The Most Important Thing We Can Do
It seems that I’m unusual or perhaps I’m just lucky. I’ve worked on the same team for 12 years. It’s not because I’ve always loved it, because for a large part of that time I am frustrated and despairing. I saw, and still see, problems everywhere, problems that I know cause pain and anxiety, problems that are stubborn. So why didn’t I leave and try to find somewhere better?
I stayed because my managers care about the welfare of the people who work for them. I have a family. We’ve never worked long hours, never felt the kind of pressure that makes people sick. The people I work with are full of humanity. So what can I do about my frustration?
Attribution is too easy. My frustration isn’t caused by the behavior of others. It’s my inability to tell them what I saw, to share openly how I feel about it and to come together to find a better way for both of us. I might blame this on functional silos, or organization hierarchy (and they don’t help) but the only person really responsible for not acting is me. Vulnerability is hard.
I’ve learned that I can just go and talk to people, to discover what’s behind what I see, to listen and empathize. It takes courage. It requires me to build relationships with people, that I might be more comfortable just referring to as “Them”. It takes small steps and persistence. It’s simple and it’s perhaps the most important thing we can do.
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