Friday, January 30, 2015

The Right Tools for the Job

In the course of my life I have interacted with two different good people who have very similar gifts and challenges.  They are both friendly and engaging and intelligent.  They are both blunt speakers and they both have a reduced ability to comprehend or care how their blunt words are received.  They speak confidently and authoritatively what they believe is true, illustrate and back up their points articulately and, when it comes to conversations, are only at peace when they've been the last one to speak.

What an interesting set of gifts and challenges..

So, today I was thinking about gifts and challenges and the work we engage in.

One of these two friends of mine has chosen a profession where those gifts and challenges have served her and others well.  She is a lawyer and is a fabulous, successful and daunting courtroom presence and ally for abused and fearful individuals in divorce cases.  My other friend has chosen a profession where his gifts and challenges make his work difficult, and he is mystified and frustrated when he finds that he has alienated coworkers.  He cannot understand why what seems so right to him seems so wrong to them.

If he were a well-trained and experienced search and rescue coordinator, he'd be exactly the sort of person I'd want heading my local search and rescue teams   If he'd chosen a military profession he'd have just the right set of gifts to get a bunch of young marines to not only shape up but fly right and live straight. Political experience? He could testify to Congress in no uncertain terms about the ramifications of a bill they were considering, and like my other friend, with good legal training he'd be an effective legal advocate for the abused or intimidated.

But years ago he chose a different profession.  And though he finds the work interesting and engaging and he's financially successful at it, he continues to experience the frustrations I mentioned at a higher than average frequency.

While mulling these observations I remembered something my father said in a group conversation about a book.  In it is a man on a road trip on a motorcycle.  In that narrative the motorcycle breaks down on a stretch of highway and the author describes the range of emotions a man can experience when that happens.

"How do you think or respond," asked one of the group, "when something like that happens to you; when something you need to work, breaks?  Do you get angry, do you get discouraged, do you blame yourself or someone else, do you get frustrated?  What do you do?"

Various people gave various answers.  My father's honest answer when he was asked was, "I generally think that the problem is that I don't yet have the right tools."

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