Yes, this is Hell. I don’t know why it took so long to realize this. Hopefully, I’m naming it for you too. They say the first stage of recovery is to admit there is a problem. So here we go. I believe in sunshine and rainbows. I believe that level of bliss is where my world needs to be 24/7 365, that’s day and night. In order to achieve this so-called bliss, I felt I needed to make everyone happy so that my world can be happy. This is true of home and true of work. Work is the setting this story takes place.

I once read a book that said something to the effect of “struggle or slavery is the result of desire”. It also said, “blessed is the person that God sees fit to test”. I have never felt comfortable working for someone. It’s a matter of how I believe things need to get done. I don’t believe in shortcuts. My thoughts are that “if there is a shortcut, then that’s the way it’s supposed to get done”. So if you’re taking a shortcut and it’s not completely thought out then somewhere in the future this quick action “to turn something in” is going to create a bigger problem. If this “action” becomes the norm once it’s discovered it will have to be unwound to the beginning, creating more work in the future instead of doing the right thing now. That coupled with the idea that because of my line of thinking I always get the heavy load.

As much as I try to avoid it, and trust me I always try to avoid it, I become a leader. This is the result of me having to know how things work from beginning to end, I need to see the big picture. We can put the puzzle together easier when we can see the whole picture. I also believe in the team. I often say “Together we’re better” I even have that embroidered on a t-shirt. You learn early that you’re only as strong as your weakest link. We have heard that time and time again. I may introduce a blog post in an earlier post. Then I randomly talk to someone that creates a problem that my post doesn’t quite address, so I rethink the whole post or concept and re-introduce it with that problem solved, inclusively. Until now that is what my thinking was.

Back to the work setting.

The only problem with the “weakest link” concept is the approach to helping them. If you clicked to read this post here’s where you relate.

There are typically two types of ways to help either you can realize that you made it and help them to get where you are or you can teach them from their point of view to help them resolve their immediate problem.

Let me explain.

Imagine being in a cave with any number of people. You have made this cave comfortable. However, you desire to get out. You know how to get out of the cave or at least you’re confident you can get out. However, the people that you’re in the cave with can’t get out. You help them. You help them by lifting them to the top. Now that person is out. They made it! Then there is another person that needs help. You help them get out too.

I know what you’re asking yourself and I will address that shortly.

There’s always someone to help get out of the cave. Once out the people that you helped don’t know what to do next, so where do they end up… Back in the cave. You address that issue and help them get back out of the cave. This cycle creates a never-ending loop. I’m a firm believer in the win-win but guess who’s not winning? Ultimately it’s you. I like my world sunshine and rainbows so in order for me to be happy I have to make everyone else’s world sunshine and rainbows, remember that. As each one gets out you so feel so good you helped them get out. Let’s say something goes wrong like they hurt an ankle. Who gets the blame for the hurt ankle, you do, it must have had something to do with the way you helped them. Now your sunshine and rainbows are blocked by a single cloud or maybe multiple clouds.

You want to know why there are multiple clouds. Imagine you helped them out of the cave to please one of their loved ones but they didn’t get out on time or once they came out they weren’t exactly how their loved one expected. It must have had something to do with the way you helped them out of the cave. Now they both are blaming you. On top of that where do they go once they get out, so they blame you for not knowing and teaching them their next step.

The other approach, and the right one to choose, is to get yourself out of the cave and drop a rope. This way if they truly want to get out of the cave it will take some effort on their part. You can’t be blamed for anything that happens to them on their way out because it’s all a result of their action. On top of that when they get out they can follow your lead but under their own free will.

How does this relate to work (the setting)?

You help your co-workers get their work done and turned in on time. You stop everything you’re doing to teach them what they need to know to resolve their issue. However, you have your own work to do. You’re ok with getting in trouble because you’re missing deadlines because you believe that once the team is up to par then everyone will have their work done, turned in on time. You’re constantly helping them get out of the cave but because you helped them resolve that issue they didn’t understand what to do next. This, in a sense, forces them to jump back into the cave. You lose twice. Once for helping them get out and they didn’t know what to do next and again because you didn’t meet your deadlines.

The question that you were asking yourself earlier is “why don’t they help you get out after you helped them get out”? How are they supposed to do that when they couldn’t get themselves out? You may be too heavy they obviously don’t know how to get you out or you would have already been out.

The “Hell” part of this is that although you love helping people, there are other caves that you want to visit to help them get out. You already know that once you get yourself out of that cave even with dropping a rope they won’t, or really don’t, desire to get out. But you do! So you’re in “Hell” until either you get yourself out or that you no longer have the desire. This breeds complacency. Yes it saddens you that you know, even with a rope, they won’t, or really don’t, desire to get out. This is what is called “Survivors Guilt”. Attempting to avoid “Survivors Guilt” leaves you stuck at the bottom of the cave when you know you don’t desire to be there.

Get yourself out!