little voice said, ‘Where’s your Blackberry? It sure would suck if it started ringing and woke you up!’ No one’s going to call…it’s fine, I said. My excuse? I was really warm and it was snowing outside. (Though the phone was in my dining room and I don’t have to go outside to get there.) Then, I fell asleep quickly and easily for the first time in, like I told you, weeks.

The phone rang at 9:30.

The phone rang at 10:15.

It’s the loudest, most obnoxious ring you’ve ever heard so that I don’t miss calls from John Stewart, Ellen, Arianna Huffington or Random House (in that order). I also would answer if Oprah called. Or Anderson Cooper.

Oh, and Silas started barking at 4am – anyone want a dog? Just kidding, Silas, I would never – but that’s another story. The point is that my good, long night of sleep was ruined. I am not good at being woken up, my mind starts racing and writing and worrying – and I have a hard time falling back to sleep.

So, I started thinking that scenarios such as this arise in life and work, and that while that little voice is sometimes ignored, there are other factors at play. It all comes down to covering your ass. How can you avoid ruination?

Here are some ways that I cover my own:

1. I just published an eBook. No matter how many times I edited the thing, I found a new mistake. So, I added a simple line in the book:

Oh…and by the way, I’ve tucked some adorable typos into
this book. If you can find them, you get a prize. Something fun
like a link and a shout out on my blog.

Voila, ass covered. If there are typos, they are now there on purpose and everyone’s happy.

2. I have a LOT swimming around in my head: business, creative, family – don’t you? The best ass saver in the world is a machine that not only remembers everything, but also shows me instant search results at the hint of a word cue from me. My tool is my Macbook. In every single application, I can type any word or words into the search bar to find anything I’ve worked on. Doesn’t matter if it got filed wrong or if it was last year. Did I mention the search results are instant? As in, they show up as I type.

3. Always pack food, water and floss. Even if you’re just running into town for a quick errand. If you don’t, chances are that you’ll end up hungry, thirsty and with food in your teeth.

4. I ask for as much information as possible to be delivered to me via email. Many times, especially when meetings are scheduled weeks in advance, I forget all of the details. This applies to countless other situations. But, if everything is documented in my email, I can do a search (see #2) for that topic or name, and read the whole story – re-acclimating myself to the details, actions and expectations.

5. Be completely honest all the time. I’m not trying to sound like your mother, really, I’m not. But if you are completely honest 100% of the time, you will never waste any time, or screw up a relationship, by trying to remember what you said, who you said it to or when you said it. Or so I’m told.

6. Back up. People, if you aren’t backing up your work on your computer, I simply can’t keep talking to you. Do it.

7. Turn off your phone before bed. I’m sure that Ellen will leave you a message…and why would she call in the middle of the night anyway?

Your turn because there must be a zillion more ways to cover your ass, and I’m exhausted from all the not-sleeping.

How do you cover your ass? Go.

(p.s. this post is dedicated to my buddy, James Moreau)

Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • Dan Power says:

    Julie, great post as usual. I love your conversational, relaxed writing style, and your post brought a smile to my face.

    Now if we can just get it to stop snowing!

  • Julie I love your CYA tips! And the ebook one is brilliant. That’s how you turn lemons into lemonade :). Plus, I have the same issue with sleep. You could not have described it any better. My brain won’t shut down. At least you’ve put your thoughts to work for you! I’m still working on channeling them into something productive.

  • Rosy Villa says:

    Loved your post! I cover my butt, by telling everyone I’m human and I do make mistakes. I try to be as honest as possible, try to practice what I preach and sometimes when it doesn’t work, I always will try better the next time. Oh, I do need to back up more often. Thanks!

  • Cassie Boorn says:

    I smile. Honestly you think that is a joke I know but it works with professors and bosses alike oh and with family and friends. When I make a mistake or forget a paper or homework or well everything I forget. I laugh like oh yeah i knew I was supposed to be doing something. I just wrote about three run on sentences but with the amount of coffee in my system it shows you how fast i am talking today. (lacking sleep as well)

  • Julie Roads says:

    Dan – I am trying to pull some strings on the snow.
    Janine – Thank you for introducing this: CYA (love it)
    Rosy – go back up right now!
    Cassie – ah, yes, that adorable smile. Gets ’em every time. And, it’s not just for pretty girls – smiles are contagious and soften any blow.

  • I can’t remember what I said, whom I said it to or when I said it AT ALL. Why would I complicate that by lying? %) Like the floss tip. And the “prizes for typos” idea – genius!

  • Debra Snider says:

    Wonderful advice, Julie, both at the tactical “what can I be doing” level and at the emotional “how can I set things up for a positive, productive life & feel good about myself” level.

    I particularly love #5. One of the high level lessons I always mention in my talks on success strategies is “Be who you are. There’s no time for two personalities.” Not only does this help people understand that their differences are actually competitive advantages rather than disadvantages, it also stresses the flat-out efficiency of honesty (in case anyone needs extra incentive to do something so inherently right).

  • --Deb says:

    #1 … you know, I truly wondered if that was the reason you added that line. To cover yourself and make any potential typos look deliberate … but I thought that ASKING you would sound insulting, so I kept it to myself! (grin)

  • Melissa says:

    I have GOT to use the “find the typos and win a prize” idea – that’s brilliant.

    I’m exhausted hearing how much you are doing, but mostly because I am the same way. I am up late, not eating well, worrying about little things and being unable to fall back asleep if my dog should decide to defend us against an attack in the middle of the night (yes, I have one of them, too).

    Much of my worry and stress comes from the need to make everything perfect. I grew up trying to make things perfect and am now spending years trying to undo all the damage that created.

    Letting go is a great way to deal with the CYA stuff. It’s all OK. If someone wants their money back because of a typo in your ebook – and hey, it’s an ebook, so you could just fix the typo and send new copy – then they will probably be a PITAC (pain in the ass customer) to deal with at a later date – one who always has something to complain about.

    I try to deal by trying to not be so perfect. However, it’s hard. I just said I was up until 2am, too, trying to put all of my ducks in a row. Your post was a good reminder to keep trying! Thanks!

  • readergirl says:

    it is not always “fun” but i document everything! being a teacher means i keep a clipboard to check off how often my students break rules and then send home a weekly report to parents letting them know if their child had a good week or not. the note also tells parents what we are studying, long term assignments, and important dates.this little note saves a great deal of upset parents at conference time! no parent can ever go to the principal (or me) and say: “I didn’t know”. (I also upload it to the district web site for parents to access online!)

  • Steve (aka Uncle Steve) says:

    I thought I was the only one who cannot go back to sleep once my mind starts racing! Great blog, Jules!

  • Surely James Moreau is honored by this which you have written for him.

  • “For the last two weeks, I’ve been living on a steady diet of my Macbook, adrenaline and dark chocolate (with a little soup thrown in for good measure). Amongst other things, sleep has been missing. But last night, I hit a wall and decided to go to bed at 8:00 pm.”…
    This has just happened to me and I thought I was off…thanks for the validation that I need to slow down…I was thinking it was something worse…

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