December 21, 2012
The Path to Daily Learning
By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
Continuing my blog about a "day in the life" and my own struggles to live well and do the next right thing.
I meet with different staff people all the time and I find myself wrestling with my upbringing and what is the reality of today. I was brought up in a working class family. My father, Z"l, and my mother worked long and hard each day. They taught all of us, my brothers, sister and me, to give a day and a half's work for a days pay. This is my way of working and living. I don't know how to work any other way, nor does my brother, sister, nieces, nephews and daughter. I find that this is not the way of the world a lot of the time. I see it in stores I go into, people I talk to on the phone regarding services, in speaking with other employers/bosses and, at times, at my own place of work. I know everyone at Beit T’Shuvah is doing the best they can in each moment and I believe, rightly or wrongly, that many people are still doing the minimum to fulfill their job requirements. While this is really all I can expect and all I can pay for, I am finding myself frustrated that people don't want to give more.
I was talking to one of the staff at Beit T’Shuvah and asking, maybe loudly and in frustration, why they didn't tell me "bad news" earlier. I asked them when they realized that there was a problem and why they just left the information on my desk rather than ringing the alarm bell to me. They just shrank and said that they didn't think to tell me earlier. I was aghast, mad and definitely not calm. I told them that I always want to know what is happening ASAP so we can correct our errors quicker and change what we are doing so we don't compound our miscues. They walked away feeling like I was mean, unreasonable, etc. Once I calmed down, I walked into their office and asked them what the problem was. This person told me that they were overworked and underpaid and felt put upon to do the "extra" work it would take to be "on top of everything.” Then they told me that they think I am not human because I can keep so many things in my head and work as many hours as I do. I thanked them for their honesty and said we would talk about it next week.
I walked into my office, actually my other office-the garage- to have a cigarette. I had to blow off steam and I did not want to yell and scream and stomp around in front of everyone. I am trying to act less maniacal:). I paced up and down the garage and talked to myself. I then called one of my guides to check my reaction. I went off for about 10 minutes on the phone and the person on the other end, Abe, just laughed and said welcome to management and my world (he is CEO of a major company). We talked about my expectations and the reality of the world. We talked about if I am clear enough in my communications and in writing. I understood all of what he was saying and agreed where I had missed the mark.
Then we talked about the reality of my world. Abe said that not all people were raised with the same work ethic as I was. What I think of as simple and clear, others struggle to understand. What I see as just doing the next right thing, others are lost and bewildered by. What I think people should do, others think is too much to ask. Who is right? That's not for me to decide. I just have to be clearer in my communication, expectations and inspecting to see if these things are happening. I thanked Abe for his wisdom, lit another cigarette and thought about what he had said. I am not patient, I know this. I am not included in many groups of Spiritual Directors because I don't meditate. I am not "in many clubs" because of my ways of doing things, because I am too blunt and not willing to "play the game" most of the time. I felt defeated during this period. All of my insecurities came up, all of the times when I felt/feel different from everyone else came up and I paced more and more. I had a conversation with myself about how I was going to be, responsive or reactive. This experience took about 2 hours of my day because I could not settle myself into a course of action that I could live with. I wanted to fire the person and realized they were being who they are and this is whom I hired. I took Abe's wisdom to heart and decided to be clearer and know that I have to hire better as well. I spoke to this employee and we agreed to work together to meet the needs of Beit T’Shuvah rather than the needs of each other or ourselves. I don't know if this will work, I do know that this is a better response than the immediate reaction I had.