Tuesday, March 3, 2009

sometimes people get in the way

I'm thinking the past few days about human nature...not in the road-rage sense...not in the "I have to deal with this co-worker" sense. Just in the sense that we all have to interact with other people (unless you live in a box, in which case I hope it's lovely). The problem is that when we interact with other people, we all give something and get something. I guess this isn't a problem, per se, unless you are trying to achieve a common goal, then your personal needs can get in the way.

I was brought up in a house where volunteerism was encouraged and practiced. We didn't talk about it. It wasn't a "big deal"...it wasn't something my parents told my sister and I we needed to do, had to do, should do. But it was modeled for us, and it was modeled in a very meaningful way. I think that many people think of volunteering and they think it will be so hard, you have to find a place, you have to go sign up, and commit all that time. But my parents taught me that when you find an organization that means something to you, you give your time to it. In our case, it was things my sister and I were involved in: Scouts, 4-H, Band trips, school....if help was needed my parents were available. Not always, but many times. I know that to them it was a way of being around my sister and I, of taking part in what we were doing. Sometimes it was just "we'll be there anyway, might as well help out". Whatever it was, I saw my parents helping, doing, being there for others. Because they were committed to what they were doing, I saw that being helpful is a part of being a good person, of leading a fulfilling life. It's important.

When I began teaching I often went over and above...I stayed after, got involved in activities. I guess it looks good on a resume, but really I did it because I loved being around the kids I taught, and I loved being able to get to know them outside the classroom. I really really liked laughing with kids while supervising and directing the variety show. I loved going to football games, wrestling matches, plays, concerts and seeing someone who was dismal in Chemistry really really shine at something else. I got to know my students as people.

Now that I stay at home, I volunteer for a couple of different organizations. As I said before, they are places that are near and dear to me. Organizations that mean something to me. And I love every minute of interaction I have in helping these places out. But something has been bothering me lately, and it's really got me in a huff. It really really bothers me when people volunteer and instead of helping the organization, need to have their own ego stoked. Sometimes it's really really obvious....someone on their little power trip, doing everything they can to let other people know that someone is in charge, someone has all the ideas, and everyone had better listen. Sometimes it's not so obvious, and not so, well...mean. Sometimes a person with the best of intentions just tries to do everything...and in the process they wear themselves out, piss other people off, and run the whole outfit into the ground.

I guess the reason it gets to frustrating is because so much is at stake. If the organization is important to you personally, you want the best for it. You think you can do it better, so you try. I hate when people complain about how things are run, then sit back and don't do anything to make it better. But sometimes I think it's worse to complain how things are run, and then get so involved that you start offending people personally. Worse yet, you get involved hoping to change things, and cannot see your own limitations.

Basically, as with most situations in life, ego plays it's part here. We want to know we are important. We want others to know that what we care about matters. But please, people....lets take a minute to think about how we communicate with others. Let's take a minute to remember that maybe we all want the same thing.

So many problems can be so easily solved by trying some simple things. Don't talk behind someone's back. Think before you speak. Think before you type. Read what you type. If you have a million things going on in your head, put them aside and focus on the task and the person in front of you, just for a minute. If you can't, then be honest enough to say so. Doing anything less is so disrespectful to the people you are working with and cause you believe in.

1 comment:

purlewe said...

like WHOA. you are so hitting the nail on the head with this one. it is one of the reasons many non-profits fail.

I love you.