Not long ago, my friend Amanda called me with urgent news.
“I’m launching a movement,” she said, with her trademark spot-on deadpan delivery. “There will be bumper stickers, rubber bracelets, the works. Its simple: WWBND.”
I paused for a moment, trying to figure out the code in which she was speaking. Then, when she could contain her mirth no longer, she exclaimed:
“What Would Bari Nan Do!”
I burst out laughing.
“See, its like this. I was trying to figure out how to handle a situation the other day, and it required me to be somewhat assertive, so I asked my husband for some advice on how to go about it,” she said. “And he said, ‘That’s easy. Just ask yourself, What Would Bari Nan Do?”
We both laughed for a while after that.
If you’ve met me once, you know I have a hard time keeping my opinions to myself. I sometimes appear to live by the maxim that an unshared opinion is not worth having. In reality, I’m neither extreme nor so convinced of my own correctness that I feel the world would benefit from hearing my every thought.
In fact, I’m often extremely confident in the knowledge that I have not a clue what I’m doing—I’m kind of an idiot in the kitchen, or attempting any sort of higher math. My spatial relations are so poor that I am of the firm belief that the awkward relationship between the top of my driveway and my car’s garage bay were created to remind me that I nearly failed Geometry. But, in life and in my work, I have a knack for seeing through to the heart of a situation and offering a firm, yet diplomatic perspective. My own mother calls upon me for advice in this vein on a regular basis. It’s not unusual for a high school friend to email me and say, “Shoot, I’m in a jam with another mom, and I want your opinion on how to handle it.” I tend to enlist the village, offering my insight and then collecting a couple of other opinions from people I respect. See, often, the answer to WWBND is that I’ll ask someone smarter than me, or with a different approach, to weigh in. In my job, I’m adept at interviewing a variety of experts on a topic to see where the consensus breaks and the fresh insights come in. This is a life skill I owe to my career.
Since that call, Amanda and I incorporated WWBND into our day. If my friends on the preschool board (Amanda’s one of them) hear me step in to resolve a debate, they holler it out, mid-meeting. And, a couple of weeks ago, over a shared pizza, my friend Sarah (one of the smartest, most sensible people I know; she’s a highly respected, specialized peditrician) ‘fessed up that she was stymied by an interaction with a vendor doing work at her home. “You don’t have this problem,” she said to me. “I said to myself, Bari Nan would know exactly how to express her concerns to the guy.”
I had to admit that the chink in my can-do armor lies in that exact domain—dealing with vendors who work on projects at my home. But I’m pretty good at helping my friends figure out how to manage it better.
So, WWBND is born. It’s, for lack of a better term, the advice column at BariNan.com.
I invite you, my friends and readers, to ask me a question and I’ll tell you how I’d handle it. I’ll do my best to blend my armchair shrink side with my pragmatic, get to the heart of the matter side, and we can use it as a jumping off point for discussion. Because that’s the most interesting part. And, by the way, if the answer to WWBND is “she’d ask an expert in the field what they think,” I’ll find the expert and get their take on the situation, too.
WWBND? BRING IT ON!