Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Do I Have To Do Everything?

I could probably do a weekly post on the wisdom I glean from other people and usually, it's something they mention off-handedly. This week it was the Medical Director of the hospital at which I work. My position requires 60 hours a week of responsibility plus 5 additional days of over-night call per month. I work every third weekend and every six weeks that weekend is a 24 hour call rotation which puts me on the clock from 8:00 Saturday morning until 8:00 Monday morning.

I was talking about coming in on midnight shift to do rounds and working on the floor to try to fill some gaps and he stopped me mid-sentence.

"Stop it. Somebody else has those responsibilities, not you. If you start adding to your own plate, you will stop doing the things you were supposed to do in the first place. Trying to be everywhere all the time cannot work."

Sounds pretty much common-sense and it isn't that I didn't know this, but I think I needed someone else to say it out loud. The doctor's simple response immediately clarified three things...

1. I cannot do everything that I become aware needs doing.

2. If I keep stretching beyond what I am rightfully responsible for, other people will naturally step back. Ultimately, I will perpetuate the problem I thought I was fixing.

3. When my true responsibilities are not my priority they will suffer. I will be held accountable for what I failed to achieve despite the explanation that I was somewhere else doing someone elses job. I will be that person who isn't doing her job correctly. And that is unethical.

I think many women have that same tendency to just step in when other people aren't doing jobs whether it's in the workplace or at home. We just want it done and when those around us seem to be able to look the other way, we can't. We embrace the short-term fix of just taking over. And let's be honest, we feel like heroes or martyrs in the process. We feel superior. We might resent it but we feel superior.

The problem is that this teaches other people that there is no consequence for their own lack of character and lack of responsibility. What the people around us are seeing is not that we are superwomen for whom they are eternally grateful but that if they don't do the job, someone else will. Nothing bad will happen. By the way, when we draw the attention of said people to the fact that we once again have saved the day, they aren't impressed.

Here, finally, is where conviction comes to my heart: I am not allowing God to work in the lives of other people. I interfere. Have you ever seen a very bad little kid being disciplined by a parent when some other well-meaning adult swoops in to save them? You know what I mean, the one who says it's no problem that the kid just dumped cherry Kool-Aid all over the carpet running through the living room. It's the one who says that the child is too young to understand that interrupting an adult conversation is rude. The final message of adult number two is, don't expect anything from that poor little kid because they can't handle it. The kid learns not to take responsibility for themselves and guess what the parent who was just undermined feels? Angry. How dare you step in when I'm trying to teach my child to be a better person.

We saviors of the day doing our jobs and everyone elses are that obnoxious person.

My wisdom for the week; do what I am supposed to do well. Do my daily work at home or on the job with excellence regardless of anyone else knowing it but me. And let those around me learn excellence as well. Let them take the consequence for their errors so that someday they can experience the satisfaction of a job well done.

In short, get out of the way.

P.S. In case you still aren't getting it...No one is impressed with you/me.


Constance said...

You know, it may be common sense but we are all in the same boat. Other people tend to have a clearer perspective than us. I remember God teaching me this lesson in regards to just being the short term fixer. I am robbing someone else of the blessing of service b/c they don't see an opening for them. If we're afraid that if "we don't do it, it won't get done", that may just be what God intends! This was a great post! Thanks for the reminder that sometimes my good intentions are just getting in the way! I tend to be more the martyr type than the savior type!

Becky said...

you were talking straight to me!

Trish said...

I try to do everything as if I am doing it unto the Lord. He deserves my best. I have also realized that I can't be all things to all people...took me awhile. Yes, I am over my picky self!
Good lesson today Sari.

Margie said...

becky - she wasn't talking to you... she was talking to me!

Deb said...

What are you doing in my brain?!