Action vs. Thought

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

October 2, 2013

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Categories: One a Day, Post a Day 2013

In my consensus training, we were reminded the importance of stopping and not doing anything. This is in many regards the complete opposite of how we are trained. We are trained to do. We are trained to act. We are trained to keep in motion. We are not trained to stop, to not do anything, and to listen. This takes practice, lots and lots of practice, and it’s hard.

And, unfairly, I expect this trait of the leaders I am to look up to.

I want the blog words of my site to be centered around balance. How do we find the time for our families, for our work, for our volunteering, and for our dreams. Do we? Do I? Is it successful? Ever? When are those successes and how do we celebrate vs. all those times that we chide ourselves for not doing enough?

Action vs. thinking. It’s hard, and it’s hard to stop momentum of action and give the needed time to think. I was reminded the other day of how important, though, this sentiment is to me. I was reminded when I was asked to give up a small unimportant thing that was crucial to my job. I understood the reasoning for it, but the way the thing was, for so long, was good enough, and there was no problem. No complaints. It wasn’t a perfect system, but because it wasn’t wholly broken, the need to fix it, I thought was less important. Giving up the thing adds logistics to an already packed day.

What shocked me was the response. Why it was being acted on, in day four, meeting 1. Why this small thing suddenly, after over a year of not being addressed, it suddenly came to the forefront. Why was this small thing told to be acted upon? She asked me, “You don’t think it’s because I think you’re doing anything wrong do you?” I restated the logistic challenge. I don’t think she was doing anything except responding to what she was told to do.

What I was disappointed in, and I did not have the frame of mind to think of the coherent thoughts that would have put this in a diplomatic way, was to question, “Why, after a year of it being this way, are we acting on it now? Where is the transparency? What don’t you want us to see? Is this a power play by the other whom I already told you was difficult to work with? This feels more like a, ‘I’m putting you in your place,’ rather than doing best for the organization.”

Balancing action vs. thinking is hard. When you have the loud voice, the squeaky wheel declaring that a thing must be done, especially when you are new to a thing, it’s hard to stop. It’s hard to say, “Okay, I hear what you are saying, and I share your concern, but I want to find out why the thing is done the way it is before I go through with your suggestion.” It’s hard because in part it’s confrontational. No one likes confrontation. In fact, many people ask others to do the confronting so they don’t have to when they have to discuss what they decide to be a hard thing! Excuses will be made like, “It’s his/her job,” instead of putting our grown up pants on and saying, “This makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t understand why the thing is done this way, could you try to explain it to me?”

And, now I am worried. I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that a trait commonly held over the years was an indicator of stopping and listening. Now, I am worried that similar mistakes of the past are going to be repeated. There is so much potential, so much hope, we need to think about it and envision it before we fully move forward.

We work on, “Don’t just stand there do something.” We need to find ways to incorporate, “Don’t just do something stand there.”

And, now I suppose is my turn to share the lessons of the past. It is my turn to say, “I am worried and this makes me uncomfortable. Can we talk?” I, too, like so many others, dislike confrontation. It makes my stomach knot. It makes me feel worried and distracted. But, I fear for the not-listening, so much. Hoping this will clarify my thoughts.

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