Monday, April 23, 2007

Growing Pains

Last week was a high job satisfaction week. More precisely, it was a good reminder of the mission of the organization and of the fact that we achieve it, year after year, for hundreds and hundreds of kids. Their lives will be changed as a result of our presence in their lives, and there’s no real way to argue that fact.

On Friday I sat in a staff meeting listening to one of the coaches emphatically describe the great lengths she went to in order to get one of her students up out of bed to take the ACT. He had been having some ongoing family troubles, and was determined to stay in bed no matter what anyone did or said. He laid there through multiple phone calls from the coach, yells from his mother (who was ready to give up almost immediately), and a call from a full-time staff member. Finally, exasperated, he said, “Why are you still calling me? I said I’m not going to go. Why are you still on the phone right now?” The coach replied, “I’m on the phone right now because when you care about someone and they’re about to make a big mistake, you don’t let them do it!” He got up and went to the test. At this point in her story, the whole room full of staff members was either in tears or staring fixedly at a point on the floor in order to try and avoid doing so. I was one of the former.

In this altered emotional state, I was reminded of my responsibility to make sure that we’re able to continue doing the work we do. So I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I stopped complaining about the lack of work and started asking what people needed help with. I started brainstorming ideas for individual fundraising campaigns. And I wondered, again, how long it will be before I’m able to quickly if not immediately recognize situations such as these and my own ability to improve them, rather than moping and whining and wasting precious time, like a 27-year-old 5-year-old.

Sometimes growing up is all about remembering something you already know.

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