This morning while getting ready for work, I considered my behavior yesterday evening at the dinner table. My husband and I have both been struggling with our places of work. He, because leadership demonstrates itself as lacking and I because I have been trying to understand what happened to result in the treatment I've encountered in the past ten or twelve months. My language and speech turned vile and judgmental--something I work on daily to what seems like no avail. I was embarrassed to hear myself talking in that way and apologized to Nik. He was forgiving, and supportive, recognizing that I've been keeping a lot of pain and anger inside that is finding its way out in any way that it can.
Yesterday I read a chapter from a book by Robert E. Quinn, Building the Bridge as You Walk on It. The chapter was on "Appreciative Inquiry" a framework for change that one of my dear friends and colleagues is researching with me as our workplace transforms.
Appreciative inquiry builds on strengths and positive attributes, eschewing trying to identify and change problems. The example in the chapter illustrated the benefits of leaving what's done, surrendering the past and focusing energy on the goal or future success. In the scenario presented in the book the consultant was brought in to bring a team that was 18 months behind on a multi-million dollar, five year project to alignment with the timeline before the 48 month mark. At that time a 30 million dollar penalty would be levied if the project was 18 months or more behind its timeline. Of course the consultant succeeded, but it was how the consultant succeeded that so impressed me. Through bringing members of the team together in small groups and maintaining focus and energy on moving forward and meeting the goal, the "problems" of being behind schedule faded away. The consultant came in under budget as did the overall project due to the change in perspective the team encountered. The leadership on the project constantly questioned the consultant's approach. The consultant listened to the concerns, acknowledged them but did not once try to explain how the problems would be addressed. Rather the consultant continued to focus on that drive to succeed.
As I read my devotional this morning, I read the Gospel according to Matthew, 18:21-19:1. The theme for this scripture is forgiveness. In which a king forgives the slave who cannot pay his debts when he begs forebearance and promises to repay the debts owed so that he and his family are not sold to another house to repay the debts. So when the king accepts the deal, the slave goes out to collect from another who owes him. The debtor begs forgiveness and mercy on the debt but the slave offers none. He is called for reckoning by his lord and is subjected to the punishment he escaped earlier.
So as I was readying myself for work this morning, I considered these things. When I met with my counselor, I acknowledged that I have been wasting a lot of time, wasting time I could be focusing on my future--endeavors at home, in the workplace and in my business planning on trying to figure out what happened, what went wrong and who should be held accountable or forgiven. It's just not practical.
So as I think about what I can appreciate, I can appreciate a small door to the future being cracked open, and the ability to start closing that door on the place I have been in the past year. I talk about my 'boxes' in which I put things to keep them under control. I believe that the ideal for myself is the need for fewer and smaller boxes--that I can be strong and face the things I need to process and leave behind more quickly and directly. And in doing this, I must continue to find ways to forgive myself and then I can move on to forgive others.
I talked with that colleague of mine earlier this week, the dear one who is researching and practicing with me on appreciative inquiry. She asked me if I would ever see myself managing again in the future. My gut feeling and immediate response to her was no. She clarified and asked if it was no for where I am now (this place of work) or for any place of work. I really believe that I have been uprooted to the extent that it would be no institution that was not my own. She told me she thought that was a shame because I am such a strong leader. I poo-poohed that immediately. I have vision. I know that. I am not sure about the ability to translate the vision into direction for others.
Should the time come that I can really leave this year behind, perhaps. It's a matter of forgiveness and moving forward, right?
Matthew 18:21-19:1, New American Standard Bible (NASB)
21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven [a]may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him [b]ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 But since he [c]did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the [d]debt. 28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred [e]denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling [f]and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from [g]your heart.”
1 When Jesus had finished these words, He departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan;