A Wall I Might Not Climb

I haven’t explored much me in recent times at this blog. So suppose there’s still a place for such things. I think it’s a trap. OTOH maybe I can record it and revisit in hopes I can work it out. As may be seen shortly, however, I haven’t much confidence of success here. Conversation seems to fail me – I cannot bring up the terms and phrases that make all this clear, so discussing this in person just doesn’t work at this point. Of course I wonder if it ever has in my short history.

Something that frustrates me greatly is my lack of mental acuity to know what to do in a situation involving conflict. Specifically I mean conflicting personalities or motives. I’m tied up in some sort of blinding bubble that seems to prevent me from thinking clearly how to respond to direction or make decisions based on how others respond to me. I am tempted to back into a shell. In some regards, I think my head is still spinning from the buzz of three very intensive weeks of change. Things are very different from what I remember of all my previous assignments, even the other ships. Granted, I’m in a different paygrade and therefore position of authority, but what I remember from before does not reflect in what I see now. So things are confusing.

All that being said, I see my typical failures coming right through, amplified in some cases, but consistent. I can’t seem to employ tact in giving direction or making decisions. I can’t seem to communicate in a way that appeals to others. In fact, I’ve done a fair job of ruining others’ good impression of me in a couple of cases and I’m not sure there is a quick way to repair that. That, however, is something I think I can handle, for I’m aware of the method by which I may seek restoration: humble patience. I’m not necessarily good at that, but I know to pursue it; and for as long as necessary. But I keep stumbling over my own intentions and desires, my own understanding of these conflicted situations and mixed personalities. And it’s highly discouraging. I simply do not know what to do at any given moment. I wish I could explain the circumstances in which I find myself with a little more detail, but due to the professional nature of the situation I cannot.

So why is it that I can’t seem to get things right? One would think that, after 16 years of experience in this field, variety in many aspects making me supposedly well-exposed to a great variety of character and wisdom-building events, I would have learned how to deal with these conflicts. I am highly tempted to fall back on my old belief that this simply isn’t the place for me. Perhaps I’m not really cut out for this role. But in many ways I love it. I do enjoy the technical work and caring for others; trying to help with the labor and profession of this team. Every team with which I’ve been associated has seen me wanting to do for them. But I think every time I have seen the same failures on my part. This one may well be up there for contention as the worst 3 weeks of them all.

I know the fault of mine. But I cannot trace the fault of mine to every corner of the trial I find. My sin has undone some things which will take time and continued repentance to repair (Lord willing). But I still can’t escape my weakness. I can’t seem to overcome this inability to make wise decisions and time them correctly. And I can’t respond correctly when the conflict comes. Once upon a time everything was easy. I didn’t have these responsibilities. But that was long ago and now I have it, have had it for quite some time. And I have not experienced any improvement over that time. It appears to me as though I was still fresh into the pool with no stroke or rhythm whatsoever. This is a race I just don’t think I can run. Now that the overconfidence that stems from selfishness and newness has been crushed, I’m back to zero again. It seems to happen that way every time. I’m 37. I know there are a lot of years left in the maturity scales (should the Lord be kind to me in my aging). I have plenty of time on the job but from my perspective I show no remarkable improvement.

I swear that I am not a leader of men and right now I regret that I am again in that position.

The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor,
but the lips of a fool consume him.
The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness,
and the end of his talk is evil madness.
A fool multiplies words,
though no man knows what is to be,
and who can tell him what will be after him?
The toil of a fool wearies him,
for he does not know the way to the city.
(Ecclesiastes 10:12-15 )

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6 responses to “A Wall I Might Not Climb

  • lleweton

    Pooka, I’m sorry you’re experiencing this situation. I appreciate that there are circumstances which are unique to your profession and are outside my competence to comment. May you be granted a relaxed wisdom of decision and action wherever that is needed. Maybe you’re not in a position to discuss this with colleagues but I have experience in my own past of feeling myself to be worse at doing my job than I actually was. Dare I say hesitantly that I hope you encounter stillness in your storm and there find guidance?

    • Pooka

      Thanks, Llew. I’m probably too hard on myself at times. I certainly can’t look at this as if it’s a dead-end or hopeless. It’s just a dark shadow that keeps coming round. As a wonderful counselor I know and love put it, I can’t dodge the wall. It’s labor I’ll continue to press on with.

  • RubeRad

    I feel for you bud, as a fellow not-want-to-be-leader-type. I can say some words, and I hope that some of them might be helpful to your situation. But maybe not.

    Thing one; I have avoided official positions of leadership at work, and I feel like I can do something alternative which I call “leading from below”. I am glad that there are others above me who are tasked with actual leading and decision-making, and I in my lower role get to guide them to making the decisions I think would be good decisions, by arming them with facts (or reality, or even truth). The reason I like my role is that I get to just put some truth out there, and then just sit back and wait for it to do its own work. (It reminds me of Spurgeon re: the gospel, or maybe it was the bible: Who needs to defend it? Who needs to defend a lion? Just let it out of its cage!)

