Facilitator Journal | Issue #0509, October 11, 2011
This week's article, while a bit long, tells a potent true to life story about how a friend,
who asks to remain nameless, helped facilitate significant
change from the inside of a very oppressive organization.
You'll want to share this article with friends, clients,
and associates who might be up against similar challenges.
Please read, "The Triumph of a Joy Junky,"
and tell us what you think.
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Triumph of a Joy Junky
joy can change everything
Self Mastery Skill
Our friend, who we'll call "Kay," started
work as the only Social Worker in a medical treatment
clinic about six months ago. This clinic employs about
40 people, and runs two shifts, 6 days a week. About
120 patients are served weekly, with each visiting 3
times per week.
A large contingent of the staff, including the director,
often use a language other than English. About 8 months
ago, the Director was promoted from within the organization
with no prior experience managing large groups.
Kay had recently moved from out of state and
was new to the medical community when she showed up on the scene as the lone social worker
culturally diverse organization. So she wisely decided
to come in with few expectations and do her best to
fit into this work culture using her considerable talent
as an objective observer.
of the first things she noticed was that interactions
between patients and staff sorely lacked respect. She
would often overhear heated conversations in a foreign
tongue. All Kay understood was the anger.
person Kay was replacing appeared very scattered, disorganized,
and had generally poor relationships with the rest of
the staff. Kay attempted to learn the bigger picture
from her by continually asking questions that would
help her understand where a Social Worker might fit into this
establishment. What was expected? How will I be perceived?
What are the attitudes of the medical staff about the
work I'll be doing? What processes are in place to handle
this and that?
Neither the outgoing Social Worker, nor anyone else
for that matter, seemed to have any answers for her.
The staff simply appeared to operate like a disjointed
group of individuals, scurrying about, putting out some
fires, and missing others in a haphazard fashion. Sometimes
they would repeat each others work. Sometimes important
tasks would be overlooked. Everyone seemed to operate
through a pall of fear and anger.
normally a very happy and enthusiastic person, soon
found herself going to work every morning with a knot
in her stomach. "I had no idea where I stood in
this culture, where I fit, or how to serve.
The Director was constantly yelling at everyone. I didn't
know if I was going to be yelled at for something I
was supposed to be doing or not doing." Tension
was thick in this place. The Director would start yelling
early in the day and everyone focused on simply dodging
bullets the rest of the day.
This is certainly not the kind of organization any of
you out there can relate to, is it? Don't we wish!
Finally, one day Kay woke up and decided she wasn't
going to live like this anymore. She decided to try
something new, knowing that she had the power to leave
and find a job elsewhere if it didn't work out. You see, Kay is a smart cookie.
She told herself, "I know deep down that I make my own
joy. And I decided to choose joy on this job!"
decided what she would and wouldn't tolerate. She would
be pleasant, kind, and considerate, in the midst of
the ongoing turmoil and not let anyone, no matter what
their position, treat her with disrespect, including
Kay sets boundaries. One day shortly after she
made this decision, the director began to yell at her.
She told her, "Please tell me what you expect of
me, but don't yell at me anymore or I'll quit."
Many fearful people might call this a threat. But hear
this my dear friends, these are simply called "consequences"
by those with the heart to exercise them.
Kay pays it forward. Even though people weren't
very friendly to one another, Kay decided to start complimenting
everyone on the staff who demonstrated even the slightest
competence or positive behavior. She began taking extra
care to appreciate the secretary who took more abuse
than anyone and who interacted with everyone. Kay began
to feed the staff's hunger for positive reinforcement.
makes the team. Even though Kay wasn't part of a
highly functional workteam, she began acting as if she
was. She would jump in and help with any little job
that crossed her path, even if it was outside of her
realm, just to take some of the load off of her coworkers.
These were simple little things like making a quick
phone call, making a copy, mailing a letter, passing
on a message, etc.
Kay chooses mastery. Kay decided that she was
going to put all she had into her work. She started
providing extraordinary service rather offering simply
Kay finds an ally. One day, a new office mate
showed up and she recruited her as an ally. Everyday,
they found a "mission of the day" to take
on. This was sometimes just a small thing, like someone's
nagging problem that no one could ever solve. They would
solve these kind of things all the time. Kay found that
having an ally multiplied not only their results, but
their joy too.
Kay doesn't fuel the fire. Whenever Kay was in
the midst of a conflict that didn't involve her and
that she didn't feel able to impact, she walked away.
"No point messing with my joy when I don't have
picnic. Make no mistake, dear reader. The environment
here was not all joy and light. Kay was faced daily
with death, and the dying, with imminent amputations,
sickness, and terminal illness. Joy was a choice. One
she had to keep choosing every moment.
About 6 weeks after Kay decided to choose
joy, people started coming to her with
their problems and concerns. Kay didn't try to fix any
of them. She listened hard and suggested things
they could do to resolve or reduce them. She helped
them find ways to make healthy choices like she was
doing. "The next time you feel yourself about to
blow up at someone, take a nice long deep breath, tell
yourself that you're choosing joy today, and ask yourself,
'How can I do this differently?"
never took sides. When people came to her blaming
others for their upsets. She just listened and made
suggestions on how they could think or
and more people began dropping into Kay's office on
a regular basis. "I don't want to sound conceited
here, but it seemed like people wanted what I had...joy.
I helped them choose it themselves. I kept telling them,
'Stop bickering. Remember to breath, then choose joy.'
We even made a poster that said, 'Remember to breath.'
People loved it."
Director was one of the worst attackers. Once I built
a little more trust with her, she was in my office sharing
her problems. One day I asked, 'Are your really getting
what you want by yelling at everyone?' She finally was
able to see that it simply brought down staff and modeled
poor behavior for them."
promised me one day to not yell for the entire day and
hasn't done so publicly for six weeks. She now takes
issues with individuals privately into her office and
handles them in a civil tone."
"Today things are about 60% better. I look forward
to going to work. People are more pleasant. They still
come in now and again, but the atmosphere is good enough
now to start the real work of making this organization
hum. People are now more solution-oriented rather than
blame-oriented. Now that people don't have to be so
concerned with defending themselves, there's more energy
available to focus on solutions and processes that will
make life better for everyone."
TIPS FOR CHANGE.
- New choices yield new results. Kay was amazed
at how little effort can yield such a huge change. Choosing
joy is simply a decision. I just decided that I'm here
to have the best day I can have and be as productive
as I can be, and have joy in my heart.
Sometimes the most positive thing you can do is to leave
an organization. I've helped a couple people make
the decision to leave this place. If it takes too much
from you over time, at some point, you have to realize
you can't affect this place without losing your joy.
- Find your passion and choose mastery in your work
100% of the time. Find a place for yourself that
holds passion for you, a place that has space for your
Be a steward of trust. You can have bad days, and
you can be frustrated, but don't lash out at others,
just own it and let people know what's going on with
you so they don't take it personally.
Joy is not simply a smile on your face everyday. It doesn't necessarily equate to happiness, though it
may lead there. It's being true to everyone, especially
Empower people to solve their problems and to make different,
more effective choices.
Consciously model functional behavior.
- Chose to lead yourself. Ask what you can do
in your little piece of the world. Develop options for
yourself so your survival isn't at stake if you have
to leave an organization.
- Know that anyone taking on a new behavior in a system
changes the system.
Add Your Comments
there a new choice you can make in your organization
today? If so, give it a try for a week and tell us what
happens. We'd love
to hear from you. Just click on Add Your Comments to share your questions, feedback, or experience on this topic.
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