I have a compulsive need to step into a power vacuum. Not that I want to control everything (although that’s not an insignificant impulse). I just can’t handle things not getting done because no one has the balls to step up. Or they’re being polite and don’t want to presume that they have something to offer.
You’ll often hear me say, “Well I don’t think I’m the most qualified but I’m happy to get the ball rolling. I would prefer it if someone with x qualification was in charge though.”
Sometimes that has the intended effect of getting someone with that qualification to take the leap. More often than not, I end up in charge of a project I have no business being in charge of. That how I got to teach a parenting class when I have no kids and my counseling degree was with adults. I taught a writing GED class even though all my grammar classes were in Spanish growing up. I determined that my small employer needed a marketing person so I googled it…for 9 years.
I was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of initiative and leadership. Now I compulsively dive in just to be sure things get done.
What is going on that people are so afraid of leading? Why is it so hard to make a decision? And I’m not talking about in the military or a hospital where someone might die. I’m not talking about professional sports where you can lose your job. I’m talking about a freaking initiative to fix a workflow issue or inform a customer about a product change. Our fear of failure indoctrination is out of control.
Above a 3
There is a rule in my household that if a person or situation gets you emotionally fired up above a 3 on a scale of one to ten, your own baggage is involved. Pissed at my boss or insecure about my performance? Think my partner is selfish or upset (even irrationally) that I’m not getting all the attention? My parent is being too demanding or I’m not meeting my definition of being a good daughter?
I am above a 3 on this issue. I’ve played this game enough times thanks to my loved ones and my own growing capacity for self-awareness to know that it’s always about me (another rule).
I’m tired. I’m tired of being in charge. I’m tired of carrying the weight of others. I’m tired of people seeking me out and getting my seal of approval to cover their ass. I’m tired of being picked first to fix other people’s problems.
Am I surprised that people are this way? No, most humans are this way most of the time, myself included.
This gets me above a 3 not because human beings are doing normal human things. I am above a three because I am the idiot saying yes.
Although saying yes has served me well in many ways and I’ve learn faster than my peers due to my trials by fire and many failures, I’m f*cking tired.
I also wonder how many times I stole someone else’s thunder by not keeping my mouth shut a little longer.
Passing the Baton
I’m not saying that I won’t step into the power vacuum ever again. What I want to try is waiting. I want to try more silence. I want to try to do more observing and encouraging of others to grow.
It makes me crazy when a coworker of mine takes four months to schedule an appointment. No joke. And it’s not even scheduled yet. The last pre-meeting to talk about scheduling the meeting was set up by his supervisor. NO JOKE. My lesson here is to not be like the supervisor and do it myself because I need it to get done. That’s their business. I don’t need to step in and save him. He oversees the project. If it never happens, I have more time to work on my other tasks.
I can advocate for my needs. I can offer advice and suggestions and my skills. I can be a team player. I just want to try like hell not to direct the process. I am not here to be the project manager.
When I feel the itch to take over, I want to tell myself that my role here is to help encourage and empower someone else to leap.