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Monday, August 22, 2011

Random Acts of Power

There are many, many things I wish were run differently in the bureaucratic system where I work. This is the nature of bureaucracies. It doesn't seem to matter which one you are apart of, the same sorts of problems persist.

           This inability to dictate how my day goes has been a source of frustration to me since...forever. "I don't like that policy," I say, and the answer, however nicely phrased, is "too bad, its a part of your job." And when people do try to make policy changes, things seem to have a way of drifting back to their original forms because people do their job the way they always have.

           So powerlessness is a feeling I grapple with each work day, and it can consume me up in frustration, irritation, anger, and hopelessness. None of which makes a productive employee. It makes a disgruntled employee.

           But this summer, when I was on a well-needed rest from work, I did a lot of praying and a lot of thinking. One of the revelations that resulted was this:

1. I have very little power over the bad things that happen where I work. It doesn't seem to matter what I do, they don't get fixed or changed by anything short of an act of God.
2. I have A LOT of power over the good things that happen where I work. It's much easier to make good happen than stop bad from happening! So a well-placed prayer/hug with a coworker, a treat for my office mates, a drop by and say hello to a lonely fellow employee- these things make the day much more palatable for myself and others, even if we can't seem to control the system which dictates our work day.

            I am sure there are bureaucratic gurus out there who know how to "fix" these things and make amazing, streamlined choices which benefit everyone by removing systemic problems. I am not currently one of these people.  But right this minute, right now, I have the skills to improve my working environment through addition rather than subtraction.

           So that is my new goal. And you know what? I don't feel so powerless anymore.

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