Let me introduce you to someone who’s tense, worried and demanding.
OK, maybe you’re not that person today. But let’s admit it – at one point or another, we’ve all become some else’s crazymaker. That’s why a personal review is an essential part of the May series, Coping With Crazymakers. Take heart if you feel a little pinch. Noticing the pattern is step one to lasting change.
Pattie couldn’t wait to jump in after her sudden promotion to Finance Manager. Now she had a chance to run the show!
She had one goal: make everything and everyone more efficient. It was a good goal on paper. In practice, she felt like she was playing whack-a-mole.
Keeping every line item on their scorecard green was next to impossible. Their IT tools required a major update. Avoiding quarterly forecast errors meant new training programs. And they needed to hire more people to keep pace with their growing profits.
Pattie pushed and pushed…all the way to a fainting spell one day. When she returned to work a few days later, her manager asked her in for a heart-to-heart.
“I think you’re trying to do too much,” JB said. “I appreciate your high standards, but no one wants to see you sick.”
“That was a one-off,” Pattie said, brushing him off. “I just hadn’t had lunch that day.”
JB shuffled in his seat. “What I’m trying to say is that things have to change. The whole team is feeling the stress.”
Then JB recounted the stories. How the staff felt randomized as Pattie jumped from one crisis to the other. How no one wanted to pull another long night. How they dreaded her snippy, anxious tone toward quarter close.
She told her husband, “I stumbled out of JB’s office in a daze. I knew I was driving my staff, but isn’t that what a leader is supposed to do? Challenge people? Get stuff done? I thought all the improvements meant I was doing a great job, but my team gave me a failing grade.”
“My mind was racing on the drive home. At a stop light I glanced over and saw a car covered with funny bumper stickers. One read, “Chaos, panic and disorder. My work here is done!” That was the moment I got it. Of course priorities are important, but the last thing I want to do is become a carbon copy of all the bosses who drove me crazy.”
It took a fainting spell for Pattie to learn an important lesson: There is no end state.
Life, by its very nature, is iterative. Something always needs attention, mending, or even a complete overhaul. Demanding perfection from inherently imperfect people is inviting crazy.
When you feel frustrated this week, remind yourself, “This is just for now.” Come back to the present moment by showing grace, because grace and crazy simply can’t co-exist.
Keep expectations realistic. Have the best meeting you can have. Be the best parent or friend you can be. Take care of yourself with kindness and love.
Now that’s flawless.