When things don’t work out as expected, when people disappoint us, who dropped the ball? The answer is more complicated than it may seem at first glance.
How much better would your world be if other people just understood that you seldom intend to say or do whatever is annoying or frustrating them? Let’s think about how that might work.
People seldom intend to be jerks. I think we have all had to deal with someone who is just being a jerk. They are being difficult and impossible to cope with due to their seeming to be stupid, insensitive, hopelessly self-centered or clueless, or maybe all of the above. But are we ever the jerk in the picture? We sure don’t intend to be the jerk but we probably have our jerk moments, at least from the perspective of other people. As reasonable and as appropriate as we try to be, even nice people like us may slip into jerk mode at times.
People seldom intend to do less than their best. Do they always make an effort to do everything they can do as well as they can do it? No, people surely don’t do that. Rather, they usually make their best effort to do as much as they think is necessary and to do it as well as they think it needs done. The problem is that we may not agree that they have done enough or done it as well as we needed it done. Our issue is that we wanted more or better. From our perspective, the other person could have and should have done more or done better. It seems to us that we haven’t gotten his or her best effort. We have to deal with a shirker, with someone who is lazy or is sloppy and half does things. Of course we always give everything we do our best effort, always do things correctly and completely – or do we?
The Great Mouse has returned and our intrepid hunters are again on the chase. Press play and join in as a neutral observer.
Once upon a time there was a wannabe podcaster. It doesn’t matter whether you insert he or she or perhaps even me. Wannabe was as far as it had gotten so far.
Every day our wanna be podcaster connected the microphone to the mixer and plugged that into the computer, with the recording software ready to capture wise words and clever banter. But the wise words and clever banter never emerged. Our wannabe podcaster was stuck, waiting on an inspiration that stubbornly refused to inspire.
One day, an inspiration of sorts was unexpectedly just there, astonishing our wannabe podcaster. The mute switch on the microphone accidentally or perhaps magically shifted from mute to record. The microphone started serving its intended purpose; the mixer joined into the signal chain; the computer started computing; and the recording software started recording. This all happened when our wannabe podcaster was just getting into what had become a daily rant about how hard it was to podcast and how much easier it would be to just quit trying.
Because of that fortunate bit of serendipity, our wannabe podcaster had an actual recording. No, it did not raise to the level of wise words or clever banter, but it was way more than nothing, way more than all that daily effort had produced so far. Just maybe it was a start down that podcasting road.
Because of that, wannabe figured it was time to move on past the wannabe status and jump into being an actual podcaster. It wasn’t a grand opening or anything close to the splash our wannabe podcaster had fantasized. Even so, it wasn’t nothing. Our hopeful podcaster posted the accidental recording on Facebook where it got 71 likes within three hours of being posted. Okay, a Facebook post is not a podcast, but our happy Facebook poster now knew that at least 71 people actually liked his recording. Could for real podcasting be all that far away?
Sure, there were more actual recordings, more posts on Facebook and more likes, until finally our newbie podcaster figured out what was needed to move those Facebook posts over to a real podcast channel, with a growing group of subscribers and enthusiastic fans. You may run across the podcast one day when you are just searching for something interesting enough to keep your attention for a while. Don’t be surprised that there aren’t many wise words or much clever banter. That’s just not what our more experienced podcaster is aiming for. You will always get straight talk and useful tips from a podcaster who always keeps it real.
Now you know so there you go.
Sure, some lucky ducks were born with silver spoons in their mouths; and in life’s great poker game, some people get better cards than others. It’s enough to make you just sit down and cry. The old law-of-averages certainly doesn’t apply to you. If luck were really a lady, the world would be a fairer place. Even if it weren’t, at least you would get better cards. Maybe your luck will turn; but then again, maybe not. In the meantime, you will need to simply go with the cards you are dealt.
Okay, you get it; but it’s still a roll of the dice and you can’t do much about that fact of life; but, maybe you can. A friend tells this story. “It was bright-and-early one morning when Grandpa found an exceptionally fine sea shell on the beach. I flippantly commented, ‘That was just dumb luck, your finding that shell.’ He smiled and replied, ‘Yes, it was dumb luck for a guy who was already on the beach and looking before 6:30.'”
Sure, luck and maybe even dumb luck at times play a big part in a lot of things. Things happen and you can’t control everything; but you can make a point to be on the beach before 6:30 and can make the extra effort it takes to improve the odds for your success. The old-timers call this “smart luck.”
Thomas Jefferson also supported personal responsibility as an important key to good luck. “I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” The famous Anon. added one more key to unlocking luck’s door, “Luck is when opportunity knocks and you answer.” It really is just like R.E. Shay said, “Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit.”
Now you know so there you go.
The idea that excellence is a product of training isn’t surprising. Athletes, musicians, and those who achieve preeminence in other areas requiring superior personal performance are well-aware of the necessity and value of continuous training. The point that may not be as obvious is that training and habituation are prerequisites for areas of excellence beyond developing physical skills and individual talents. They are necessary for emotional excellence, moral excellence, interpersonal excellence, as well as intellectual excellence. The point that may be even less obvious is as Aristotle said, “Training and habituation are prerequisite to virtue. People have the capacity to be virtuous but become virtuous people only through training and habitually acting rightly. One becomes virtuous by acting virtuously.”
