Sunday, January 20, 2013

Should I Quit?

The thought is simple enough. Every event is a struggle. There is dissent among the members. There is a serious lack of communication. Every collaboration I say to myself, ’one more day, it’s not about me, it’s about something bigger.’ Obviously they don’t need me, but without me the situation would only be worse. I can’t do that to the majority of members that appreciate my presence. I know, I know, trying to please other people is a losing game. Yet it is my lot in life. I would much rather prefer we get along. Let me tell you a story of discontent.

Years ago I was assigned to a team. When I looked at the other members of the team I thought, ‘this is ridiculous! There is no way that being on this team is going to be enjoyable.’ How naive I was! I brought this up to the two people that assigned me to the team, and they simply said, “Isaiah, we knew you were the only one who could handle this position.” That one sentence shocked me. I had been looking at the task ahead as a punishment or some length of torture. Suddenly, the motivation changed. No longer was it a hassle or a series of arguments waiting to happen, it was an opportunity to unite, connect, teach, and be the peacemaker. The team was not about me. Yet I had a role that only I could fill. In the time that followed, it ended up being one of the greatest professional collaboration experiences I have ever had. I amazed myself. I had more patience than I knew. I had more tact than I ever expected. I learned more from my formerly feared teammates than I expected. It was a really great experience. Finally, when the team disbanded and we each went our separate way, I was rewarded with a reward beyond my imagination. Known only to two or three people I still struggle to understand what I did to receive such an award. 

When I am in difficult collaboration situations I often think about that team. How did we do so well? I was there. I was part of it. I know that I can help replicate similarly stellar results on difficult collaborations in the future. Yet, I struggle because I know it is difficult. The emotion required is so great. The reward so distant. There is absolutely no guarantee of success. Also, I am fine with quitting. Quitting something refines our priorities. It allows us to develop more deeply in areas that are more important to us. We all need to quit different things at different times in our life. 

I know I sound like a hypocrite for all I talk about loving commitment and now I’m writing about quitting. And I still do love commitment, that’s why I keep showing up. If I absolutely knew that quitting was the best option I would have taken it. Yet I am very analytical and deliberate, when I do something, I usually mean it. Sometimes I do shoot my mouth off without enough thought, but my actions usually remain more consistent with my best intentions. As I age I am getting better on both of those accounts. In fact, this particular conflict is teaching me enormous amounts about relationships. I suppose a question worth answering is, is the amount I am learning or quality of instruction from this challenge worth the suffering? Well, it must be because I am still here. 

As the struggles continue, and many people suffer, and I continue to redefine my respect for others, I am reminded of a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” I leaned very recently, that I have a very big stick. I did not know that. I didn’t even think I had a stick. Which brings us to a Stan Lee, FDR or Luke 12:48 quote depending on your interpretation, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

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