Why do I do what I do?

For most people self-analysis is a painful process, so most people avoid it to some extent.  I too find it a painful process, but I’m drawn to try and figure out some of my behaviors.  What is it that motivates me?  What am I trying to prove with all the awards, acolades and recognition?  Whose approval am I seeking?  Why is good never good enough?  Looking back on  my ranting and raving during the quarterly report, I’m trying to figure out what made me so angry. 

It makes me angry that my colleagues don’t care enough to do their job well enough to allow me to do mine.  That their poor performance reflects on me.  I feel like some of them are just pulling down a paycheck and whether or not we truly help the people of the Sudan is collaterol.   My perception of their lack of caring pisses the hell out of me.  But why?  Why do I care so much?  Why can’t I except mediocrity?  What drives me?  Do I really care about doing a good job for the people of Sudan or do I care about looking good? 

One of the technical specialists was supposed to review the parts of the report that were his speciality, he told he would get right on it that was Thrusday afternoon, I walked into his office to find him playing solitaire.  “Working hard I see?”  I caught him playing solitaire again on Friday, he never read any of the report and never provided edits. 

In one of our AoRs, one of the expat program managers, hasn’t done a single thing, hasn’t initiated a single new project, maybe hasn’t even been to a project site, it is evident in the numbers coming out of that area that they either don’t care or are grossly incompenent.  This program manager signs his e-mail “God Bless”  it offends me.  Because his actions to me don’t seem very Godly. 

But why do I feel the need to correct their behavior?  Why do I feel they should recieve warning letters or be fired?  Why do I care?  Is it because I feel like they are bringing me down to their level?  Is it because their behavior affects me and I have no control over them being late with their reports or writing at third grade level.  I can control how I react to it; so why don’t I just shrug it off and let the chips fall where they may, what compells me to work ten times harder to make up for them.  Is it my sense of team?  Or am I worried that the report that is submitted under my name will not pass muster with the donor. 

What is it that makes me yell in empty room all things I want to say to them?  I know that if I do say those things to them that it won’t be productive.  How do reach someone who just doesn’t give a damn about doing a good job or how them not doing their job affects you and your ability to do a good job.  How can you approach someone whose ego is so large they don’t know how to listen; what is the trick to changing their behavior besides serious consequences is there one or are they compelled to be the way they are forever. 

I believe people can change, I have sometimes though I wish I didn’t have to be so vocal about things that are wrong, I’ll work on that.  I’m trying not to let people get to me so much; but I find other people’s laziness that causes me to work 16 hour days a bit infuriating.   I think one of the problems is that most people think that everyone else is the problem.  I know I’m outspoken, that I’m very blunt in my feedback, I evoke very strong emotions in everyone I meet, no one is indifferent to me, I have an amazingly biting sarcastic wit, I’m good at anything I put my mind too, I’m too hard on the people I love, I have high expections of everyone, but especially myself, I can be mean and when I am it is usually intentional, I’m very critical of other people, but most critical of myself, I love to laugh, I’m very sensitive and I get hurt easily, right now this program is hurting my heart. 

I have failed more times than I can count, but I’m also very succesful.  I’m fortunate in my friends, I hate cowardice and liars, nothing enrages me more than dishonesty and when I myself am dishonest I feel a profound sense of shame. 

My boss found several embarassing errors in the report, I started offering up excuses , but ultimately it was my responsbility and regardless of what I recieved, compiling and end product was my responsbility and I failed and it was embarassing.  I said I’m sorry I did the best I could under the circumstances and I’ll try and do better in the future. 

And you thought I was going to tell you why I’m a humanitarian aid worker. Faulkner said “Don’t just try to be better than your adversaries or contemporaries, try to be better than yourself.”  I’m already better, than those people so now I have to be better than me, what does that mean?  I’m going to try and find a way to communicate with my colleagues about just how their behavior affects me in away that doesn’t alienate them, but rather makes them think.  I’m going to try and take deeper breaths when I get poor work and realize that, their poor work is a relfection on them not me.  I’m not going to care less, I’m going to continue to care passionately about doing the best I can and making the people around me better.  

I will do the best job I can under the circumstances and with what I have to work and I will continue to work on my areas of improvement, biting my tongue so I’m going quit telling people that they are hanging themselves I’m just going to sit back and watch them do it.  The number one cause of death for aid workers is car crashes and yet one of our technical specialist never wears his seatbelt, I’ve quit telling him to put it on, if he goes through the windshield I’ll write a nice note to his family.  Not letting things get to me so much, so instead of working deep into the night I’m going to start sending things back in track changes mode and with questions and have people resubmit, but nicely. “Thank you so much for your report, please see my edits, please accept changes and answer all questions and resubmit by (date here). 

Do you think I can do it?  I can.  My friend Mac said to me once, “You’re the only person I know whose done everything you said you were going to.”  She remember sitting in the dorms with me at a training camp and I told her I was going to write a book, when I called her the other day to ask some questions about wheelchair basketball to finish the edits on my book, she was amazed.  I always thought people did what they say they are going to do.

I once asked my Mom’s best friend Layle when I would be old enough to quit doing dumb things, she said, “Never, I’m 65 and I still do dumb things.”   I guess that’s the great thing about being human, we are fatally flawed, but we struggle on and strive to be the best we can.

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One Response to Why do I do what I do?

  1. Kari Dean says:

    Hey girl- sorry things are so frustrating for you. Sounds like you are working through it with heart and integrity, as always- Hang in there!
    xo
    K

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