How does one act virtuously? Cicero advised, “It is our special duty, that if anyone needs our help, we should give him such help to the utmost of our power.” Confucius said, “To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue… gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.” Although how one practices “gravity” is less than obvious, the other four requirements need no explanation. John Wesley was even clearer when he said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” Now that leaves little room for doubt or negotiation.
The message has not changed over the millennia. Dante said, “He who sees a need and waits to be asked for help is as unkind as if he had refused it.” Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Is virtue the path to personal joy and fulfillment? Probably not. George Bernard Shaw said, “Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.” Why? As George Eliot put it, “Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds.” Remember Aristotle’s message, “We are what we repeatedly do.” The choice is to habitually act rightly or to act wrongly. At that level, it’s not much of a choice. The key is remembering that acting virtuously is an essential part of one’s ongoing excellence training.
Now you know so there you go.
Taken from Ecological Human Services Management
Shift focus now to consider human services agency excellence from a Management Perspective. Earlier, we saw the agency is not a static entity with fixed relationships to other entities and elements. It is more like an organism whose survival and success are interdependent with the survival and success of many other organisms and elements in the incorporating environment. As we consider internal agency functioning, the organic analogy applies just as it does within the Helping Triangle.
The people — agency staff — associated with the internal operation of the agency are not static entities with fixed relationships to other entities. Rather, they are separate, autonomous organisms dynamically associating to form the internal portion of the agency’s eco system. I refer to this as the internal eco system. Taking the analogy a step further, the purpose of agency Management is to establish, support, and sustain the internal eco system.
There is an underlying point here that is somewhat counter-intuitive. The purpose of agency Management is not to manage people. The purpose is to establish, support, and sustain the internal eco system. Agency Managers do not manage people. They manage the internal eco system or aspects of the eco system. Agency staff function as self-managing organisms within the internal eco system. De Pree (2004, page 15-17) When talking about organizational leaders advised us in part that leaders owe the organization’s people a clear statement of the values of the organization; a new reference point for what caring, purposeful, committed people can be in the institutional setting; maturity as a sense of self worth, a sense of belonging, a sense of expectancy, a sense of responsibility, a sense of accountability, a sense of equality; rationality valuing trust, human dignity, and self fulfillment; and space to grow and exercise diversity. As managers manage the internal eco system, they must keep this covenant with everyone associated with the agency. …
Chapter 4 – The Assessment Set
Crises are not always what they seem to be. For example, Michelle is in what might be considered a suicidal crisis, that is, she might kill herself if something is not done. To the casual observer, it may seem that the “possible suicide” is the crisis. Of course, Michelle’s killing herself is the “potential” of the crisis. But it is not the crisis itself. The crisis exists in the temporary and serious interaction problem between Michelle and her situation.
Wanda’s anger is almost rage like. “That bastard—my husband—can’t think that he can treat me that way and that I’ll just sit around and do nothing. He’ll find out that I’m not just that quiet little mouse he thinks he married. I’m going to do it this time. I won’t stand for it. He can’t do that and get away with it.”
What did Wanda’s husband do? What is she going to do? From her initial angry comments, we are unable to answer either question. Nonetheless, considering how angry she is, we get a sense that her actions may not work out very well. Within those actions lies the now potential of the crisis. Whatever her husband did seems to have precipitated the crisis. We can see, then, that Wanda is between the precipitating event and acting out the now potential. For her, though, the crisis is now. Her present interaction (with you) is the first focal point. Your assessment of her crisis will expand to include both the precipitating event and the now potential. You will look at possible causes and possible cumulative effects. Gradually, you can develop a picture of her crisis in a careful and caring way. Nonetheless, starting where Wanda is now and expanding your understanding from there allows you to assess her crisis effectively, gives emphasis to your “now” relationship with her, avoids the possibility of oversimplifying the crisis, on the one hand, or seeing it as more complex than it really is, on the other. You can help Wanda both understand and deal with her crisis as it really is. …
Start your journey with E. E. Cummings who said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” Then invite Samuel Johnson to join your trek. He is the one who said, “There lurks, perhaps, in every human heart a desire of distinction, which inclines every man first to hope, and then to believe, that Nature has given him something peculiar to himself.” You should let Friedrich Nietzsche come along too, for he said, “At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth, and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time.”
Julius Charles Hare also has some advice qualifying him to serve as your traveling companion, “Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are.” It was your fellow traveler, Samuel Johnson, who said, “Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep.”
With that in mind, find room in your party for John Mason. You need his wisdom, “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” “Rabbi Zusya said on the Day of Judgment that, God would ask him, not why he had not been Moses, but why he had not been Zusya.” (Walter Kaufmann) Just be sure you are not asked why you hadn’t been you. …
The How To Matter podcasting team has gone a missing. Strangeness is abound. How it gets from there to a little kindness is certainly a mystery. Please listen and learn how the mystery is resolved, or not.