Thursday, February 18, 2010

Those Things We Cannot Change

Last evening I attended a District sales meeting at my current employer; an organization I have made perfectly clear I am not a fan of. There are several reasons for this, which I won't and probably shouldn't disclose completely. Suffice it to say that the culture is the most dehumanizing and emotionally abusive one that I have ever worked in, and we'll leave it at that; at least for now. No, obviously I don't care if management sees this because I've been directly vocal about my perspective in the past. And yes, I still have my job; at least for now.

These District sales meetings are a mandatory, monthly occurrence that as Sales Reps, we're accustomed to dragging ourselves to out of obligation. We often have to work extra accounts the day before and the day after to make up for the two and a half to three hours of verbatim PowerPoint reading and cheesy motivational/brainwashing videos. Last evening was a special occurrence though; a special treat. Another eye opening reflection on how there are some things that we cannot change.

We can voice our own opinions and our perspectives, but that doesn't mean that we'll change someone else's. Even if they need to be changed in order to solve a problem or get to the root cause, rather than pointing the finger at a convenient scapegoat. We can put our best effort into the work that we do and make a solid attempt to achieve our performance objectives, but if those objectives are unrealistic and the tools and support given to us are inadequate, we may not look favorably on paper. We can control how we react to someone else, to a situation, to a broken system that's in place, but we can't always change the elements of those things that are contributing to the distress. Like an organizational culture who would rather not listen to their front-line employees' suggestions and insight into what's driving an issue, but rather blame them as the root cause behind it. Sometimes blaming a group you have control over is easier than spending the time, money and resources to undo all the complications you have put in place that make it impossible for cross functional areas to be interdependent and accomplish a congruent objective. Sometimes blaming someone else is easier than admitting to your mistakes and your blind-sighted micro-perspective.

We can also be born into an environment of dysfunction, become the target of someone else's violent actions, experience sudden, inexplicable loss, and be at the receiving end of countless other indiscretions, inequities, discrimination, prejudice and the unraveling aspects of life. Those are the things we cannot change because they are external to us. Those are the things that can cause us pain, suffering and entrapment in a cycle of self-devaluation and self-destruction if we let them. They are the things we cannot escape, because within each one is a self-enhancing lesson that we'll need someday.

When I think about those things that I once thought I would have liked to have changed, I realize that each one has given me a piece of myself. A piece of myself that I've often used to help someone else, offer a bit of insight, gave me the drive and tenacity to accomplish a personal goal or two, helped me relate to someone I needed to work with, led me to rediscovery and meaning, pointed me towards the right direction, instilled appreciation for what I overlooked before, revealed talent and purpose, and so on. In short, they were a preparation of sorts; a preparation for giving back something positive to the universe.

Those things that I can't change on the outside I can dissect and transform on the inside, if I allow myself to. I can choose to wallow in the negative self-pity cycle of "why me"? or I can realize that "I" is not in question. I can choose to realize that I need to release myself from the responsibility of someone else's choices. The only responsibility I need to take is for my own decisions. Whether I undertake the task and time to nurture myself, discover the light within darkness, and begin to use that light to dispel that same darkness are the only things I can control. Eventually, I’ll reach the sunrise.

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