The Most Important Thing We Can Do
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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.