    And that leads to my second thing, perhaps more important. In relating to cow-orkers in potential areas of conflict, try at all costs to keep out of the realm of the interpersonal, and keep the discussion in relation to The Truth (reality, facts, etc). The Truth is Out There (X-files anyone?), objective, real; fighting against the truth will not ultimately succeed, so you can relax somewhat and advocate for the truth dispassionately, which will avoid defensiveness in others. A contentious discussion can move from the mode of you vs. me, into the more productive mode of you and me wrestling together with a reality that challenges us both (Again, a helpful analogy to religion, where it is much better to focus outside ourselves, on the objective and finished work of Christ, rather than introspection into our changeable, subjective, emotional state)

    Of course, all that goes out the window when politics or other non-technical concerns are involved, so maybe this is not at all helpful. In any case, here is one of my favorite hymns, which you might find edifying in this situation:

    Father, I know that all my life
    Is portioned out for me,
    And the changes that are sure to come
    I do not fear to see;
    But I ask Thee for a present mind
    Intent on pleasing Thee.

    I would not have the restless will
    That hurries to and fro,
    Seeking for some great thing to do
    Or secret thing to know;
    I would be treated as a child,
    And guided where I go.

    So I ask Thee for daily strength,
    To none that ask denied,
    And a mind to blend with outward life
    While keeping at Thy side;
    Content to fill a little space,
    If Thou be glorified.

    In a service which Thy will appoints
    There are no bonds for me;
    For my inmost heart is taught “the truth”
    That makes Thy children “free.”
    And a life of self renouncing love
    Is a life of liberty.

    As I recall, those are the verses that made it into the Trinity Hymnal, there are more here if you’re interested.

    Fill a little space, brother. And let God be glorified.

    • Pooka

      You’re a good man, Rube. I like your thinking and methods. I’m trapped in the position here, so I’ve gotta make do with what I have. It’s so durned relativistic nowadays that I just can’t seem to get anywhere. Our Lord is there, like my dad says. And I’ll just wait on that.

      Lovely hymn. I’m gonna get my own copy of the TH. It’s awesome.

  • Dad

    I’m not much of an orator nor do I have all the right answers. But maybe a few ideas for you to contemplate. Struggling with leadership is not a new thing. Remember Moses who didn’t want to take the lead when God instructed him to do so and God had to give him a spokesman. How about Jonah when he refused to go tell a whole bunch of people what to do to save themselves. I’m sure you can find a few more too. I guess you should be happy that you aren’t the President with a lot of people that don’t trust your judgment (not to say that it is the best anyway). So welcome to the world of management.
    I appears to me that you are on a good path. Knowing the people who you lead and follow is a huge plus for the manager. If you know what makes people tick then you have a clue about how to speak to them, give them direction, which jobs you can trust them with, what development they need to reach their goals, and how to confront them when they don’t perform as you expect. Of these things I think that knowing their goals is most important. Think about that for a while. The way you treat someone can imply that you understand what they desire. Alternatively, if their goals don’t fit into the group or mission you know that you will have to find ways to motivate him. Either way you have inside information that will help you to analyze how to lead.
    If you understand the boss you understand his approach making it easier to cope with his demands or even meet his goals before he asks you. The second best thing is understanding that the best leader is a servant. You serve the boss by performing the way he desires and covering his back. You serve your subordinates by giving them meaningful tasks and supporting them as they try to meet all the requirement. Oh by the way, you have your subordinate’s back too and they need to see that in you.
    Management or leadership is a different world. All those people that used to be your friends are now not. Why? Because you are now singled out and they can’t be a friend to you and be a friend to their co-worker too. It is a lonely world for the manager at times. You can’t just go down and talk with the guys. For however many hours per day you are simply alone. The amount of time you can spend with the new peers is quite limited and often insufficient to even get to know them well. They have their own dilemma which is really the same as yours…no time to interact. Wish you could spend a couple of days running around the country hearing from the boss once a week and trying to keep those managers from doing something stupid let alone getting them to get something accomplished.
    Not everyone is cut out to be a manager and it is not something that you can just pick up in a minute. There are those who will tell you the “he was born to lead”. Would you say that about Churchill, or Truman? Both these guys were really good at failing before they got into leadership. People hated them and loved them. I think that they simply had to take the reigns because they knew that they were needed. Their failures proved that they were not necessarily born to lead…they were placed in that position and used their knowledge and understanding to successfully lead.
    So one final thought. You may not feel like you are doing very well. You may not even appear to be doing well. But you are placed in the position to lead ……by whom? You know the answer. He is always on your side and He’s got your back through every single thing that happens. Keep in touch with Him constantly. James 1:5.

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