A friend asked me the other day if I am slow to anger or a quick outburst kind of person.
It takes a lot for me to move into anger, I told them. Generally, I’m able to recognize what’s mine and what’s not and figure out what I am powerful enough to effect, or not, and to let what I can’t change go. But, social injustice, mistreatment of people I care about, well, that’s another matter.
When my daughters were in school they dreaded telling me anything untoward that may have happened in the classroom, especially if it involved a teacher calling them out or questioning their integrity. They knew I’d be there in a flash, flying in on my broom, sweeping away any obstacles that got in the way of my righting the wrong and setting the perpetrator straight. Years after graduating my youngest daughter told me she went so far as to log her cell phone number with the high school so that she could vet any calls. And I wondered why there were no parent/teacher interviews! 🙂
What I perceive to be social injustice is a hot bottom for me. I can deal with what I judge to be sheer stupidity — when people know better they do better. I do not do well with unkindness and unfairness to others.
The same holds true in the workplace. I can handle heavy workloads, tight deadlines, sudden changes and even uncertainty in direction.
I do not do unfair treatment of fellow staff members well.
I have worked for many organizations where management claims people are their priority, that they are their greatest asset and always, their actions are the proof of the value and integrity of their words. And while I don’t think it is a hard tenet to live by — that people come first — I have found that many organizations struggle with walking the talk.
My challenge isn’t what other people are doing. It’s what am I doing about it? Am I aligned with my values and principles or am I off-side? Am I walking my talk or taking a side-trip to the land of no integrity?
I believe people, all people, deserve to be treated with integrity, fairness and kindness. I believe it is a measure of my worth how I respect other people’s worth. I have the right to my anger, I do not have the right to be cruel because, no matter the circumstances, I am always responsible for how I express anger and fear or any kind of emotion.
I am 100% responsible and accountable for me and I trust you to be 100% responsible and accountable for you.
And here’s the rub, sometimes, I forget about trusting in the responsibility and accountability of the other party. Sometimes, I think it’s all up to me. Sort of like how I used to believe I was responsible for starving children around the world and women being raped in war-torn lands. I think I need to fix it all.
I am not that powerful.
My job is to be true to me. To walk my talk. To stand in my values and principles and know that I am aligned. It’s not about judging your values and principles, it’s about recognizing where I am compromising or undermining mine and acknowledging what I’m willing to do to bring myself back into alignment — and then to do it.
I have been struggling with a situation in my life that is not sitting well with me.
It’s not about what other’s are doing. People will do what people will do. It’s about what am I willing to do to speak up, to strive for better. Am I willing to engage in the conversation? Am I willing to step into the discord and speak my truth, fearlessly, lovingly, compassionately? Am I willing to walk my talk?
For me, it begins with acknowledging what lies heavy on my heart and being willing to step outside the comfort of silence to be heard. As I’ve written here before, my job is to turn up, pay attention, speak my truth and stay unattached to the outcome.
Not always easy when I am emotionally engaged in judging who’s right, who’s wrong and what they need to do to change. From where I stand in stubborn, self-righteous, indignation, there’s little room for honest conversation.
Time to get off my high horse and step onto terra firma where I am grounded in the truth that my experience begins with me. To have my best experience I must let go of judgements and speak up with loving kindness and compassion.