A Pit Bull, a Child, and a Moment of Clarity
A couple of times a year I have those “Aha” moments that help me pivot from the frustrating track that defines insanity. Its funny how when there is an elephant in the room, if it sits still and quiet long enough, people will forget that it is there. I used to have a pit bull for a pet. I was in awe of the power she packed in such a compact body. Even though I loved her, she was still an animal and needed to be dealt with accordingly. That didn’t stop me from having a couple of lapses in judgment about her, fortunately never too severely. Think about the people that have tigers for pets. After a while without incident, some owners minds get a bit hazy, and they forget that their pet is indeed a tiger, capable of mauling them in seconds. Unfortunately the consequences of this misjudgment are often irreparable.
The other night I commented to my daughter how I was baffled that the most informed person on a subject was not consulted on an important decision. Digging a bit further, she told me “I didn’t think I needed to ask”. This was very telling – she didn’t ask because she didn’t think it was required. She wasn’t thinking about how to make the best decision, rather she was thinking about what she “had to do”. How many times do we look to emotionally comply rather than doing something intentionally the best we can?
I find that through restraint, my insights and strength grow, giving me the capacity for much more than I share. I almost enjoy the self inflicted punishment of pause, as I hum “I think I can, I think I can” while enduring it. Herein lies the challenge – since I am not the squeaky wheel, my wishes often go overlooked. My desire to enjoy ice cream with others that seize their opportunity to advance, biting my tongue while they learn their way conflicts with my infrequent but necessary authoritarian responsibilities. My approach to situations, though it empowers others, often leaves me in a spot of being taken advantage of or dismissed. It also leaves them ill-equipped to act. My active pursuit of growth through silence, often leaves others under-informed and overmatched – not exactly the desired traits of a teammate. Sometimes I need to just decide and lead and let others sort out their feelings.
I need to respect that my silence can connive people into believing all sorts of mistruths. Lack of accountability to goals can trick people that it is okay to dismiss an authority’s goals. Silence does not equal acceptance. Keep the main thing, the main thing. To protect those that I care about, I need to provide some real world evidence. I just had an email exchange with a colleague where I demonstrated how what I shared as being important to us was repeatedly shared and completely dismissed by the other party in the negotiation. I am sure this was unwittingly. I wonder, though, if I provided real world evidence if the outcome would have better aligned with our goals rather than leaving me apprehensive about the future of the relationship.
As I hit send on this message, I am more aware of a counter-intuitive need to remind people of our presence.