Every morning my route to work takes me to an intersection with a blinking yellow light for traffic going north and south. Many times the cars that approach this intersection will stop for seemingly no reason. For years I would often get angry and yell out “Just turn already!” This intersection happens to be in the middle of a huge medical complex, where people from all over the state come for treatment or to visit a loved one. Recently it dawned on me that maybe many of these confused drivers are simply trying to navigate an unfamiliar area on their way to the hospital. This insight has definitely helped me understand that these drivers are not necessarily incompetent, but maybe lost in the thoughts of a sick family member or friend.
How many times do we assume that the people we work with are either selfish, unmotivated, or just not able to do the job? Is it because that lack the skills or desire to perform at a high level or are they dealing with outside factors? Do you trust that every patron that walks into the library is there with noble intentions or do you judge them based on appearance? All of us fall into the trap of not being a good leader because we react based on a person’s external factors. If you simply manage each situation with compassion and understanding, it will not only help a person better understand but also lower your own frustration level.
I challenge all of you to slow down when you come to theses challenging “intersections” at work to consider where the “drivers” involved are coming from. It just might prevent you from making a wrong turn.