Sounding worn, tired, depressed and frustrated, my co-worker was complaining on a call today about the difficulties of getting things done. "Just getting straightfoward answers is harder than it should be. I can't tell you how angry I am that I have to spend so much time on this when it should be simple. They're making it much harder than it needs to be."
I laughed. "Well, there are five stages of dealing with the job. You're in the second stage, anger. The first stage was optimism. When you first begin, you're full of optimism and energy. You know you can change things, by God. Then, as you reality catches up, you begin to realize that you were a little naive. After a while of dealing over and over again with the same issue, you move to stage two - depression."
As others laughed, the complainer asked, "What are the other stages?"
"The third stage is weariness because you're just so spent from beating your figurative head against the wall. You realize that you can identify the problem and suggest solutions but, like politics, all you can do is voice your opinion, cast your vote and then cope with the outcome. Fourth stage is depression. By then you want to quit. You're still trying but your enthusiasm is diminished, sort of like losing a baseball game 27 to 3 in the fourth inning. You still have a chance. There's still some ball to play, some chances to score and come back...BUT...."
"What's the final stage?" someone asked over cross talk.
"Resignation, of course. You're resigned to your situation. You come in and say a little prayer each morning that you can make it through the day. You'll have successes and you know that, but they usually aren't achieved for a few years, and the new issues and challenges outnumber the successes 3:1, so any joy over your success is mitigated by new issues emerging. You know that you'll go day to day, month to month, and year to year dealing with these issues. You've seen your future and it's wearying."
"So why do you go on when you've reach the last stage?"
"Well, the truth is, they're still paying you. Besides that, the people who take these positions tend to be self-motivating and refuse to give up. And then, even when you reach the fifth stage, someone new comes along, full of talk and hope, and you square yourself and leap back into stage one.
"For a while, at least. Then the slow slide begins again."
"That's a pretty cynical take," someone crisply pronounced.
"What stage are you in?" someone else asked.
"Me?" I laughed. "Those records are sealed."
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com