08 March, 2013

Don't Dig a Well When You're Dying of Thirst

She giggles
he becomes more animated
I sneeze, and sneeze, and sneeze
While my allergies are getting the best of me, they are aware of only one another and the conversation at hand
My eyes water, nose twitches, and I feel another sneeze preparing itself to come forward
How this moment reflects the entire day - from a beginning with sneezing and light conversation to a point with more sneezing and needing nothing more to remove myself from an office to which I give a lot of energy and creativity and sometimes find myself wondering "why" because I am not sure it is desired or appreciated.
A few weeks ago, I had a saying on my white board that read something like "Don't dig a well when you are dying of thirst." One of the guys with whom I work asked if it was the office motto.
I laughed then and now wonder at his wisdom. How often I find myself feeling as if I am banging my head against the wall because I am being asked to dig a well while I am dying of thirst. Today, i found myself realizing that I had tried to dig that well first. I was working to finish the foundations and create a supportive ledge from which people could lower their buckets to drink from the well... and...
then I had a meeting and found myself realizing that no one cares about the well until the final hours of a life.
No one wants to set up the foundation to maintain a healthy supply of water.
People are pretty happy dying of thirst.
I recognize that what I do can be done by someone else. It wouldn't be done the same way, but the job would be done. I also know that I do it differently than would other people; I go above and beyond the job requirement to fill the gaps, ease the load, and enhance whatever it is I touch. I do these things for the office; I do them for myself because I enjoy what I do.
Yet, there are hours or days when I come face to face with the reality of where I work.
Somewhere, someone likely appreciates what I do and what I have provided; my willingness to dig that well.
It wasn't today when I sat in a meeting seeing that whatever I said would not matter.
It wasn't earlier this morning when I realized that the person with whom I work this project was not fully engaged in listening to the update.
It wasn't when I sat at my desk those last few minutes of the day recognizing that, regardless of all I have done, I am not allowed to be noted for that work because it is beyond my job description. Hierarchy rules the day in some places.
I am frustrated
I am sad
I want to stop the value added that I give and tell people to do their own jobs, I am done.
But of course, this is not the case. I can not pretend the work isn't there just as I can not refrain myself from filling gaps and adding that extra "touch" to my work and my environment. I have created my space and cultivated it with attention and care. I will dig the well, though no one is dying of thirst, because that is the person that I have chosen to be - and the person I continue to choose to be. I will even plant flowers and trees around my well so that people can relax when they come to drink; so that they can take a deep breath and appreciate the beauty that surrounds them.
I work with many people who would die of thirst while digging a well.
I also work with a few people who will help me dig that well so that none of us die of thirst. They share my frustrations. They too know what it is to come face to face with the reality of a lack of strategy.
Together we laugh, we dirty our hands, we dig, and we keep working to build; to develop; to grow.


Lesley said...

I admire your ability to know when to stay or when to go, when to be true to yourself and look at the big picture.

jersaout said...

I lost my mind and feel frustrated often in recent years. Good to see your post, it helps me a lot.