Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Reasonable things requested unreasonably

Don't think there's much worse than having somebody ask for something reasonable in a bitchy way. If you say yes, you're a patsy and a pushover. If you say no, you're refusing to do something that's eminently reasonable -- even necessary.

If the request were made in a kind and appreciative way, it would be a pleasure to perform. If the request itself were unreasonable, it would be simple to say "No." But what do you do when it's neither?

Role and Performance

I've been getting in some high-drama situations lately, which I think come down to a definition and appreciation of roles.

Let's envision a secretary and an executive. The secretary is trained -- and predisposed -- to keep track of details. The executive is a "big picture" guy.

The big picture guy has an appreciation for both the big and small picture -- and also understands that he has delegated the small picture to his secretary.

The secretary, however, appreciates the small picture details, but neither understands nor appreciates the big picture.

The result is that the secretary sees no value in what the executive does, and sees all of his failures in the "small picture" as deep incompetence on his part.

I wonder how one could keep the secretary happy. The concept in the boss's mind -- which revolves around an appreciation for different roles in a team -- doesn't seem to mean anything to her, because she doesn't understand or appreciate his role.

Some people allow her the illusion of power and control in the small picture. Do what she says with obedience and reverence for the significance she finds in it. Joke about your incompetence in that area, and how you "couldn't survive without her." This seems like a common approach.

My first reaction to this approach is to draw back, because it's an illusion and lie. But maybe it's a helpful lie. If the secretary actually does know the value of the big picture -- but finds herself incompetent to deal with it and insecure from her incompetence, she is unlikely to consider herself "better" than the executive. Instead, she is likely to find her "niche" to be a pleasant little bubble of competence where she can pretend she is "in charge."

I have fought this for years because it is a lie. And I have gotten nothing but negative results and failure. Perhaps the key to accepting it is recognizing that it is a lie -- but a lie to a child, because the child cannot handle the truth. And treating someone as though they can handle a truth that they cannot in fact handle is a recipe for disaster.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Meaning III

It occurred to me a couple days ago ... "the meaning of life" could be answered in the same way as "the meaning of a sentence" -- i.e. whatever the author meant it to mean. the meaning of life? whatever we mean our lives to mean.

Simplistic perhaps. But liberating somehow.

Why do we passively wait to find a "meaning of life" outside ourselves. if we truly have free will (and my daily experience says I do) then the meaning of my life is whatever i want my life to mean.

This is not a theological statement. It's true with or without a God. Real question is "What do I want my life to mean?" and "how do i make it mean that?"