Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Improvement and Despair

Walking a thin line between improvement and despair.

On the one hand, I grasp that part of my own problem in my life overall is the fact that I never really try to master anything that I take up. I'm a dabbler: do a little of this, get a bit interested - then essentially give it up when it becomes difficult or I get bored or I see a new shiny thing.

On the other hand, I constantly fight this sense that if I make a choice and sink deep into something I will sink it into the wrong thing - and at the end, as Stephen Covey would say, find that I have placed my ladder against the wrong wall.

And so here I find myself, confronting decisions made about staying where I am for the present time, until I am prompted to move on - in other words, definitively placing my ladder against a wall.

The despair that pops up almost instantly is not the despair of man who suddenly seems to think his options are gone - it's the despair of a man who suddenly sees a long tunnel of more of the same, even as he tries to prepare to build something out of nothing.

To master a situation that is seemingly masterless. To improve that which desperately needs improving, even as the knowledge haunts me that this is done for those that don't really care, that view myself and my colleagues as "replaceable" even as they call for high levels of performance.

But - and this is an important but - the reality is I'm not doing it for them, I'm doing it for myself.

This is the difference, the difference in placing your ladder and jousting at windmills. It's not what you do for others, it's what you are doing for yourself and becoming that is the critical matter. I do not do things and improve systems to please or helps others primarily, I do it because of what it does to and for me and what I will become as a result of it.

So there is a false dichotomy here. There is no improvement versus despair. There is only improvement to an end -the end of preventing me from despair from failing to make a choice and master my situation.

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